The Senator: My Ten Years with Ted Kennedy
I picked up The Senator: My Ten Years with Ted Kennedy on the clearance shelf the day after Senator Kennedy died, and now that I’ve finished it, I’m glad I didn’t pay full price. The book is highly readable, and perfect for an airplane, but lacked depth and the writing was weak.
Richard E. Burke, the author (although he has two writers aiding him, which is perhaps why the book feels superficial), worked for Ted Kennedy for 10 years, beginning when Burke was 18 and a college student. He eventually rose to the equivalent of Kennedy’s Chief of Staff. The book chronicles these 10 years, and details Kennedy’s (and Burke’s) drug use, womanizing, and bits and pieces about the running of the Senator’s office and his presidential campaign.
Although it starts off strong and interesting, the book loses steam past the midway point. It’s weak on politics and a bit overflowing with juicy gossip and annoying, bad attempts at foreshadowing. While I’m not necessarily questioning the accuracy of the stories, I didn’t find the author’s explanation of why he was writing the book fulfilling. Ultimately, I was disappointed by both the book itself and the writing/authorship.
The author never claims he’s going to focus on the political events of the time, but without them included, the book seems off-balance and out of context. I mean, okay, you say you did coke with Ted Kennedy and then he fooled around with young blondes in his jacuzzi. Interesting for Andrew Morton, perhaps, but this is a post-Bush era. Cocaine isn’t enough to throw voters or readers anymore, and I for one need a bit more if I’m reading about political figures. If you’re interested in the idea of the book but don’t want to waste your time as I did, read this brief bullet-point synopsis by EW.
This book is far too small in the the sea of political biographies, and I’m tossing it in the box of books to sell.