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The Broken Road: George Wallace and a Daughter’s Journey to Reconciliation

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  103 ratings  ·  33 reviews
From the daughter of one of America's most virulent segregationists, a memoir that reckons with her father George Wallace's legacy of hate--and illuminates her journey towards redemption.

In the summer of 1963, Peggy Wallace Kennedy was a young girl watching her father stand in a schoolhouse door as he tried to block two African-American students from entering the
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published December 3rd 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing
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Jul 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
Thanks to Bloomsbury for the ARC at BEA 2019.

TLDR: this book is revisionist history designed to protect the Wallace legacy, don't read it.

This book is Peggy Wallace Kennedy's memoir of growing up with and dealing with the legacy of her infamous father, Governor of Alabama and Independent candidate for President in 1968 and 1972, George Wallace. I was skeptical of what this book would entail; Wallace was not only directly responsible for an enormous amount of harm by being one of the most ardent
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Releases on December 3, 2019, I read an advanced reader copy from the publisher. Not what I expected, which I think was more introspection of Ms. Wallace Kennedy's own part in growing up as George Wallace's daughter and then her own work as a civil rights advocate. I don't have enough scholarly knowledge to judge if this is "revisionist" in nature but it must be affected by a daughter's lens. It is a little disjointed in terms of timeline so I needed to keep that in mind as I read. I am very ...more
Jill Meyer
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In November, 2008, soon after the Obama presidential victory, I read an article in - I think, "USA Today" - written by Peggy Wallace Kennedy. Wallace Kennedy was the daughter of Governors George and Lurleen Wallace and in the article she writes of visiting her parents' graves in Alabama earlier that fall. She was approached by a little old lady who told her how much she had loved Peggy's parents, and, as an aside, wouldn't George be horrified at the thought of a black man (I'm sure she might ...more
Donna Davis
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: white supremacists that want to feel good about themselves.
“I was perhaps Daddy’s most important legacy of all.”

Thanks go to Bloomsbury and Net Galley for the review copy, which I read free and early in exchange for this honest review.

I was a child during the Civil Rights era, and although I didn’t live in the American South, I recall news footage of Kennedy’s father, George Wallace, the man that the author rightly attributes as a harbinger of the Trump movement. Instead of “Make America Great Again,” Wallace urged his constituents—including the Klan,
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was an education for me. Born the same year as Peggy I fell a connection in historical data. You often wonder about the children of politicians and how they feel about what is going on. Peggy doesn't sugar coat her life or over dramatizes it but basically tells about her feelings. The conflicting emotions and trying to understand her father . Through her we got a bit better understanding what kind of man George Wallace was. Half a century of history in Alabama through the eyes of a ...more
Cleveland Thornton
I write to comment on the post about this book being revisionist history. It is not and the commentator who made that statement did not read the book or knows little of the history of that period. I did live in Alabama during that time and I do know Peggy Wallace Kennedy and I did know George Wallace (when I was a young man). I did work on civil rights cases in Alabama during that time and after. I was a young man in high school through law school in Alabama during all these times recounted by ...more
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to meet Peggy Wallace Kennedy in Montgomery recently at a short talk regarding this book that she and her husband, Justice Kennedy, gave at Read Herring bookstore. She spoke straight from the heart, and that is the way this book reads. I still don't really feel I understand her father, a man whose career as a segregationist was book-ended by periods of surprisingly progressive and tolerant thinking. He emerges in the book as a very remote father and husband, and even now it is ...more
Andrea SJ
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
A bit of rehabilitation of Wallace, and there are some problematic understandings of racism here but it also contains some honest appraisals of Wallace’s flaws.
Tom Schulte
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
[I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

This memoir by George Wallace's daughter covers an arc from an unaware child to an adult woman coming to grip a segregationist family legacy remembered shaped by these six words: "Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!" and other lines attributed to Wallace (some worse) recalled here. The picture I get is over that man's long life his views evolved while his views
...more Biography & Memoir
George Wallace, the four-time governor of Alabama, was a controversial figure by any reckoning. His daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, seeks to smooth some of his edges for posterity’s sake, and for our finer understanding of the man, his policies and his actions.

The son of a raging, alcoholic father, Wallace rose to prominence in government by following his own gut and utilizing his penchant for folksy chatter underpinned by a will to achieve power. Failing to win the governorship his first time
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting look inside the family that benefitted most from George Wallace’s racist rhetoric. Rhetoric that lit the dynamite in the church that killed four African-American girls: Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise McNair.

Rhetoric that unleashed fire hoses and dogs on innocent people. Rhetoric that resulted in Jimmie Lee Jackson being beaten to death by Alabama state troopers. Rhetoric that drove a bullet through the head of civil rights activist, Viola
Mary Barrow
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Peggy Wallace Kennedy’s memoir, 'The Broken Road',transcends family loyalty by providing truth and moral guidelines for her sons, for her grandchildren and for the archives of American history. This takes guts.

When a teenager rebels against parents we stand back and make room for his/her mistakes. However, when a much younger child instinctively knows a father is wrong in both his behavior and in his attitudes there is often no way to rebel, or to voice those fundamental disagreements. For some
Vicki Boyd
Read the book through in less than 24 hours. I recall George and Lurleen Wallace visiting my school to campaign when I was around 10 years old. Theirs was already a household name in mine and every other Alabama
Though I well remember the times of Wallace as governor I was too young to understand it, too young to have opinions beyond those I was exposed to in that place and time. I was aware of the adoration and support for Wallace and why.
And like his daughter, Peggy, I would spend years
Aug 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, racism, politics
Minor Spoilers-3.5/5

‘The lesson of the broken road is one of coming to terms with the past, not for the sake of forgetting or forgiving, but rather for the truth.’-Peggy Wallace Kennedy.

Wallace immediately enthralls readers by courageously recounting her visit to Selma on the anniversary of the historic march that played a crucial role during the 1960s civil rights movement. This sets the tone for the book-she loved her father but disapproved of his political mongering to gain power in American
Briayna Cuffie
Disclaimer: I received this as an eARC via NetGalley in partnership with the publisher, for a fair and unbiased review.

For a memoir with reconciliation in the title, I expected more....teeth. I didn’t expect Peggy to write some scathing reprimand of her father, but I definitely expected more intensity. The tome of the book is quite conversational. Though I’ve never heard her voice, I felt as though I was reading it in her voice. I also appreciate that she included
Rian Nejar
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
The complex life of a First Daughter of Alabama

Marketing and editorial reviews notwithstanding, this is no searing memoir, nor is it "timeless and timely." It is, quite simply, the story of a girl who survived a life of tumultuous events of her time with grace and good fortune.

An all-American daughter describes her eventful life with a highly ambitious, racist, narcissistic, wheeler-dealer of a politician father of the deep south. In a life that included a missing father who became a four-term
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Broken Road: George Wallace and a Daughter’s Journey to Reconciliation
by Peggy Wallace Kennedy

The Broken Road is a wonderfully written memoir by the second child of George Wallace and Lurleen Wallace. The author covers much of the family’s story from before she was born through the four terms her father served as governor. The reader will learn about how George Wallace, from childhood, had a lifelong desire to be Governor of Alabama, how he evolved during his life and did whatever was
Steve Stegman
Jan 07, 2020 rated it liked it
When I was in Kindergarten in Selma, AL I still remember the 8 x10 glossy photo I received from Gov. George Wallace with his signature in the lower corner. I wish I had kept that photo. At the time it made me feel very special to receive a photo signed by the Governor. But after reading this book, I realize it was all part of the Wallace political machine. Sending photos, letters, making calls, shaking hands with common folk across the state was the Wallace brand. This brand was promoted at the ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I was majoring in communications back in the day, working in the political realm wasn’t even on my radar. Yet, that’s where most of my career has been. Alabama politics, in particular, has a storied and often distressing history. Thankfully, we are not all the same and it was an honor to visit with someone intimately affected by Alabama’s political history and the people behind the political curtain - a daughter of two governors: her father and her mother. Peggy Wallace Kennedy has written ...more
J.A. McNeil
Dec 29, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a fast, easy and interesting read to someone who grew up with relatives in the south who did NOT vote against segregation. From Wallace’s ascent in the racially charged environment of the South in the 50’s, I can see how Trump supporters are swayed into believing he’s the next son of God. Wallace and Trump would have definitely had a good laugh as to how they managed to get their rallies to grow in size while inciting racial and antisemitic violence among their bases.

It takes courage
Dec 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: library, biography
It was good to read that George Wallace basically repented of his acts and abuse of power that he used during the time of his governorship of Alabama. Some people say it was because of the assassination attempt on his life that brought things into proper perspective. Whatever the cause of those years of upheaval, it wasn't a good time for the underprivileged and underrepresented in his state. It seems that he had good intentions in the beginning but then bowed to the political maneuvering that ...more
Carol Dimitriou
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
This book tells the story of former Governor George Wallace , written by his daughter, Peggy. It shows the effects that his desire for power had on his family, as well as the public. It compares the divisiveness of those times to today's situation with President Donald Trump. Both men used the discontent of many of the people to further their ambition for power. It is well written, and very interesting.

I won this book in a GOODREADS giveaway, and I thank both Goodreads and Bloomsbury for giving
Jan 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
A missed opportunity. I wanted to know how the author came to adopt a more anti-racist perspective amidst decades of closeness to some of the most fervent practitioners of racism. Instead, the book reads as at best a naive biography written by a doting daughter, or at worst a cynical attempt at historical revisionism.
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
One way to build racial dexterity as white people is learning about the history of race in America. This memoire by the daughter of infamous segregationist, George Wallace, is an eye opener about nationalism and racism that explains the political state today. It’s also an exploration of politics, ambition and where love functions in those realms all under the weight of extreme racism.
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
Peggy Wallace Kennedy has written a wonderful book about her father, George Wallace and her mother, Lurleen Wallace. It's the story of a journey of forgiveness and acceptance. I especially appreciated when Peggy talked about her depression. As someone who struggles with depression and not being understood, Peggy explained it perfectly.
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Peggy Wallace Kennedy writes about her life with an ambitious, but mean and racist dad, George Wallace. She may sugarcoat somewhat, but she is seeing her dad through the lens of a daughter. It is her attempt to right the wrongs of hate and bigotry.
Katie Thiemann
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I didn't know a lot about George Wallace, nor his wife and how he rose to power. Extremely interesting in light of today's political arena. Peggy Wallace Kennedy is a brave and amazing person to be where she is now based on her upbringing.
Beau Teague
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Disjointed, erratic, and not nearly as redemptive as she would like it to be. There is SO MUCH more that could have been mined from her experience. Disappointing.

The good: I learned a lot about a bad guy I was too young to be aware of. History! Repeating!
Betty Downs
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must read for history buffs!! It tells the story of what it was like growing up as George Wallace's child and his journey as a politician. I was amazed about how much I didn't know about a man that was considered a racist.
Jan Daulton
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked this book. I grew up in Alabama during this time. I dont remember a lot about George Wallace, and this book brought back memories. I cannot imagine what it was like to grow up with GW as your Dad. Peggy tells a story well, and I enjoyed her honesty. This is a good read.
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