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1. What are you currently reading? The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy by David Nasaw. Today he's known as a father, and his brood of overachievers included a President, two Senators, an Ambassador and a world renowned philanthropist. Not bad! But, as this book points out, his story would be worth telling even without the accomplishments of his kids. Imaginative and relentlessly ambitious, he made fortunes in banking, investing, real estate and motion pictures. He was a public servant and diplomat. Just reading about him is exhausting. The man was a tornado.
Jacqueline Kennedy once said that "men are such a combination of good and evil." She may have been talking about her father in law. Example: Joe Kennedy did everything he could to stay out of WWI. Simply because he didn't want to go. He was a draft dodger, it was no more complicated than that. He took a job he was unqualified for at a Massachusetts shipyard and used connections to have it declared vital to the war effort, getting him a draft deferment he didn't deserve. Legal, but amoral and sleazy. Then during the Spanish flu epidemic, he worked tirelessly to convert the shipyard dormitories into infirmaries to quarantine the sick. It was a creative solution with literally life saving results. His whole life was like this. As I read, I ping-pong between, "shame on you" and "way to go!"
This is a reread. I'm not sure why it called out to me so noisily, but it did, and so here I am. It's a fair minded and fascinating read.
BTW, Joseph Kennedy wore many hats professionally but he was NEVER a bootlegger! Nasaw puts that one to bed rather neatly. If you read much about the Kennedys, you learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. But this is one of the most baseless yet most tenacious false charges. It annoys me because Nasaw is able to debunk it so completely. Why do other biographers keep lazily picking it up?
2. What did you recently finish reading? Convicted by Lisa Scottoline. This book has everything! Murder, scandal, dark secrets, romance and a trial. It's one of those books I couldn't wait to get back to.
Back when Jason was just 12 -- young enough to still play with Legos -- he receives a draconian sentence for a minor infraction. Bennie Rosato represents the kid but it all goes terribly wrong and Jason ends up spending his teen years in juvie. 13 years later, Bennie's the head of one of Philadelphia's top law firms and Jason is the suspect in a gruesome knife murder. She takes his case because a) she feels responsible and b) here's her chance to make it right and c) SPOILER! it involves the man who got away.
This book tackles important topics, like whether incarceration ever rehabilitates a kid and who profits from for-profit prisons. But it's got enough Christmas shopping, candlelight kisses, and old-fashioned courtroom drama to keep you hooked. I really didn't like the ending -- it was more Perry Mason than Law & Order -- but I still recommend it. Even if you're not familiar with the characters in the series, this entry stands alone.
3. What will you read next? I don't know.