Catching the Wind: Book summary and reviews of Catching the Wind by Neal Gabler

Catching the Wind

Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour, 1932-1975

by Neal Gabler

Catching the Wind by Neal Gabler X
Catching the Wind by Neal Gabler
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2020
    928 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

The epic, definitive biography of Ted Kennedy - an immersive journey through the life of a complicated man and a sweeping history of the fall of liberalism and the collapse of political morality.

In the tradition of the works of Robert Caro and Taylor Branch, Catching the Wind is the first volume of Neal Gabler's magisterial two-volume biography of Edward Kennedy. It is at once a human drama, a history of American politics in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, and a study of political morality and the role it played in the tortuous course of liberalism.

Though he is often portrayed as a reckless hedonist who rode his father's fortune and his brothers' coattails to a Senate seat at the age of thirty, the Ted Kennedy in Catching the Wind is one the public seldom saw—a man both racked by and driven by insecurity, a man so doubtful of himself that he sinned in order to be redeemed. The last and by most contemporary accounts the least of the Kennedys, a lightweight. he lived an agonizing childhood, being shuffled from school to school at his mother's whim, suffering numerous humiliations—including self-inflicted ones—and being pressed to rise to his brothers' level. He entered the Senate with his colleagues' lowest expectations, a show horse, not a workhorse, but he used his "ninth-child's talent" of deference to and comity with his Senate elders to become a promising legislator. And with the deaths of his brothers John and Robert, he was compelled to become something more: the custodian of their political mission.

In Catching the Wind, Kennedy, using his late brothers' moral authority, becomes a moving force in the great "liberal hour," which sees the passage of the anti-poverty program and the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. Then, with the election of Richard Nixon, he becomes the leading voice of liberalism itself at a time when its power is waning: a "shadow president," challenging Nixon to keep the American promise to the marginalized, while Nixon lives in terror of a Kennedy restoration. Catching the Wind also shows how Kennedy's moral authority is eroded by the fatal auto accident on Chappaquiddick Island in 1969, dealing a blow not just to Kennedy but to liberalism.

In this sweeping biography, Gabler tells a story that is Shakespearean in its dimensions: the story of a star-crossed figure who rises above his seeming limitations and the tragedy that envelopes him to change the face of America.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A vigorous, highly readable life of Edward Kennedy (1932-2009), taking him from birth through the Watergate era...A book full of triumph and tragedy and an exemplary study in electoral politics." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"There's plenty of drama and pathos...but Gabler pierces the haze of glamour surrounding the Kennedy clan to get at the substance of the politics they personified. This elegantly written and shrewdly insightful account is a must-read for political history buffs." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"While this is primarily a political biography, the book contains plenty of personal material about the Kennedy family to satisfy all levels of readers. An important contribution on this family dynasty." - Library Journal

"One of the truly great biographies of our time, Catching the Wind is a masterwork of historical reconstruction. It turns Ted Kennedy's combination of decency, carelessness, political craftiness, and transcendent idealism into a powerful account of the travails of modern American liberalism. Here is biography written at the highest level." - Sean Wilentz, New York Times bestselling author of Bob Dylan in America and The Rise of American Democracy

"A mammoth undertaking...Neal Gabler has brilliantly documented the rise of the most consequential legislator of our day, one who reached Shakespearean heights and tabloid depths. But the Ted Kennedy story is about much more. It is the tale of modern American liberalism and the shifting winds of political morality...Deeply impressive." - Walter Isaacson, New York Times bestselling author of Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci

"Gabler's engrossing biography of Ted Kennedy—a decade in the making—is remarkably revelatory, one of those rare books that discard the mythical and reveal the human side of an enormously complicated politician. Judicious and thoughtful, Catching the Wind will be essential reading for understanding the fate of political liberalism in American history." - Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Prometheus and The Good Spy

The information about Catching the Wind shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Neal Gabler

Neal Gabler is the author of five books, including three biographies: An Empire of Their Own, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Winchell, which was named Time magazine's nonfiction book of the year and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Walt Disney, which won him his second Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was named biography of the year by USA Today. He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Shorenstein Fellowship from Harvard, and a Woodrow Wilson Public Policy scholarship, and was the chief nonfiction judge of the National Book Awards.

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