Acclaimed biographer Susan Ronald reveals the truth about Joseph P. Kennedy's deeply controversial tenure as Ambassador to Great Britain on the eve of World War II.
On February 18, 1938, Joseph P. Kennedy was sworn in as US Ambassador to the Court of St. James. To say his appointment to the most prestigious and strategic diplomatic post in the world shocked the Establishment was an understatement: known for his profound Irish roots and staunch Catholicism, not to mention his “plain-spoken” opinions and womanizing, he was a curious choice as Europe hurtled toward war.
Initially welcomed by the British, in less than two short years Kennedy was loathed by the White House, the State Department and the British Government. Believing firmly that Fascism was the inevitable wave of the future, he consistently misrepresented official US foreign policy internationally as well as direct instructions from FDR himself. The Americans were the first to disown him and the British and the Nazis used Kennedy to their own ends.
Through meticulous research and many newly available sources, Ronald confirms in impressive detail what has long been believed by many: that Kennedy was a Fascist sympathizer and an anti-Semite whose only loyalty was to his family's advancement. She also reveals the ambitions of the Kennedy dynasty during this period abroad, as they sought to enter the world of high society London and establish themselves as America’s first family. Thorough and utterly readable, The Ambassador explores a darker side of the Kennedy patriarch in an account sure to generate attention and controversy.
Biographer Ronald (Cond Nast) delivers a dense and unflattering portrait of Joseph Kennedy's tenure as the U.S. ambassador to the U.K. in the early years of WWII. Casting Kennedy as an anti-Semite and a dangerously inept diplomat, Ronald details his "burning" political ambitions, his role in wrangling the Catholic vote and "turning the tide of public opinion" in favor of Roosevelt in the 1936 election, and his push to become ambassador ("I will certainly be glad to have him out of Washington," Roosevelt said). Once in London, Kennedy enraged his Washington, D.C., overseers by repeatedly passing off personal opinions as official State Department stances, and angered his hosts by predicting a decisive defeat if Britain went to war with Germany. His resignation in 1940 after a disastrous visit to the U.S. in which he attacked Jewish film producers for making anti-Nazi movies and claimed the situation in England was "hopeless" ended his public career, but Kennedy would eventually see his sons reach the political heights he had not. Ronald overstuffs the narrative with extraneous details (dinner party seating charts, accounts of Rose Kennedy's travels), lessening the impact of her subject's dangerous diplomatic blunders. Readers will wish this sprawling history had a sharper focus.