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The posthumous memoir of United States Senator Ted Kennedy.

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True Compass: A Memoir, by Edward M. Kennedy

  • Jan 7, 2010
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This is an extraordinary memoir. It held my interest and was a quick read, which is good for a 500+ page book. There are several reasons why this autobiography is so intriguiing:
  • It gives a well-rounded look at Ted Kennedy's life: his family, his schooling, his years campaigning for his brothers, and his own political service.
  • Kennedy writes candidly about the low-points in his life: his brothers's assassinations, Mary Jo Kopechne, and his divorce.
  • He gives a behind-the-scenes look at the Presidents with whom he served, portraits that often differed greatly from their public personas.
This is not a kiss-and-tell autobiography, but Kennedy is candid about his experiences and what he learned from his mistakes.

True Compass is a must-read for anyone who has, or is planning to have, children. The first part is largely concerned with how the Kennedy children were raised. I've seen many times in the media that Joe Kennedy groomed his sons to go into politics. Ted debunks that notion. His parents, he said, emphasized public service but did not dictate to their children how to accomplish that public service. In fact, Joe was surprised when Jack announced that he planned to run for Congress.

The book is full of anectdotes. For example, to illustrate the respect for Joe by his adult children, Ted told of Jack's visit home while he was president. Jack decided to sleep in on Sunday morning but awoke suddenly when he heard his father's footsteps coming up the stairs. Knowing that he would be questioned about why he wasn't in church, he dressed hurriedly, slipped out the back way, and climbed over the fence into the neighbors's yard. Ted didn't mention if Secret Service agents were right behind him or if he ditched them, too.

True Compass gives us a good look how things get done in government and how politics has changed over the years. Kennedy tells about good and bad experiences he has had working with both Domocrats and Republicans, and he doesn't use his book as a platform to lash out at people he doesn't like.

This is a nonpartison book. It tells the story of an American dynasty and its last patriarch. It is a memoir that should be read, and can be enjoyed, by Democrats and Republicans.
True Compass: A Memoir, by Edward M. Kennedy

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January 11, 2010
Excellent review. Need to add this one to my "to read" list.
January 08, 2010
Good job.....I read the book myself and loved it. It's a non partisan view which does add to its success. I appreciated all the anecdotes concerning his childhood, the presidency and was particularly moved by his thoughts on the Kopechne case. He seemed sincerely remorseful about his actions, stating that he lived with the guilt his entire life. Yes....a definite must read.
January 08, 2010
Great review, David, and I love all the reasons that you stated for recommending this read!  I also like that anecdote that you put in there.  This man has lived one fascinating life in one of the world's most influential families, so I would expect this book to be chalked full of knowlege and wisdom.  By the way, I think you might appreciate @adignacio's review of Ted Kennedy.
More True Compass: A Memoir reviews
review by . March 07, 2010
True Compass
 True Compass is a memoir of the life of Ted Kennedy. I picked it up at my local library because I was interested in learning more about the life of this extraordinary man who spent most of his life in the United States Senate. The memoir begins with Senator Kennedy preparing to address the 2008 Democratic National Convention in order to gain support for the Democratic Presidential nominee, Barack Obama. After this intro, we are treated to a look back at his life. He talks about the tough lessons …
review by . October 12, 2009
How important is Ted Kennedy's Memoire? I believe every man, woman and child over 12 years old in 2009 in all the world needs to read TRUE COMPASS to gain its multi-faceted levels of knowledge about 77 years of an important life.        As he lay dying, Ted Kennedy has a last goal, to finish TRUE COMPASS, his personal story of his life. And, he succeeded. Kennedy speaks about those important experiences that could help us understand who he was as a human being …
Quick Tip by . October 12, 2009
Every man, woman and child over 12 in the world in 2009 needs to read Ted Kennedy's TRUE COMPASS to share his 77 years of public life.
About the reviewer
David Kubicek ()
Ranked #385
I'm a writer living in Lincoln, Nebraska. I've published several short stories, countless articles, two books (3 if you include the Cliffs Notes on Cather's My Antonia. I am currently writing novels. … more
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About this book


 True Compass is the posthumous memoir of United States Senator Ted Kennedy that was released September 14, 2009, by Twelve, a division of the Hachette book group.

Kennedy signed up to do the book in the autumn of 2007. Kennedy received a reported $8 million advance for the work. It was written with the help of Pulitzer Prize-winning collaborator Ron Powers and was based on contemporaneous notes taken by Kennedy throughout his life, hours of recordings for an oral history project, and long interviews. Despite the collaboration, Kennedy literary representative Robert Barnett said that "every word" in the work was Kennedy's. Kennedy's editor, Jonathan Karp, later said that "it was very clear from the outset that he was setting out to write a work of history, a work of personal history, and that he wanted this book very much to be a legacy."

After he received his brain cancer diagnosis, Kennedy halted work on the book for a while, but then returned to it with renewed vigor and as one of his top priorities. Kennedy died the day a final copy of the book was delivered to his home.

The work was originally intended for publication in 2010, then moved up to October 2009, and then finally moved up to September 2009, less than a month after Kennedy's death. A Twelve spokesperson said, "The book was completed earlier this summer. Our original publication date was October 6. We’d always hoped to publish sooner. The production process moved faster ...
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