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Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Senator by Richard E Burke

The Senator: My Ten Years with Ted Kennedy The Senator: My Ten Years with Ted Kennedy by Richard E. Burke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For 10 years Richard E Burke served as an aide to Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Burke's duties included literally running the Senator's life for him both professionally and personally. That makes this book a highly subjective biography of Kennedy since Burke reports that among other things he and The Senator shared were drug use and some of the same women. Given the level of drug use to which both men subjected themselves, there is often good reason to question the accuracy of what Burke reports. The chapter on the Kennedy visit to Russia in 1978 is a good example of this; it reads more like an episode from Get Smart than it does like a Senator's state visit to a foreign country. However, much of what Burke writes about is a matter of public record; all he's done is flesh out more details.

Burke reports that one of Kennedy's female acquaintances defines the Senator as a pig. After applying the standards for defining a pig (if it looks like a pig, sounds like a pig, and exhibits frequent piggish behavior, you've got yourself a pig), there is no reason to find fault with this evaluation of Kennedy's behavior with this particular acquaintance. Given the fact that his behavior with other women was similar to this one experience, it is only logical to accept this definition of his private behavior as accurate.

Given the recent death of Ted Kennedy, there is so much material being aired in the media to suggest he was some larger than life character who exhibited nothing but bravery, intelligence, and respect for his country, his family, and his constituents. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The Senator, My Ten Years With Ted Kennedy is one place to get a more realistic picture of this controversial figure in American history.

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