True Compass is Teddy Kennedy’s memoir, completed just weeks before his death last summer. The Boston Globe had a book by its writers that was in bookstores less than a month after his death. This book, by Teddy himself, was out before Christmas. I’m thinking I’ll trade this temporarily with a friend of mine who bought the Boston Globe version, so we can each have the 2 versions to talk about.
This is a book by a true Irish storyteller, so I found it very personally satisfying. I loved the details of Teddy’s growing up – the 6-year-old boy out riding at 6 in the morning with his father whenever they were on the Cape. So many rich anecdotes about the magical Kennedy older brothers, about father Joe and mother Rose, about the many schools he attended- winters in Palm Beach, the rest of the year in Boston and on the Cape. A Teddy’s eye view, as the youngest, of Joe, Jr., Jack and Bobby.
I was also very impressed with his willingness to talk about the negative stories we’ve heard about him – from cheating at Harvard to Chappaquidick, to womanizing to drinking, to his life with first wife Joan. There’s a lot less tumult once he married Vicki, a more settled feeling overall.
He talks about the causes he fought for all his life, gives us a close-up view of Kennedy and Boston and national politics. Lots of talk about the different presidents and legislators he’s worked with, and the key issues – without being wonkish. And there are great pictures in 3 different sections of the book.
I am, of course, being Irish, a Kennedy-phile. Love seeing a home-boy make good. What a family – it doesn’t bear thinking about that there will likely be no Kennedys in Congress in 2011. May it not turn out to be so.
If you love politics, this book is for you. If you love stories, this book is also for you. Have a good time with it!