Joseph P. Kennedy

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Joseph P. Kennedy is known as the father of America’s royal family. The recent publication of his collected letters reveals the man with owlish glasses was as extraordinary as his famous children. He was America’s youngest bank president, ran a shipyard, became a Hollywood film producer and political insider. After he made his fortune on Wall Street, he went after prestige and got himself appointed Ambassador to Great Britain under FDR. He was famous for refusing to wear knee breeches at court, flattering the queen on her looks, and descending on London society with his glamorous brood of Irish Catholic children.

But on the eve of World War II, he let his isolationist views be known and caused a furor when he told a reporter, “Democracy is finished in England. It may be here.” Knowing his political career was over, he turned his efforts full time to dynasty building and getting his son elected 35th President of the United States.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Amanda Smith, editor of “Hostage to Fortune: The Letters of Joseph P. Kennedy.” and Nigel Hamilton, author of “JFK, Reckless Youth.”