I have finally figured out who Ted Kennedy was as a politician thanks, in large part, to the comprehensive analysis of the other Hersh in this book. As a typical kid brother and baby in the family, Teddy always struggled to find his true identity as a Kennedy. Though doted on by parents and older siblings in the family of families, the Kennedys, he was never really taken seriously as its likely go-to standard bearer. When that responsibility befell in the late sixties, Edward Kennedy did not respond well for obvious reasons: too much was expected of him given the fact that he grew up the spoiled child with little understanding about the rough-and-tumble world of federal politics that consumed the rest of the families. When he finally ran for and filled JFKs senatorial seat in Massachusetts in 1962, his victory was largely seen as a result of his brother’s coattails. Hersh spends a lot of time showing how the younger Kennedy took significant time to find himself notwithstanding numerous stumbles and tragedies that reflected bad judgment and misfortune. What I liked about this book is that Hersh, a personal friend and trusted biographer, does not demur from telling the story as to Kennedy’s many shortcomings: infidelity, alcoholism and insensitivity. It is on this disclosure that the author makes a case for showing us how the man was able to rebuild himself into a person who truly cared for others. This is a story of a Kennedy who was able to break free from the fictional charisma of that family name that suffocated so many before him. The key was partly letting himself become so publicly humiliated that few in the Democratic Party, with the exception of some liberal cronies, took him seriously anymore; once that was accomplished, through incidents like Chappaquiddick, his loss of the whip position, and his abysmal run for president in 1980, he was left alone to refocus as a legislator for the people. Social reform such as healthcare, public education and labor law became his new passion and, as Hersh mentions on numerous occasions, he became very adept at forming bipartisan alliances to steer legislation through to completion. The narrative offered here is both credible and engaging, sufficient to allow a conservative like me to see Kennedy as a politician with integrity in his later life. Whatever one can say about the dynastic Kennedys and their many handlers, this Kennedy turned out to be different in a more positively instructive way. First, Ted Kennedy’s life stresses the importance of restarting one’s life rather than resorting to self-pity. Two, failure can become a critical ingredient in the rebuilding process if one allows it to refocus one’s attention on serving the needs of others. While the book, on the whole, was a very compelling story, its prose at times can be rather dense and precious, which causes me to wonder why such a renowned journalist couldn’t have used more direct language.