CLICK Image to Buy "WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"

CLICK Image to Buy "WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"
WHEN LIONS ROAR is 'Brilliant' says Washington Post, Buy Now on Amazon

Chris Matthews Likes WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"

Chris Matthews Likes WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"
"What I like most in Maier's giant work is the spine of this saga, the all-important record of influence the great soldier-statesman-historian's life exerted on the future American president." -- Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball, review in Chartwell Bulletin, The Churchill Centre

Monday, June 30, 2008

JFK Tribute in Ireland- Jean Kennedy Smith Recalls June 1963 Trip to New Ross, County Wexford, Compares Obama to John Hume



In Ireland on Sunday, there was a homecoming of sorts for the Kennedys. A weekend long tribute marking the 45th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's 1963 trip to Ireland, featured a visit by his sister, former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith. Both Jean and Sen. Edward Kennedy were instrumental in the 1998 Northern Ireland peace process.
Amb. Jean Kennedy Smith returned to County Wexford to visit the docks in New Ross where JFK made his memorable speech, part of his historic visit a few months before his assassination. Much of this trip is recalled in my book, "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings."
According to the Irish press, Jean Kennedy Smith backed the presidential bid of Sen. Barack Obama because his style reminded her not only of JFK but of John Hume, the architect of the peace process.

Newhouse Eyes US Mag for Conde Nast Stable; Charlie Rose Rumor of Rolling Stone Not So -- Who Knows Maybe That's Next!

Ok, so Charlie Rose was kind of in the ballpark, even if he didn't quite get it right and hit a home run. As Keith J. Kelly reports in the New York Post, Jann Wenner is apparently thinking of selling US magazine for as much as $750 mil to Conde Nast supremo, S. I. Newhouse Jr. On this PBS program last week, Rose asked Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter is Newhouse was going to buy Rolling Stone. Who knows, maybe that's next! (See Charlie's quesion around 32:00 on the counter of this clip)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Newhouse to Buy Rolling Stone? Charlie Rose Quizzes Graydon Carter on Rumor du Jour, and Watch his Reaction. Will Founder Jann Wenner Get to Stay?

Fans of the Conde Nast empire of media magnate S.I. Newhouse must be wondering about the latest gossip, a sale that could rival and exceed the Newhouse 1990s purchase of Wired magazine.
Gotta love Folio magazine for spotting the rumor of a Newhouse purchase of Rolling Stone magazine during a tossaway question by Charlie Rose the other night. The question pops up at around 32:00 into this snippet and watch the startled look on the face of Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. There's no cutaway quick enough to catch the reaction of Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone's founder, sitting around Charlie's TV table.
Around Manhattan, Charlie Rose is friendly with many media characters in the Newhouse empire. Do I think that Charlie may have heard that rumor from someone in the know? You bet.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Irish Leader Recalls Role of Kennedys in the Peace Process

In May 2008, Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, T.D., Prime Minister of Ireland, spoke about the role Senator Edward M. Kennedy in the Irish peace process and makes several allusions to the Kennedy family's immigrant roots to Ireland, much of which are explored in "The Kennedy: America's Emerald Kings".


Friday, June 27, 2008

Caroline Kennedy, Supporter of Barack Obama, May Have Hillary Clinton to Thank In the Long Run


Will Caroline Kennedy enter the family business of politics, or has she done so already and few have noticed? As a member of Barack Obama's VP sweepstakes team, Caroline was spotted with colleague Eric Holder at a local DC eatery, presumably talking about the VP possibilities for the boss. But as this USA Today story notes, Caroline may be thinking of a political career herself, once the 2008 campaign is over. The mind swims with possibilities: Perhaps she might run for Congress from Suffolk County, Long Island, where her family has a home in the Hamptons. Bear in mind, Suffolk is a lucky place for the Kennedys. The last stop in the 1960 campaign for her father, John F. Kennedy, was from the old Commack, N.Y. Arena before flying home to Massachusetts for the vote counting. If Caroline ran for office in New York, presumably she'd seek the blessings of NY Sen. Hillary Clinton. Or better yet, perhaps Caroline helps Hillary get the VP nod, the Obama-Clinton ticket wins, and Caroline runs for the US Senate seat vacated by Hillary! How that's for the game of fantasy politics? No matter what happens with Sen. Obama, if Caroline Kennedy seeks higher office in politics, she'll undoubtedly have Hillary Clinton to thank in some way. Hillary's campaign certainly helped future women seeking higher office.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

History with a little bit of wine in the Hamptons this weekend.


History with a little bit of wine in the Hamptons this weekend. We'll be talking about the Kennedy and the Bush political dynasties this Sunday and I'm all revved up to throw in my two cents.
The newly-issued edition of "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings" is coming out in two weeks, along with a brand new Warner Home Video documentary this fall based on the book. As a warm-up, I'll be appearing Sunday, June 29 at Palmer Vineyards "Writers on the Vine" series hosted by Larry Davidson, along with author and journalist Craig Unger. We'll be talking about politics, the media and the role of the Kennedys and Bushes legacies in the 2008 presidential campaign.
Here's the details:
Sunday, June 29th, "Writers on the Vine", Palmer Vineyards, 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Topic: Then and Now
Thomas Maier, "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings"
Craig Unger, "The Fall of the House of Bush". Unger is a New York Times Best-Selling author and a frequent analyst on CNN and other broadcast outlets. He has written for "The New Yorker", "Esquire" and "Vanity Fair".
Directions to Palmer Vineyards: LIE to last exit (exit 73). Continue east on RT 58 to Osborne Ave. Turn left. Drive to end (Sound Ave). Turn right. Drive 6 miles to Palmer Vineyards, on the left.
From the South Shore:
Route 27-Sunrise Highway to 24 North. 24 North to Route 105 North. Right on to 105. Take 105 to the second light, Route 43. Make a right on Route 43 and go to the end, Sound Ave. Make a right on Sound Ave. The Winery is 1 1/2 miles on the left.

45th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy and Ireland -- Display at JFK Library and Read More in Re-Issued Book Along with New Warner Home DVD


At the JFK Library in Boston, there's a display "John F. Kennedy and Ireland" that examines the influence of his Irish-Catholic immigrant background. This week marks the 45th anniversary of JFK''s extraordinary trip to Ireland in June 1963, a few months before his assassination. My newly re-issued biography, "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings", goes much further in examining the impact of the family's Irish Catholic immigrant roots on their public and private lives.

Here's a few snippets from the JFK Library on-line display:
During President Kennedy’s historic visit to Ireland in June 1963, he remarked to the people of New Ross, Ireland:
“When my great grandfather left here to become a cooper in East Boston, he carried nothing with him except two things: a strong religious faith and a strong desire for liberty. I am glad to say that all of his great-grandchildren have valued that inheritance.”


“If the day was clear enough, and if you went down to the bay and you looked west, and your sight was good enough, you would see Boston, Massachusetts,” President Kennedy said at the time. “And if you did, you would see down working on the docks there some Dougherty’s and Flaherty’s and Ryan’s and cousins of yours who have gone to Boston and made good.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Kennedy Watch 2008 - More than 2,000 Comparisons to JFK in the Press This Election Year; Also, Bobby's Prophecy of 'Negro' President


Just call it "Compare-alot". With this post, we're starting the Kennedy Watch 2008 -- watching just how many times the two candidates invoke the Kennedy name on the campaign trail this year. We've already counted over 2,000 comparisons in the press to Kennedy's 1960 campaign. Of course, we're doing our part at this blog as well!

There are a lot of intriguing parallels between the 2008 Obama presidential bid and past Kennedy campaigns, especially JFK's 1960 victory. Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson and just about every other major candidate this year also basked in their own Kennedy moment. As explored in my newly-reissued book, "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings," Kennedy overcame considerable bigotry as an Irish Catholic to become the only U.S. president ever elected from a minority background. As the new preface for my book suggests, Obama has a lot to learn from that 1960 campaign. Perhaps the most remarkable Kennedy comparison so far in this campaign was noted by Tim Russert in the last "Meet The Press" he hosted before his death. Russert pulled up an old Washington Post clip in which then U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy predicted America would elected an African-American president in 40 years, based on the nation's rate of racial progress. As Russert seemed to suggest, it sounded like RFK was almost prophetic about an Obama candidacy.
The other evening, Rep. Patrick Kennedy recalled how his uncle made that prediction during a 1960s speech and some people in the audience walked out. Maybe they went out to make a bet. As I said, prophecies and comparisons are all part of the Kennedy Watch 2008.

Tribute to Robert W. Greene -- Bob Greene of Newsday Was A Great Journalist Always Looking Ahead


At Sunday's tribute to Newsday's Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Robert W. Greene, held at SUNY Stony Brook, there were several of us who spoke. Here's my comments:

Bob Greene was Mr. Newsday. He, more than anyone, took this suburban paper that I delivered as a kid in the early 1970s -- about the same time I met Bob -- and put it on the map with hard-hitting stories that everyone just had to read. He understood that reporting is the key, that if you could find out the real story of what was going on, somehow we’d all be better for it.
As a reporter, when you found a good story, there was no one you wanted to tell it to more than Bob. He could spot a story’s strengths and weaknesses and help you boil it down to its essentials. And no one was better at telling stories than Bob, particularly when holding court in a restaurant. A few years ago, he told me how young Bobby Kennedy – when he worked for him on the Senate Rackets Committee – was convinced Jimmy Hoffa was lying on the stand. Everytime, Hoffa denied any mob influence under oath, Kennedy put his hand over his own microphone, glared at Hoffa and mouthed the words, “Bull Shit.” I can still see Bob re-enacting that scene, mouthing that barnyard profanity with great theatricality and glee.

In looking back today at all his achievements, bear in mind that Bob was always looking ahead, as much as anyone in journalism. He not only pioneered an investigative team at Newsday, but to young journalists literally around the world he promoted the idea of investigative reporting in all its forms. He was among the first to support computer-assisted reporting, and he was a founder of the national IRE that has trained tens of thousands of young journalists over the past three decades. Just about every investigative reporter in this country has benefited somehow from Bob’s advice and his example. If he was still at Newsday today, I'm sure he'd be planning to put his next big investigative series onto the web with an interactive video. He had that type of mind -- always probing, always pushing for excellence, a creative energy that refused to take no for an answer when people said things couldn't be done.
More than his contemporaries, young people at Newsday -- and later at Hofstra and Stony Brook -- recognized Bob for what he truly was -- a genius of the craft of journalism. They knew him as a great teacher, a wonderful story-teller, a constant recruiter and promoter of talent. He could teach you about "the sniff" when you began an investigation, about "the vulch" after you finished it -- and everything else in between. There was an authenticity about Bob, the received wisdom of a man who had seized life -- as he would say, squeezed the grape. He could be a fierce investigator, a demanding boss, and a relentless seeker of truth. But in his heart, Bob always understood the frailty and redeeming grace in humanity.
This point was particularly driven home when the last of us on the Greene team put together a video for Bob's retirement party, essentially a good-natured toast as he went out the door. On camera, we included fond farewells from some who had pled guilty or been disgraced because of the wrongdoing Bob exposed. More than one reformed crook told us gratefully how Bob wrote the judge a "good guy" letter for them, trying to lessen their jail term. After all, who knew more about the severity of their crime than Bob, right? In that sense, Bob always seemed to me an Italian Renaissance man, chronicling the parade as he found it, much more than some mirthless Puritan, a prosecutor in print collecting scalps. Bob could teach you all the skills of investigative reporting, but from him you could also learn a lot about life.

Whether in the newsroom or the classroom, he constantly pushed you to do better, the way a master teacher does. With Bob, there was always the thrill of the hunt for something you didn't know, his appreciation for a well-turned phrase, and always the anticipation, as Ken Crowe once told me, that you were going to do something big with Greene -- and you damn sure wanted to be part of it.
What is most lasting, especially for those of us who knew him for so many years, is the spirit and idealism that Bob carried until the day he died. For young journalists today, there can be no better lesson.



Tuesday, June 24, 2008

George Carlin, JFK, Joe Kennedy, and Being an Irish Catholic

On Larry King's CNN tribute to George Carlin, who died earlier this week, a band of comedians, including Jerry Seinfeld, remembered one of the truly great American humorists of our lifetime. Near the end of the program, Hugh Hefner, who helped introduce Carlin to America on his old "Playboy After Dark" television show, told a story of going to watch Carlin at a Chicago club with Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of President John F. Kennedy. Carlin was a young comedian who perfected a dead-on imitation of JFK. Hefner recalls that old man Kennedy didn't laugh that night. "He definitely wasn't amused," recalled Hefner. (See that video below).

Joe Kennedy may have been the only Irish-Catholic in America who didn't find Carlin funny. I first heard Carlin's routine "I Used To Be An Irish Catholic" when I attended St. Anthony's High School on Long Island, where there were more than a few Irish Catholics like myself. (An explanation of my family tree is disclosed in the beginning of "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings"). Carlin's recollection of going to confession and the different types of Irish-American accents to be found in New York City is hilarious. That video is also attached here.





45 Years Ago -- JFK Became The First U.S. President To Visit Ireland




On June 26, 1963, President John F. Kennedy arrived in Ireland, the first U.S. president to visit this land, and he spoke about the "emerald thread" tying together the two lands through the immigration of millions of Irish to America. Above is the first page from my book, "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings" that recalls that visit and, throughout the book, examines the influence of the Kennedys' Irish Catholic immigrant background on their public and private lives. 

Sunday, June 22, 2008

JFK In Ireland -- President John F. Kennedy's 1963 Trip. Much More in "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings".



Thirty-five years ago, in late June 1963, President John F. Kennedy visited Ireland to a resounding reception. The beginning of "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings" begins with JFK's speech in New Ross, not far from the Dunganstown farm where his great-grandfather, Patrick Kennedy, left for America. JFK often spoke of the "emerald thread" of immigration that tied Ireland the United States together. Here are some of the filmed highlights from JFK's trip.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pearls of Wisdom from Dr. Spock -- Benjamin Spock on 12 Rules of Life to Consider for Baby-Boomers and Their Children





Last month, Dr. Benjamin Spock would have been 105. It's ten years since he passed away, about the same time that my bio "Dr. Spock: An American Life", was published by Harcourt Brace (It's still in print in paperback, published by Basic Books).
In my many interviews with Dr. Spock, or "Ben" as he preferred, we talked a lot about his fascinating life and times. Here's a wonderful compilation of Ben's deep and abiding wisdom, culled from his writings.

1. "I've come to the realization that a lot of our problems are because of a dearth of spiritual values."
2. "There are only two things a child will share willingly -- communicable diseases and his mother's age."
3. "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do."
4. "Every child senses, with all the horse sense that's in him, that any parent is angry inside when children misbehave and they dread more the anger that is rarely or never expressed openly, wondering how awful it might be."
5. "All the time a person is a child he is both a child and learning to be a parent. After he becomes a parent he becomes predominantly a parent reliving childhood."
6. "Perhaps a child who is fussed over gets a feeling of destiny; he thinks he is the world for something important, and it gives him drive and confidence."
7. "Happiness is mostly a by-product of doing what makes us feel fulfilled."
8. "In automobile terms, the child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering."
9. "In our country today, very few children are raised to believe that their principal destiny is to serve their family, their country, or God."
10. "The fact is that child rearing is a long, hard job, the rewards are not always immediately obvious, the work is undervalued, and parents are just as human and almost as vulnerable as their children."
11. "I would say that the surest measure of a man's or a woman's maturity is the harmony, style, joy, and dignity he creates in his marriage, and the pleasure and inspiration he provides for his spouse."
12. "What good mothers and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is usually best after all."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tina Brown and Anna Wintour -- Still Conde Nasties with Each Other?

It's amusing to see those two old Anglophiles -- Tina Brown and Anna Wintour -- still fighting it out for public attention, at least according to the Gawker. (I love pronouncing 'Gawker' with my Long Island accent). A decade ago, I interviewed Tina Brown for my 1994 award-winning book "Newhouse" over breakfast at her favorite booth at "44" inside the Royalton Hotel. She was aware that my book would be the first to tell the story of her mercurial rise in the Newhouse empire, creating the modern-day Vanity Fair when all seemed lost for poor Si.
During my research, Wintour had the usual Conde Nast cone of silence in place when I knocked on her door for an interview, so I'm partial to Brown for her willngness to talk. (Hey, now there's a name for a new mag -- TALK!) For all her ups and down, Brown remains a talented editor/journalist/columnist/author and maybe even a website aggregator. Contrary to what Radar says, there's no comparison to someone like Peggy Noonan, the "new Tina Brown"?
Apparently, Tina is working on a new bio on Hillary Clinton and talked about it on The View.

Kennedys in Hollywood


Whenever two subjects of my books converge, I love it. My 1994 "Newhouse" biography chronicled the ups and down at Vanity Fair, first with Tina Brown and then Graydon Carter at the magazine owned by the Newhouse family. In its April 2002 issue, VF featured this article about Joseph P. Kennedy actions in Hollywood. The author gained access to the same recently-opened JPK papers at the Kennedy Library that I used for my book, "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings," soon to be re-issued by Basic Books. The new Warner Bros. documentary based on my book, coming out this November, will feature little-known footage about the Kennedy patriarch. But the treasure trove of Joe Kennedy papers are still being mined by historians and biographers. For my money, the most important historical find in the Joe Kennedy papers is its details about the family's Vatican relationship. If this had been known publicly, the results of the 1960 election -- in which JFK, as a Catholic seeking the presidency, eloquently espoused a view of separation of church and state -- may have turned out differently. The extraordinary dealing between Joe Kennedy, Cardinal Francis Spellman, and Pope Pius XII's administrator, Count Enrico Galeazzi, is one of those stories right out of Hollywood!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

George W. Bush - Roman Catholic Convert after White House? 'He's more Catholic Than Kennedy,' Says Conservative Admirer.



A published rumor in Rome that George W. Bush might someday convert to Roman Catholicism has all the conservatives in the church atwitter.
William Rutler, a friend of Mr. Bush's, told the Catholic News Agency that the president has a deep respect for Catholicism.
"I think what fascinates him about Catholicism is its historical plausibility," Fr. Rutler said. "He does appreciate the systematic theology of the church, its intellectual cogency and stability." He also went on to mention that Mr. Bush "is not unaware of how evangelicalism - by comparison with Catholicism - may seem more limited both theologically and historically."


It's funny how someone in the church's American conservative branch like Father Rutler, who writes for such Christ-like publications devoted to the poor as the National Review, is such an expert on Evangelicals. (Full Disclosure: The good padre was no friend of my Kennedy tome, nor the Kennedys for that matter.)

When asked about Bush's possible conversion, that noted theologian, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum told the Washington Post, "I don't think there's any question about it. He's certainly more Catholic than Kennedy."

Geez, now there's a really interesting historical what-if: Do you think Bush could have gotten re-elected president as Catholic, if a third term were possible? Mmmm, shades of 1960?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rupert Murdoch, the New York Times and the Future of American Journalism -- (Don't You Just Love Apocalyptic Headlines?)



In the current Atlantic, Mark Bowden discusses Rupert Murdoch and how his purchase of the Wall Street Journal will impact the New York Times. Bowden also addresses the broader issue about the future of American journalism -- that earnest brown-shoe, Scout's-honor version of journalism that came of age after World War II -- and what Murdoch means to it. After having worked at the Chicago Sun-Times when Murdoch bought it in 1983, and for years at Newsday which Murdoch nearly bought early this year -- I was all ears. He also pops up in my book about Si Newhouse, when the Australian-born media baron testified for the Conde Nast chieftain in his successful $1 billion tax case against the IRS.

Vanity Fair's Blog Graphic Looks Just like the Conde Nast Seating Arrangment





In its latest issue, Vanity Fair unveils its "Blogoptican" -- its assortment of blogs ranging from "Huffington Post" and "The Smoking Gun" to "Jossip" and the "Daily Kos" and "I Don't Like You in That Way." I'm amused by how many conservative blogs are on the list -- like "NewsBusters", National Review and "Michelle Malkin" -- as well as the usual liberal suspects. It makes you wonder if Christopher Hitchens had a hand in putting together this VF graphic?
Speaking of graphics, did you ever notice how everything presented by Conde Nast always seems to be framed like a seating chart at Conde Nast? I've always gotten a kick out of the musical chairs played in the Newhouse kingdom and made mention of it in my biography of Si Newhouse from the 1990s.
In this Vanity Fair arrangement of the blogosphere, I wonder who's closest to being bought by Si Newhouse?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Northern Ireland's Ian Paisley : Why You Can't Keep a Good Bigot Down -- Until Now



Ian Paisley is gone, about 30 years too late. You have to wonder how much his in-your-face bigotry contributed to the violence in Northern Ireland over the years. In my book on the Kennedys, I describe Paisley's anti-Catholic comments, which are also captured in this video above. Paisley always reminded me of George Wallace, the erstwhile former Gov. of Alabama, whose bigotry earlier in this career overshadowed whatever good he tried to accomplish later in life.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Camelot Advisors in Vanity Fair -- Ted Sorensen and Arthur M. Schlesinger



Theodore Sorensen, whose comments can be found in my book "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings", is now enjoying a best-selling memoir about his Kennedy years and his career. Here's a video from Vanity Fair of JFK's top advisers who gathered in 2006 for this photo-shoot, shortly before Arthur M. Schlesinger died. Below is an interview of Schlesinger by TV Host Charlie Rose. Schelsinger's biography, along with the later one published by Evan Thomas, are the two best books devoted exclusively to Bobby's life and times.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

Russert's Last Show: Kennedy's Prophecy: 40 Years Ago, Robert Kennedy predicted U.S. would be ready to elect an African-American as President



This is from a post earlier this week:
On today's "Meet the Press," host Tim Russert recalled the seemingly uncanny prediction by Robert Kennedy in the early 1960s that America would be ready to elect an African-American as president by 2008. "There is no question about it," said Kennedy to the Washington Post. "In the next 40 years a Negro can achieve the same position that my brother has." Kennedy said race relations were progressing at such a rate that "we are not going to accept the status quo."
In underlying this quote, Russert seemed amazed by Kennedy's almost prophetic comment. "Extraordinarily prescient," said Russert.
As my book explains in detail, the Kennedys likened the plight of blacks in America to their own understanding of bigotry faced by Irish Catholics in Boston. In his bid for president in 1960, John F. Kennedy struggled to overcome the fears and bias against the notion of having a Catholic in the White House. (Interestingly, even Martin Luther King's father, a well-known Baptist minister, opposed Kennedy initially because of his religion.)
Russert probably remembers his own reaction to JFK's election, as my book recounts on page 598-99: "Sophisticates such as television commentator Tim Russert still remember how the Irish Catholics in his old Buffalo neighborhood, the morning after the 1960 election, bounded out of their houses and yelled, We won! We won! 'He was Irish Catholic and one of us,' Russert recalled. 'For me it was so important because I now realized we could do anything. There were no more obstacles, no more limits."

Tim Russert Remembered



NBC newsman Tim Russert had a wonderful appreciation of American history, borne of his own humble beginnings as the son a sanitation worker in Buffalo. During last week's "Meet the Press," which would be his last, Russert recalled the seemingly uncanny prediction by Robert Kennedy in the early 1960s that America would be ready to elect an African-American as president by 2008. "There is no question about it," said Kennedy to the Washington Post. "In the next 40 years a Negro can achieve the same position that my brother has." Kennedy said race relations were progressing at such a rate that "we are not going to accept the status quo."
In underlying this quote, Russert seemed amazed by Kennedy's almost prophetic comment. "Extraordinarily prescient," said Russert.
As an Irish Catholic, Russert probably remembers his own reaction to JFK's election, breaking a barrier by becoming the first Catholic elected to the White House. As my book recounts on page 598-99: "Sophisticates such as television commentator Tim Russert still remember how the Irish Catholics in his old Buffalo neighborhood, the morning after the 1960 election, bounded out of their houses and yelled, We won! We won! 'He was Irish Catholic and one of us,' Russert recalled. 'For me it was so important because I now realized we could do anything. There were no more obstacles, no more limits."
Here's Russert talking about his father during a 2004 interview with Charlie Rose.

Sexism, Clinton and the Kennedy Comparison




When you go back and look at the coverage of the 1960 election -- as I did for my book "The Kennedys; America's Emerald Kings" -- it's surprising how much in-your-face bigotry that John F. Kennedy endured because of his Catholic religion, particularly by today's standards. In many ways, he was the Jackie Robinson of presidential politics, a model example for others in how to overcome historic barriers. In 2008, the Democrats offered several candidates who would be a similar "first" if elected to the presidency -- Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, and Hillary Clinton. With Clinton's departure from the race, there's now a lot of reflection about the sexism that she faced. Here's a comment from CBS news anchor Katie Couric.

Obama as the JFK Heir? Idealist, Winner or Both?




This exchange on Keith Obermann's Countdown program raised the question of whether Barack Obama was the political heir to the legacy of the Kennedys. It aired shortly after Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy prominently endorsed Obama. Note that commentator Craig Crawford isn't sure how much effect it might have to help Obama's fortune. In retrospect, though, the Kennedy imprimatur seemed to carry weight, particularly as a repudiation of the Clintons. As this program asks, Was JFK an idealist or a winner? And will Obama be the true heir to JFK's legacy as the only U.S. president to come from a minority background? In the new introduction to the newly re-issued, "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings", I compare Obama's experience thus far to JFK's 1960 campaign.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

'The Kennedys' in the Hamptons- Sunday June 29 at Palmer Vineyards "Writers on the Vine" series



With the newly-issued edition of "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings" coming out soon along with a Warner Home Video documentary, I'll be appearing Sunday, June 29 at Palmer Vineyards "Writers on the Vine" series hosted by Larry Davidson, along with author and journalist Craig Unger. We'll be talking about politics, the media and (especially me) the role of the Kennedys in the 2008 presidential campaign.
Here's the details:
Sunday, June 29th, "Writers on the Vine", Palmer Vineyards, 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Topic: Then and Now
Thomas Maier, "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings"
Craig Unger, "The Fall of the House of Bush". Unger is a New York Times Best-Selling author and a frequent analyst on CNN and other broadcast outlets. He has written for "The New Yorker", "Esquire" and "Vanity Fair".
Directions to Palmer Vineyards: LIE to last exit (exit 73). Continue east on RT 58 to Osborne Ave. Turn left. Drive to end (Sound Ave). Turn right. Drive 6 miles to Palmer Vineyards, on the left.
From the South Shore:
Route 27-Sunrise Highway to 24 North. 24 North to Route 105 North. Right on to 105. Take 105 to the second light, Route 43. Make a right on Route 43 and go to the end, Sound Ave. Make a right on Sound Ave. The Winery is 1 1/2 miles on the left.

David Broder on RFK -- Robert F. Kennedy Remembered



The Washington Post political writer David Broder remembers RFK, forty years later.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Religion in the Public Square- Romney and Kennedy Compared



Religion plays an even larger role in American politics today than it did in 1960, when JFK's Catholicism was the number one issue. Yet it is often poorly examined by the press and even historians. To suggest that the Kennedys were somehow secularists is to miss much of their story. In 1960, JFK expressed and embrace a theory of separation of church and state in the public square. It was a principled but necessary stand by Kennedy, very aware of the long history of anti-Catholicism in the US up to that point. However, the Kennedys were more involved with the Vatican than just about any other American lay Catholics. The correspondence between Joseph P. Kennedy, Cardinal Spellman, and the Vatican's administrator Count Enrico Galeazzi is probably the most fascinating nexus of religion and politics in recent American history. These letters are contained in the Joseph P. Kennedy papers at the JFK Library and are explained in detail throughout my book.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Robert Kennedy -- Raw Footage, As He Was Then 1964-1968



Bobby Kennedy's transformation is one of the most remarkable in modern American political history. He remained loyal to Sen. Joe McCarthy until the end, even after McCarthy had been publicly rebuked, and attended McCarthy's funeral. His tough-nosed approach to insider politics (dare I say, "Hardball", sorry Chris Matthews) made him the lightning rod and enforcer in his brother's 1960 campaign effort. But after JFK's assassination, the shock seemed to transform Robert F. Kennedy, in ways not easily measured. In the chapter marked "The Awful Grace of God," my book examines the impact of JFK's death on Bobby, including his first appearance after the assassination, before the Friendly Sons of Ireland in Scranton, Pa. On that St. Patrick's Day in 1964, Bobby read Thomas Davis's poem about the Irish poet Owen Roe O'Neill, one that had been read previously by his slain brother on St. Patrick's Day in Boston. The hardest line of all for RFK was the poem's refrain: "Oh! why did you leave us, Owen? Why did you die?"

Sunday, June 8, 2008

JFK In Ireland -- NBC News on President John F. Kennedy's 1963 Trip. Much More in "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings".



Last year, NBC News did an excellent job of compiling some of the old footage from JFK's 1963 trip to Ireland, a few months before his assassination. The "emerald thread" that JFK so often talked about, the ties between the Irish who fled the famine and those who found a new home as immigrants to America, was affirmed with this visit. My book explores all of the cultural forces of the Kennedys' Irish Catholic immigrant background and how it affected their public and privates lives.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ted Kennedy's Endorsement of Obama was Pivotal Moment in Primary Season



When Sen. Edward Kennedy supported Barack Obama, instead of his old political allies, the Clintons, the Democratic primary campaign took a dramatic turn. Though the Kennedys were split among their support (RFK Jr. and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend favored Hillary Clinton), the very public support for Obama by JFK's daughter, Caroline Kennedy, and his brother, Ted, attracted attention around the world. Here's a British report that captured that attention abroad.

Another Kennedy Conspiracy


In the National Review Online (Oh, where have you gone, William F. Buckley?), Kathryn Jean Lopez floats the idea that Barack Obama selected Caroline Kennedy as a prelude to some future U.S. Supreme Court nomination. And she suggests all of this subterfuge is some payback for Caroline's NY Times column that endorsed the Illinois Senator and likened him to her father and to the old days of Camelot. Sounds a little too conspiratorial to these ears, but who knows if this may lead yet to a politicall career by President Kennedy's daughter?

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings - Re-Issued Edition with New Cover and Updated Introduction



For 150 years, the story of the Kennedy family has been inextricably linked to their heritage as Irish-Catholic immigrants —from Patrick Kennedy’s 1848 arrival in Brahmin Boston from County Wexford, Ireland, to Joseph Kennedy’s Vatican ties and Jackie’s revelations of sorrow to Kennedy priest, Rev. Richard McSorley following the assassination of JFK . Through groundbreaking interviews with Senator Edward Kennedy and other Kennedy family and friends, acclaimed journalist Thomas Maier casts the Kennedy saga in an entirely new light, showing how their Irish Catholic heritage influenced their public and private decisions. Released to coincide with a new two-hour Warner Bros. Home Entertainment documentary adapted from the book, this edition features a new preface, in which Maier explores the dynamics of the three brothers, Ted Kennedy’s legacy, and the 2008 presidential elections that have been touched in so many ways by the Kennedy family.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ted Kennedy's 2007 speech marking 50th Anniversary of JFK's "A Nation of Immigrants"

Somehow, the historians of the Kennedy era have missed the significance of JFK's "A Nation of Immigrants", both to the nation and to the Kennedy themselves. In this 2007 speech, announcing the 50th anniversary re-publication of this book, Sen. Edward Kennedy underlined its lasting impact. In my biography, "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings", the origin of JFK's book is discussed at length. My book is being re-issued by Basic Books this summer, along with a Warner Home Entertainment documentary called by the same name -- "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings."

Monday, June 2, 2008

"A Nation of Immigrants" -- JFK Speech 50 Years Ago




Much of my book "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings" is based on the view that the Kennedy story is not about Camelot or "curses" but rather the story of immigration in America. The profound influence of ethnicity, religion and immigrant background on the world-view of President Kennedy is never more apparent than in his little-known 1958 booklet, "A Nation of Immigrants." It's extraordinary to me that so many Kennedy bios and histories ignore this book, which prompted the 1965 Immigration Reform Act, pushed through the Senate by his two brothers, Robert and Edward Kennedy, in JFK's memory. It brought about a profound change in immigrant policy in this country, which opened the doors to millions of new immigrants from around the world. In many ways, as my book suggests, this is perhaps the Kennedy family's greatest legacy to America.

Ted Kennedy's Courageous Words 40 Years Ago This Week

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As Sen. Edward Kennedy fights for his own life in a Duke University hospital, this video reminds us of his courageous words 40 years ago -- at the June 8, 1968 eulogy for his assassinated brother, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. In my book, I discuss at length the emotional impact of this time on the nation and on the Kennedy family themselves. Perhaps what is most striking, in retrospect, is the idealism expressed in this speech. Here are the last few words.

"For the fortunate among us, there is the temptation to follow the easy and familiar paths of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who enjoy the privilege of education. But that is not the road history has marked out for us. Like it or not, we live in times of danger and uncertainty. But they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history. All of us will ultimately be judged and as the years pass we will surely judge ourselves, on the effort we have contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which our ideals and goals have shaped that effort.
"The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American Society.
"Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live."
This is the way he lived. My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.
As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:
"Some men see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not."

"The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings" - Promotional Video




This includes excerpted interviews from CBS Evening News, Today Show, 20/20 and CNN's Paula Zahn show.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

"The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings" -- Newly-Re-issued Book Along with Warner Bros. Documentary


For 150 years, the story of the Kennedy family has been inextricably linked to their heritage as Irish-Catholic immigrants —from Patrick Kennedy’s 1848 arrival in Brahmin Boston from County Wexford, Ireland, to Joseph Kennedy’s Vatican ties and Jackie’s revelations of sorrow to Kennedy priest, Father McSorley following the assassination of JFK . Through groundbreaking interviews with Senator Edward Kennedy and other Kennedy family and friends, acclaimed journalist Thomas Maier casts the Kennedy saga in an entirely new light, showing how their Irish Catholic heritage influenced their public and private decisions. Released to coincide with a new two-hour Warner Bros. Home Entertainment documentary adapted from the book, this edition features a new preface, in which Maier explores the dynamics of the three brothers, Ted Kennedy’s legacy, and the 2008 presidential elections that have been touched in so many ways by the Kennedy family.

“There is a fascinating, five-generation story to tell here, and Maier does it well…this book reads like a metaphor for the Irish immigrant experience itself.”—Providence Journal

“You can’t understand the Kennedys unless you look at their Irish Catholic roots. Thomas Maier has gone far beyond earlier Kennedy biographers and historians to reveal ties that shaped the Kennedys long after they left Ireland. And he’s done it in a lively, readable way.”—Evan Thomas, author of Robert Kennedy: His Life

Thomas Maier is a special writer at Newsday in New York. He is the author of the critically acclaimed biography Dr. Spock, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and one of the Boston Globe’s top ten nonfiction titles of 1998, and Newhouse, which won the Frank Luther Mott Award for Best Media Book. He lives on Long Island, New York.

To Buy a Copy of "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings", please go to Amazon listing at: http://www.amazon.com/Kennedys-Americas-Five-Generation-Ultimate-Irish-Catholic/dp/0465043186/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212376713&sr=8-1.