The First Kennedys: The Humble Roots of an American Dynasty, by Neal Thompson
Based on genealogical breakthroughs and previously unreleased records, this is the first book to explore the inspiring story of the poor Irish refugee couple who escaped famine; created a life together in a city hostile to Irish, immigrants, and Catholics; and launched the Kennedy dynasty in America.
Their Irish ancestry was a hallmark of the Kennedys’ initial political profile, as JFK leveraged his working-class roots to connect with blue-collar voters. Today, we remember this iconic American family as the vanguard of wealth, power, and style rather than as the descendants of poor immigrants.
Here at last, we meet the first American Kennedys, Patrick and Bridget, who arrived as many thousands of others did following the Great Famine - penniless and hungry.
Less than a decade after their marriage in Boston, Patrick’s sudden death left Bridget to raise their children single-handedly. Her rise from housemaid to shop owner in the face of rampant poverty and discrimination kept her family intact, allowing her only son P.J. to become a successful saloon owner and businessman. P.J. went on to become the first American Kennedy elected to public office - the first of many.
Written by the grandson of an Irish immigrant couple and based on first-ever access to P.J. Kennedy’s private papers, The First Kennedys is a story of sacrifice and survival, resistance and reinvention: an American story.
“Thompson’s impressive research and engaging exposition create a unique addition to the Kennedy canon. This is not just the story of the Kennedys; Thompson paints a picture of life for many Irish immigrants. History buffs should pick up this book immediately.” - Booklist
A lively biography of an iconic family before it became famous.” - Kirkus Reviews