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The posthumous memoir of United States Senator Ted Kennedy.

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True Compass

  • Mar 7, 2010
 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 he learned from his father, how inspired he was by his brothers and their passion for public service, how he felt he had to play "catch up" at times with Jack and Bobby, and how he had to emerge as a patriarch for his family and the Kennedy clan as a whole. There are also many descriptions of his most influential works in the senate, most notably, fighting to get affordable health care for all Americans. He had been through a personal tragedy when his son had cancer in his leg. He spoke to others who had to give up everything they had in order to pay for proper treatment. It affected him for the rest of his life and this memoir does a great job of showing how much health care meant to him and what lengths he was willing to go to in order to fight for it. One particularly memorable moment in the book is when Ted Kennedy makes the "Robert Bork's America" speech. Bork had been nominated to the Supreme Court in 1987, but Kennedy, along with other senators, felt his view of a segregated, elitist society was completely unacceptable. That speech was very moving and it highlighted the great resolve and determination of the late senator. Ted Kennedy also brings up the Chappaquiddick incident here. He doesn't bring up many new details about what happened that night, but he acknowledges that its something he lived with all of his life and that he is pained for what he put the victim's family through. Many other incidents in his nearly 50 year career with the senate are covered in detail. His family and their hardships over the years are also thoroughly discussed as well.

Overall, I thought this was a terrific read. We always hear so much about Jack and Bobby, so I was extremely interested to hear about this family from the viewpoint of the one family member who had lived a full life and had to endure so much, both positive and negative. There were many editors and contributors to this memoir and I had trouble trying to figure out where Kennedy's words end and where the editor's begin. That's the only slight downside I saw in the book. But that's understandable given Kennedy's condition at the time this memoir was being put together. Even with this, I felt that Ted Kennedy's spirit was there in the book. I got the feeling this is how he would want not just his life to be remembered, but also the lives of his entire family and their passion to serve in the best interests of the people. There are also great photos of Ted and his family over the years in the memoir that I loved as well. It's a wonderful read that will inspire anyone to never lose hope even in the bleakest of circumstances. Definitely check this one out if you have the chance.
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March 11, 2010
Great book review, Pard! Are you going to join Goodreads with the rest of us library people? There are a ton of your coworkers on the site, maybe even more than I have on my buddy list. This review showed that you have a lot to add to their book reviews there too! You can just copy the same review over!
More True Compass: A Memoir reviews
review by . January 07, 2010
True Compass: A Memoir, by Edward M. Kennedy
  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 …
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.
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I'm a 29 year oldwhoenjoys reviewing certainreality tv shows and scifi programming. I also post reviews on other topics every now and then as well. I enjoy being here on Lunch and interacting with … more
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 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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