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tv   Susan Ronald The Ambassador  CSPAN  November 23, 2021 12:35am-1:38am EST

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television for serious readers. >> is my great joy and privilege to introduce all of you to our >> it is my great joy and privilege to introduce you. our speaker today who lives in england she has lived for a number of years. she is the biographer, historian, and the author of several books in addition to the condé nast
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book. she is a meticulous researcher and an incredible number of resources
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people agreed the only one that's a good guy and will move on from not really quick joe kennedy was the founder of the canadian political dynasty, he had nine children they were all heavily competitive with one another and they were often described as a clean and were a tribe and they actually work joe junior the oldest died unfortunately during the war but he seemed to be the brother who they love but feared the most he was quite a bully actually in resembled his father the most as well.
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the actual founder of the american plan was patrick joseph kennedy who was joe's father of first-generation american and very active in east boston which is a poor immigrant area primarily irish immigrants and he was the one that got the kennedy side of the family involved in politics he was the head of ward to and if you ever rode edwin o'connor's book the last hurrah that will give you an idea of the type of shenanigans that they got up to he became quite wealthy out of being a local ward politician which was i scratch your back you scratch mine type of existence but the man who is in charge of boston democratic politics was john fitzgerald known as honey fitz and use rose kennedy's father he looked down
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on patrick kennedy he was twice mayor of boston in the state senator work to the house of representatives, he didn't like the fact that kennedy was quoting his college-educated doctor but only agreed to allow her to marry joe because he was going to become the youngest bank president to become the youngest being present in america. nevermind that she sold most of the shares. but someone said they don't really like the tree. that they were t married october 1914. one of the things honey did as well is to make joe stay on the straight and narrow. but he gave joe his own
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private secretary the man on the right with ted kennedy and was a permanent fixture in the surrogate parent and stayed with joe until he actually died. 's pictures are taken in 1938 wwith his marrying what one —- with his wife mary next to him. and joe by 1917 had two sons by rose. everybody referred to jfk as jack. but in 1917 the war came to america. world war i. it is called the great war because you cannot number them until there is a second one. so he had a reserved occupation meaning he would
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not be drafted. he already received the draft notice but honey fits arrange for him to become a manager at the shipyard in boston. but joe is not properly briefed and that people were drafted in management and aware of all the workmen were promised to raise. the assistant secretary of the navy to condone roosevelt was angry because joe closed down one of the most important shipyards in the eastern seaboard and he who owned the shipyard had to step in personally to get the men back to work and joe was put into a lesser function until the war was over. after the war he went to work for the stockbrokers in boston
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and liked the idea of making money. so after a couple years there, he went to wall street. by 1925 he made his first millions set up million dollars trust fund. and then set about making his second fortune because he heard they were going to california and thought this is the thing for me i know what i will do. but instead of actually making his money but then as a department store in boston with afi small distribution company calling the booking offices of america.
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and joe began as a master show man of the world. and usually quite profitable but he made his money and merging and then later other merges so he had the very first large studio. the other thing he did in hollywood is manage the biggest star gloria swanson and they also became lovers. unfortunately within two years he tired of his job. that's why he has such a busy career but he made two films toward the end of 1931 called queen kelly which was so bad it was released.
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and when gloria asked him of the bookkeeping area it is a new cadillac and then he turned to her and turned right to readhe and literally walked out of his life and she never spoke to him again. she talks about it. on the dick cavett show. but what was common when the wall street traders were given a lot of time off to sell apples on the streets to make ends meet. joe wasn't paying attention to the poor or the plight of america. he decided he wanted to make his third fortune. so what better way then to
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become president elliott roosevelt who oversaw franklin and in the 1932 campaign elliott was in charge of trying to run his father's campaign in massachusetts will also setting up an insurance business. so what happens then is before prohibition is rescinded, joe takes elliott to europe and there are lots of other people who are trying to bargain for the rights to import whiskey into america that with the man that everybody think is the future president son but there was absolutely no contest. joe one out before that was rescinded shortly after the election joe had already bagged the next fortune.
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what he really wanted he didn't have to be involved in the day today of the importing of liquor but wanted to become secretary of treasury and he earned money from contributions from all kinds of people from the 32 campaign. but of course roosevelt said joe kennedy would run the treasury the way he wants to and wouldn't have the benefit notice. so joe had to settle first to become chairman off the sec and do a reasonable job all of the documentation however it was written by others and then the only one that actually ended was a man named james landis
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one of kennedy's unpublished memoirs. he finally made the cover of time magazine which means that is great successnd but now he had been in the job 1933 through 1935 and it's time to retire. but then says do me a favor. could you find out when will they pay theld war debts because it would really help us putting depression into recovery. and then refuses to meet him. he has contacts with the vatican and then goes to paris and then the american ambassador in paris and doesn't want joe.
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so then in london he meets at the american ambassador. and introduces him to the right people including nevillet chamberlain he also introduces him to other people. and joe gets the idea in 1935 i think i would like to be ambassador to britain and i think i could help my children get some international experience. but now they will be the 36 election to reelect roosevelt. and then he writes a p.m. flip over the winter call time for roosevelt which is aimed primarily because the one
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thing that roosevelt had trouble with in america they hated him and thought he had communistic tendencies. and any otheren person that kennedy gets involved is the bishop but it is pivotal because he was effectively the translator for the pope that kennedy is just to the left so he wants to come to america but he wants to meet with the president because he wants to build the relationship with catholic wrong. it is a dream of his. and essentially what happens
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is spellman says that until such time that he is reelected and there was a lot between joe and all the others but fortunately pacelli went to see him the day after the election and this picture is at hyde park. but he becomes quite chummy and then is basically the architect but he's also the architect of the vatican. but the thing that he didn't understand about the position instance 1929 the vatican had agreed to stay out of politics. period. and then created the vatican city and as they know what as the vatican and those with the
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fascist countries including germany so to protect the catholics withinro the countries but also have more money for the catholic church. that joe did not understand this. 1926 election there was a time in america was all blue almost. but joe fails to be appointed as ambassador. and instead given the lowly position of the chairman of the federal maritime commission. why? those were gouging the government and were fraudulent and has 73 days to sort them out. and he worked very hard to do it. and said if i don't get
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appreciateit that then with william randolph first newspapers were for sale at 50 cents on the dollar. joe bought them ten cents on the dollar. that story unfortunately made that cut in my book but it is a very interesting story. and then at the end of 1937 but he said that's what he wanted tots do and that kennedy's t were no longer also he wanted to be as great as the name adams in boston. his son jack junior would be graduating from harvard june 1938.
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and he made spain his special area of interest. why? because most importantly it was because that was a war where the church had taken the side of the rebels. as opposed to the government side or the loyalist side which is socialist and communist. one thing i have to say is that joe and joe junior has a morbid fear of communism. that he was two years younger but he was a very sickly child only in 1947 when the family discovered he suffered from addison's disease. but at that time nobody had any idea what was wrong with him. in his own words a very interesting case.
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he goes to europe that summer with his good friend and that's how to be available jfk library online and it really does make very interesting reading because you have joe junior who was writing to his father and expounding everything that he says that my father says and believes. and then he is thinking things through to understand what is happening with communism and fascism and how that affects america. he was definitely a very clearheaded internationalist thinker. so to be buddies with a lot of the press a lot of the time. and now coming back to the johns hopkins hospital for
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exploratory surgery nobody can figure out what is wrong with him. he is very ill and here's he will retire. so joe asks his good friend who is the washington bureau chief of "the new york times" to help him get the word out that he is the best man for this job. but being in wanted to go to ibm for the job instead. but in the memoir that he never received any financial benefit from joe kennedy but he was at $25000 per year and i also need to say i don't think "the new york times" was aware of that relationship. these are the three men that make the name of kennedy great. joe junior had a event you
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russia, europe, and jack has been to europe and also a very dear friend of the boys to put them into politics. so joe finally gets nominated thinking he should become thee ambassador and, sorry i apologize i missed a spot. then sworn in february 1938. the news leaked took place december 9, 1937. why was there a delay? i asked about in the book. but it's still something of a mystery. there is a number of different reasons why it could happen but you have to read the book to understand. so he comes to london march 1st and this is a picture of joen
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march 8, 1938 in front of the palace of st. james as he gets his credentials to king george the sixth. second from the left is an american. colonel lee who hid - - he did not get along with joe. he was the military attaché and that already by this time he's not already in town one week that he was struck on his own ferocity. that's the most true statement anybody ever said about joe he was constantly shooting his mouth off without realizing messages got back to people. by the time you are appointed ambassador roosevelt new all the terrible things he had said about him but he sent him out because he was less of a danger to him overseas than in washington. because joe was an isolationist and that america
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should had any obligation other than to earn money. but randall churchill and winston churchill took joe out for lunch and he was viewing how britain didn't know what it was doing it should not be hurtling itself. and as a journalist and stood up and turned purple and lectured him for j ten minutes and walked out. and with those from st. james palace to say he only stood out that there is a big thing in american press about him wearing short but he was so
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bowlegged ill he wouldow be a laughing stock. so now joe is the ambassador and given his credentials. that king is affable. he has a duty to court joe as well as joe going around and he reports back and all those are saying about the european situation. those as the secretary of state the longest-serving secretary of state in american history and the assistant secretary under wells. and within days of this, literally on the 15th of march he does the thing and in a telephone call says i am european expert.
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shut up. you don't know what iss going on. and therefore within 15 days of his arrival in england he had the state department angry. now why did he think that? his good friend who is a committed fascist was the one advising him. joe junior was advising him but also listening to this as a matter of fact kennedy hired his son on t a one dollar per year salary against the wishes of the president and the state department. the reason why they didn't want him to hire him was because he was utterly inexperienced. >> now neville chamberlain who was prime minister thought he had the answer to everything. appeasement was a wonder. singing praises back to the state department and to the
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white house getting him even angrier. he said that the president enjoyed and liked talking to and the replacement secretary of state or foreign minister. but he was a bit too protestant for his liking and extremely religious and highly anglican. but halifax, the first time you met he was not surprised he was swearing like a trooper and actingct terribly. so now marching on march 11 he was in london and was the ambassador but now foreigno minister to germany.
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and then i laugh because you take one look at the sky and think oh my goodness. because then in poland in the 1920s and then in the early 1930s moved to tokyo and was responsible for bringing japan closer to the axis powers. now he is in england and under strict orders to befriend kennedy and already by june they have two separate meetings in which kennedy is loose lips and he is actually betraying american foreign policy. the day after this meeting, kennedy writes in his diary i'm very disappointed lord halifax cannot come with me to oxford it seems like
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he's tied up and more international business. so with the annexation of austria into germany. joe thinks that chamberlain has hitler under control. that he could solve all the problems. but then to handle diplomacy and politics and as a say in the book the sad thing is he didn't have a diplomatic tone in his body. so winston churchill is against him but most of it is still following our dear friend mr. chamberlin and in april 1938 and is invited to windsor castle and is getting drunk on british society and then to see how happy to be in the social register.
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and has made it impossible to make american and debutantes to be to england to be presented in court with that establish relationship with britain and then to become friendly and rose presents are two other starters and in may 1938. and it is interesting because when she talks about this she doesn't talk about how the girls debit only how she did. sorry. i skipped a slide. so one of the things that joe did in april to see if he could introduce his daughter
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to some nice english people her own age and take a party which is now a hotel in berkshire. and then her best friend in england and also two weeks later harding ten. now billy was the heir to the duke of devon shire and love at first i in a tremendous love affair. meanwhile halifax is very worried so he and churchill that same spring start to work together and other economic means of trying to outwit germany. kennedy is completely oblivious, he gives boys international experience and he also is putting himself in position maybe going for
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the post- presidency maybe even the presidency. and this lady who should be very well known to all of you is clear abuse loose may 1938 she and henry came to the embassy in london and shortly afterwards she began an affair with joe. interestingly as a staunch republican, she became one of his greatestiv advisors. she tells joe you can't keep staying in london. what you've got to do is get yourself some pressing go back home to some great press asap. so people don't forget what you look like. he took her at her word. so that the next time he would go home was in june for joe junior's graduation from harvard and was very happy to give him good press which made roosevelt very angry. he refused to see him.
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he is so angry that he starts to go to the graduation but harvard university will refuse to give him an honorary doctorate. instead they choose 14 others including walt disney. he comes backne to europe. one of the reasons he was chosen he was a good businessman and a major trade agreement to be negotiated the at they felt that he could negotiate this. by the end of june spending time to arrange for the family instead. he is lying back to the state department but everybody is disappearing in july and the state department already knew that he had ended but everybody else in britain was staying on. because there is something very wrong in europe. they thought heather wasas going
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to move again instead the reason why is to prevent billy to ask her to marry him. it would be the 21st birthday and joe feared he would ask and she would accept. the last thing he wanted is the catholic daughter to marry a protestant especially as peter grace was madly in love with her as well. that she really loved billy. his picture of the whole family and their little cabana at the beach. and joe again t come i have him here with his mouth open because while he was there he was shooting his mouth off and how but the next door
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neighbors heard about it and actually edward let the royal family know back in england there is a problem with joe. meanwhile he needs another neighbor marlene dietrich and they began an affair. so something that is absolutely riveting is the biography of her mother and her remarks of the kennedy children are absolutely delicious. so handling the affair he is still there when the check crisis started. and comes back very the other ambassadors to britain but
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then discovered this is something quite important i better get back to london and tell chamberlin what to do. he portrays chamberlain to the state department as the only man who can save the world from disaster. he is the only man that can bring peace.ce and i'm just going through something that the state department and the president gets angrier and angrier. because of the overtures for peace in january 1938. so they were dealing with a very difficult man who is probably anti-american. so then he comes back waving his piece of paper and halifax heart is broken andas has shivers what chamberlain says because he knows appeasement is dead. but then you must rearm
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because of course it doesn't. this is our local newspaper which actually says it all that hitler is running rip shot over everybody. two months after but also for killing jews. so maybe this may be of interest to me if they want to run for office and for me to get the jewish vote. said he puts together the kennedy plan. this is just of the one of the synagogues that were destroyed. so he goes back to america for aas prolonged holiday between 38 and 39 this has been a thing of his he constantly goes back for two months at christmas and meanwhile the exodus of
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jews from german occupied territories begins in that rates thean kennedy plan that is stolen from other work written by other people who were working out ofhe the london embassy. and then comes back in the middle of february and immediately asks if he can be the envoy to rome because his good friend has now become pope pius 12 and said sure you can come except he comes with all of his children the nannies and the butler and a few other people. and i write about exactly what has happened that joe doesn't understand that it is quite amazing but then she takes all
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of the other seats. so i will plug my book and say you have to read it. he is in rome and then hitler decides to take the rest of czechoslovakia. and he marches in. and meanwhile rose goes back to london and is again presented in courth this time so that she can come out and grand style and that the biggest party is pictured below at the world heritage site. the following month the king and queen meets at hyde park. joe tries to claim that he is the one that had organized this. but it had been in the offing
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since 1936 when george the sixth became king with a special envoy to the coronation asking him to please come to an american on —- come to make america. but then he warns the king if you want to know about american foreign policy he should not be asking joe kennedy. he is so desperate he believes there is a war but has to tell people. just like hitler so effectively what happens is he asks charles to write a big report how futile it will be to gof to war against germany. this circulated throughout the american embassies and the state department and of course eit gives the president a up for what they will be doing if war comes back to america.
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certainly. he became the spokesperson for the america first committee and the slogan was make america great again. and as you can see they were not on good terms. so august 1939 that what churchill had feared the most happens that but then within days actually was seven days, britain is forced to declare war on germany when germany invades poland. joe is now completely sidetracked by the foreign office and also the americans state department. working together to the
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british ambassador in america or through other people. roosevelt is now in directly with churchill and everything he hears from kennedy is very different from everything he's hearing from churchill. so joe decides late november i am going away. i9 will not come back. i have stomach ulcers. nobody ever knows what is happening with his gastrointestinal system. but the only medical document ever of any of the kennedys on file at the kennedy library. he has the doctor right to say the gastrointestinal tract need to be stay in palm beach. chamberlain asked him to come back in march and only when he learns in march 1940 the summer wells will be going around europe and he leaves palm beach and comes back. here's a picture of joe
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chaperoning. so the teams diaries states that he would not let him eat. >> as you know along period between april 1940 were hinothing was happening, germany invaded norway april 1940. the british were soundly defeated. and this was really the end of the phony war. within three weeks, churchill is asked to form a government but even chamberlain had one devoted in parliament by such a slim margin. everybody knew that it would possibly perish because i have
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but then hee was only man who can take the country. and i should say sorry, joe is also the only man who did not congratulate him to become prime minister. they were for documents i came across and then he just noted he made a telephone call to congratulate churchill. so within six months of churchill becoming a prime minister word wasr moved tof become the british ambassador of the role of lindsay he was ambassador. not so much because they did not get on that because he felt that he would be an honest broker for him in america. and he was. and he had befriended in england and when he came to america kick help himd through his problems.
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and she was absolutely wonderful to him and helped kick so she could marry billy in 1943. but in the summer of 1940 the blitz begins. people were taking shelter where they could. joe kennedy was told you cannot come back to america. you have to stay in england and you have to help as much as you can. but he never went to see the bombed out areas. that is the closest joe kennedy came to a bomb and told everybody that he was found out of the american ambassador's residence but on the internet you can see where they actually fell and there are absolutely no bombs. so he became known as jittery
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joe. he left london and did not inquire after the king and queen. and then very very very scared man. but the one man who was not scared was jack. and as he is moving england october 1940. recently t had tea with a king and queen of england and taking how wrong he is about britain and the need to fight and i did put that in the book. his good friend part of the cabinet dies and then he reads these constant things from
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churchill and the inspiring words and hates than ever more and to come back to the states in november under clare booth luce guidance it will declare for wilkie. and he blackmails russo into coming back and that is something that it is a fascinating portrait of what happens that doesn't realize they are their own counsel. he lobbies against britain and talks against britain. and is hated by the british as the state department. but nobody knows what has been going on. and when japan bombs pearl harbor.
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but it would be nice to he would hear back from him. but the ambassadorship to great britain when there was still a british empire which made britain very important, was the highest office he would ever achieve until his dying day he wanted to be called mr. ambassador. and then as we all know the experience but there is another experience which is the first diplomatic experience. and then september 4th 1938 that jack not his father who handled that with the survivors who is brilliant and joe junior apparently was a
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mediocre pilot and then to be volunteered and then to be a greater hero and then was decorated for that incident to h save his cruise life. and that's why he volunteered becauset' of the competition between them. so the failure of the ambassador but this man's greatest legacy was his children who absolutely adored him. he did everything for them and according to jack, when he was president, joe kennedy made possible. thank you. >> thank you.
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that was fascinating. >> i'm trying to get back on it on people to ask questions and don't want to resume share. >> we do have some questions in the chat. how does joe maintain his reputation today in the united states and why is this information with the time with the ambassador not more
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well-known? >> that's the main question i ask myself when i was reading all of thehe kennedy biographies. why hasn'tio anybody written about his time in england? i just couldn't get it. and those that work with in the gathering storm which is a nice book about the kennedy family and britain at the time but not about the political and diplomatic dilemma going on. to write about people that are reasonably well known if i can. because i said iwo would take the slice of two years and concentrate on that. nobody else has written about it k and that is the other reason nobody knows because of all of the biographies nobody was interested enough to write
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about it. also perhaps who did not come to united states to do research. and with that big biography on kennedy and then with the research so that means it didn't go to the churchill archive personally so kennedy finally called today. and did not see the note. think goodness we don't have to hear kennedy's papers anymore in the house of commons. these are all things i believe in doing research. but nobody had been to the
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royal archive before me and it is a big thing to get into the royal archive. anybody who is accredited and a publisher can do it. and that is why the book is important. >> of course. another question is about the relationship to jack and how the policies and approaches were so different. >> it's easier to answer the second than the first. when joe junior died he was hearing his brother was dead and apparently said now it's
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down to me because jack wanted to be a writer. he started off as a journalist. he knew he had no choice. had to take others place. that no fee wouldn't have had a choice if joe junior had not died because i think it's senior was hell-bent on creating a dynasty, in his mind better than the adams family. that is the main impetus for jack going into politics. and how joe helped, he was always his father son. they thought that was normal because that is the way they grew up. also doesn't think it's absent that's normal to be asked from
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the home 300 days per year but that is how she would cope with joe being a serial womanizer. very difficult situation. but because there were so many children they got strength through each other. and that was part of the upbringing. he was always called dad by the boys and daddy by the girls rose was always called mother by all of them and was a distant figure. and claimed because she had too many children but that was way of looking at it. he adored his father and his son. that jack strength was never
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ever contradicting his father directly. he never said i thank you have to do this. he spends a very diplomatic way speaking to him and joe respected his different things that the main thing that joe did was finance the 60 campaign. and there is a book coming out in january about the 1960 campaign. and he helped by staying in the background because it was already known he was b a fascist sympathizer and certainly would not have one any of it. i should say that russo also called him the improviser. one of his gifts.
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>> so did he have irish sympathies? >> i believe he did that he had done very well. one of the ambassadors he looked up to very early on was the irish ambassador and he imaginedri to get an honorary doctorate at trinity college in dublin. so he was very pro- ireland and pro- irish roots but did not speak out as an ambassador to be pro- ireland. this was a really difficult time for the british in terms of accepting the irish free state and northern ireland so
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i do think he understood the sensibilities but most of the british sailors the things that when they were analyzed they didn't feel he was in time british as much as pro- irish. which is interesting considering all the terrible things. >> are there anything to the stories he was a bootlegger? certainly. he had delivered before before but surely did not include the president son? i have heard from friends in boston it is definitely what has happened. and what i read and then to be
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connected to al capone prove it. nobody haso proven it but then capone couldn't prove so they had to get him on tax fine. these are a couple of very smart cookies. i cannot believe that joe was not involved but i have no proof that he was there is a lot of hearsay. >> tell us what you are currently reading and books you might recommend. >> i just finished a few days ago. but her use of language is so formidable and before that i read a couple of books a week and believe it or not i was reading the out of our graffiti and the reason for that is peter's father appears to my next book it was
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absolutely amazing and a funny book and i thought that was wonderful. and as a big pbs watcher the book before that was called silk house. by anthony horowitz who is the creator of foils war that is on pbs. it is called the magpie murders and then i'm also reading at the same time of course because you must read two books for pleasure, the dictators muse.
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makes me laugh because as lenny was close friends and those are not true. and those things make me laugh but it is very well written. >> we are so grateful to you for all you have done today it is fascinating and people are looking forward to reading your book. also think the friends of ferguson where they can purchase your book and thank you to everyone who attended today. this is recorded and is available on the future channel.
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september 30th we will have been in person theories. >> great things to all of you and have a great day. thank you again. >> take care.
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