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A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  482 ratings  ·  85 reviews
In this intimate portrait of an extraordinary father-son relationship, Mark K. Shriver discovers the moral principles that guided his legendary father and applies them to his own lifeWhen Sargent "Sarge" Shriverfounder of the Peace Corps and architect of President Johnson's War on Povertydied in 2011 after a valiant fight with Alzheimer's, thousands of tributes poured in ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt & Company (first published May 22nd 2012)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
This book is an unexpected gem. Sargent Shriver was always a background figure in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and connected by marriage to the Kennedy family. I knew little else until I read this book. I learned about his accomplishments in civil rights work in Chicago in the 1950s, his pivotal role in founding and defending the Peace Corps and Legal Aid. I also was reminded of his failed bid for the Vice Presidency with McGovern in 1972 and also his brief run for the presidency in ...more
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book reads like a tribute to a father by his son. When I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway, I was excited because I didn't know much about Sargent Shriver. Although this book isn't full of fact after fact, I learned a great deal about a "good man". Shriver was a part of the famous Kennedy clan, the father of the Peace Corps, Legal Aid, and Head Start; but above all of that, he was a family man. Sargent Shriver wrote letters/notes to his children that he would put under their bedroom ...more
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've always been such an admirer of Sargent Shriver. I first became aware of him when he became the first director of the Peace Corps under President Kennedy; then the OEO and the War on Poverty under President Johnson. Because I was too young to vote for President Kennedy in 1960, was living in the Philippines in 1964 and my absentee ballot arrived 1 month after the election, had an emergency appendectomy the early morning of Election Day in 1968....... my FIRST opportunity to vote in a ...more
A very intimate, candid glimpse of the life of Sargent Shriver and his son, Mark's struggles growing up under the Kennedy family legacy of privilege and service. Beautiful examples of Catholicism at it's best. This book struck an emotional cord with me as a Catholic and as someone who has experienced Alzheimer's with a loved one. Sargent & Eunice Shriver were a truly remarkable, inspirational couple as founders of the Peace Corp and Special Olympics - beautiful examples of service to those ...more
Joseph J.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 20th. century political interest; faith and public service interest
More than a son's loving memoir of his father-and that would be enough-this is also a son's self reflection in light of his "good" father's life and descent into Alzheimer's and death. Yet descent isn't the proper world; after reading of Sargent Shriver's life, faith and compassion for humanity, I must use the term ascent to death. Despite Mark Shriver's personal journey with his father's long battle with this wasting disease, his father's death is actually a triumph of a life very, very well ...more
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2012
Incredible!! What a privelege to read this and learn about this extraordinary man! Thank you for sharing him with us Mark Shriver. "What Would Sargeant Shriver Do" would be another great measure for life.

Pres. Clinton summed it up beautifully in his eulogy, "A whole generation of us understood what President Kennedy meant by looking at Sargeant Shriver's life".

Just some of my favorite take-away's:
-"Break your mirror". Take the focus off yourself. Look less at your face and more at your
Jul 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Initially I was put off by the introduction (adoring son writing about how great his dad was when alive), but as I kept reading I ended up enjoying it much more than I expected. Sargent Shriver was the founder of the Peace Corps (assigned to bring the idea of his brother in law JFK to life) and his wife, Eunice< of the Special Olympics. I think both of those organizations of are pretty magnificent so it made the reading more interesting. Shriver does sound like he was a good man and although ...more
Frances Johnson
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great book about a very good man. Sargent Shriver was often over shadowed by his dynamic wife or his Kennedy in-laws, however Sarge was a very talented, caring man who achieved much in his life. Like all mortals, he did grow old and he and his family had to deal with the many problems of growing old. This is a tender but totally frank story by his son. It's the story of Sarge Shriver, the man, his work, but also the story of a son and his father and how they both dealt with his aging.For all ...more
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Was very excited to read more about Sargent Shriver but this book is somewhat disappointing. Very few insights. Mark is a great guy but he glosses over the early years of his childhood and does not give the reader a true sense of what Sargent was like at home.
Still worth reading just to get some new telling of the amazing contributions of this larger family.
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Memoir of the Kennedy in-law, program-head, politician father by his third of four sons is a warm paean to a man he says throughout he wanted to know better. One-sided as one might expect in a book written by a son, it deals with none of the controversies over the War on Poverty programs his father dealt with but spends the most time on the hours he and his father spent together. The author is best and most honest in dealing with his father in his years with Alzheimer's disease, admitting the ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reading this book only reminded me of what a remarkable person Sargent Shriver was. I met Sarge 5 or 6 times and he was always smiling and bouncy a force of nature. I first met him while serving with the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers in the Philippines in 1961. Subsequent meetings all were during Peace Corps events and reunions. The last time I saw Sarge was during our 40 + 1 reunion. This book, written by his youngest son, is a love song with religious overtones.. perhaps an extended ...more
Apr 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: dnf
I was inspired in reading about Sargent Shriver faith and devotion to family.

The book got tiresome about 1/3 of the way through. After reading about the Shriver child who bullied and tried to drown the child of the family's new cook, I couldn't take much more. I appreciate the writer's honesty and would like to have learned if Sargent Shriver resolved this for the fool's family. Perhaps finding employment where the family did Not bully.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book. It was written from the heart and I think about it often in terms of living a good life. A life well lived. That we are not called to be successful, but called to be faithful. This latter adjective can be whatever you need it to be, but faithful should be in the altruistic spectrum, I would think.
Jeff Harris
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
An inspiring book about a remarkable person.
Linda Metrick
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
A book about a man so close to power shed very little light on the events of the time.
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
#3 of 130 books pledged to read during 2020
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was so excited when I won this book on GoodReads. I love historical books and I love autobiographies, biographies and memoirs so I really expected to fall in love with this book. My brother served in the Peace Corps, which Sargent Shriver founded, and I was looking forward to reading about the creation of that program. I did like it a lot but I didn't fall in love.

I wanted this book to be full of historical fact and achievements. I expected to read about the healing of a nation after J.F.
Clif Brittain
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Catholics
This is the most intimate portrait of the Kennedy clan I've permitted myself. I generally try to avoid prying into the lives of public figures, but since this was written by one of them, it is not like I'm spying.

Mark Shriver is to speak at an author's event I'm attending next month (Opus & Olives, Friends of the St. Paul Public Library), so I thought it would be good to read what he's written.

What is most interesting to me is Sargent Shriver's devotion to the Catholic faith. It shaped his
Carolyn Russett
May 30, 2016 rated it liked it
In this intimate portrait of an extraordinary father-son relationship, Mark K. Shriver discovers the moral principles that guided his legendary father and applies them to his own lifeWhen Sargent "Sarge" Shriverfounder of the Peace Corps and architect of President Johnson's War on Povertydied in 2011 after a valiant fight with Alzheimer's, thousands of tributes poured in from friends and strangers worldwide. These tributes, which extolled the daily kindness and humanity of "a good man," moved ...more
Teresa Biggie
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I did not know much about Sargent Shriver other than he married Eunice Kennedy and started the Peace Corp. I have read several bios on various members of the Kennedys and he is always a foot note . He sounds like a fascinating man and it made me realize from Mark's point of view how little any of us know our parents or from the other point of my children really know me and what I believe and stand for.
I think it was well written book . It was not all roses and gum drops. I think Mark
Delores Thomas
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an analysis of what made Sarg Shriber tick. And the simple and complex answer is Faith, Hope, and Love. Particularly love of God and Jesus Christ. I thought I wouldn't care too much for it since he was a Catholic and I am not. However, reading this and his thought methods I realized that he saw everyone as one of God's children so he should love and give his attention to each person God sends, be it aristocrat, governmental power monger, or any person who came into his sphere of vision. ...more
May 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Mark Shriver is not the man his father was, and he knows it. This book is like a love letter or an apology for not being AS great as his dad to Sargent. As a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I found the tale of its creation interesting, though not detailed enough for my tastes. If anything, the book is a recipe for how to have an exceptional life. Sargent didn't yell at his kids, was of great faith, seems to have always been positive and so on. Mark does not address the Kennedy's money advantages ...more
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book focuses on Sargent Shriver's personal/family life -- not so much his public life. It reflects his son's effort to understand why so many people described his father as "a good man." The first part identifies the importance of faith, love, and hope in his father's life. He attributes his father's positive spirit to a reliance on his Catholic faith, with Jesus as his inspiration. The author describes the difficulty of accepting his father's decline due to Alzheimer's. However, his father ...more
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
An excellant memoir/biography. Mark Shriver writes about his father, Sargent Shriver, founder of the Peace Corp. Sargent Shriver married Eunice Kennedy, sister of President Kennedy. He ran for Vice President along with presidential candidate George McGovern in 1972.

Most of all though, this is a family story of a son's relationship with his famous father, and equally famous Kennedy legacy. He writes with feeling about his father and especially the difficulty the whole family had when Sargent
Scott Schneider
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is more of a memoir than a biography. Based on this book I would argue that Sargent Shriver was a saint, not just a good man. There are a lot of interesting stories in here, like how Shriver convinced Kennedy to call Coretta King when Martin was in jail, which helped rally support from the black community. Also how he went to mass Every Day. Mark anguishes over his inadequacies to live up to his father's stature and example, for example in coping with defeat at the polls. The book was ...more
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very good book about Sargent Shriver a man of Faith, hope and love. His son did a great job describing a life of serving others and daily devotions at Mass. I remember seeing Sargent Shriver on TV talking about politics. After reading this book I have much better glimpse into his life and a new respect for him. He was a rich and powerful man but humble enough to put God first while doing his best to help the poor and handicapped. It is too bad that the Democratic Party has lately ...more
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Such a well-written book! It is both objective and personal account of a son's view of his father. Mark Shriver discusses his father's personality and actions by how the man affected his own family, friends, and others. Sargent Shriver was not seducted by power and prestige, even though he certainly traveled in those circles. The title is the phrase most often associated with him. The author, his son, came to understand just have appropriate that phrase describes his father. The book is ...more
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
After his father died, the one comment that Mark Shriver heard over and over again was "Your father was not only a great man, but he was also a good man."

The distinction being that even though Sargent Shriver had many accomplishments on the world stage, (government service that included the creation of the Peace Corp) he never lost sight of those things that meant most to him: his family, his country, and he relationship with his God.

I really enjoyed this book.
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Moving and thoughtful" are the words on the cover describing the book, a description by the Washington Post. What a fitting description. Sarge Shriver's life of service, love, hope and faith was amazing and something to admire and strive towards. I had to read this for a freshman seminar, and I really didnt mind it. Sure, some parts were not as great as others, but it was good. I'm glad we read it. I cannot wait to see how it will come up in the 1st semester
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“He was having one of those lucid moments that make you, as a loved one of an Alzheimer's victim, forget for a minute or two that this is all really happening.

You can forget about the disease and its toll and confusion and suddenly engage with the same person with whom you conversed profoundly for so many years, until it all started to go haywire. In that moment I wanted to know what I think so many Alzheimer's caregivers crave to understand: Do you know what has become of you? Can you, so lucid now, see how you act when you are not like you are now? Does it make you sad? Does it make you ashamed?

The reprieve right there at the red light was momentary, even illusory. But there for the taking, right in front of me--so obvious that I almost panicked over what to talk about. Do we discuss his beloved baseball? His beloved grandchildren? Me--how I'm doing, how much I miss him?

No. As much out of curiosity as concern, I wanted to talk about him.

"Dad," I said, "you are losing your mind. You know that. How does that make you feel? How are you doing with that?"

"I'm doing the best I can with what God has given me," he said.”
“I suggest this: When you get to be thirty, forty, fifty, or even seventy years old, you'll get more happiness and contentment out of counting your friends than counting your dollars.” 1 likes
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