432 pages, Grand Central Publishing, ISBN-13: 978-0446603843
Ronald Kessler's The Sins of the Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Dynasty He Founded is a page turner of the first order, not merely for the colorful and bombastic life of Joseph P. Kennedy but, a gut check for those fraught with extreme ambition and a thirst for power. Joseph Kennedy answered the age old question, “How far would you go to achieve ultimate power?” His life's response was, “To the ends of the earth.” That he did and more.
I've often heard stories about the elder Kennedy from people who were around his age and remember him before his bio was spun and the truth of the man hidden. I can see why. He is without a doubt, one of the most despicable, contemptible human beings I've ever read about. The only things sacred to him were power and money. He betrayed his marriage, friendships, lovers, business partners, and never felt an iota of remorse. People who trusted or loved him were quite often and unknowingly stabbed in the back. He used people to climb the ladder and didn't care if they were crushed in the process. When reading bios, I often agree or disagree, like or dislike certain aspects of that persons character. With Mr. Kennedy, I found him to have no redeeming qualities. This book is well worth the time and I commend Mr. Kessler on an in depth job well done.
The Sins of the Father is the potential for greatness and vile we all have within us. The ending words speak volumes to our best and worst: “He did not care about his reputation. What he cared most about was having power. Through the political dynasty that he founded, Joseph P. Kennedy achieved that for generations to come. If he hurt and corrupted others in the process, it was because no one had the courage to challenge him. For that, they only have themselves to blame” (p. 428).