Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

"What a sad story! Rosemary Kennedy’s family loved her and protected her, but the time into which she was born was certainly no help; the family felt the only choice was to hide her disabilities and put on a brave face. Even the family money could only do so much. And the surgery her father chose for her was truly tragic. I think he had the best of intentions, but was seriously misled, and the results were devastating. She was, as her mother referred to it, the first Kennedy tragedy." --Anne

— From Anne's Staff Recommendations


They were the most prominent American family of the twentieth century. The daughter they secreted away made all the difference.

Joe and Rose Kennedy's strikingly beautiful daughter Rosemary attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the Queen of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters. And yet, Rosemary was intellectually disabled -- a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family. Major new sources -- Rose Kennedy's diaries and correspondence, school and doctors' letters, and exclusive family interviews -- bring Rosemary alive as a girl adored but left far behind by her competitive siblings. Kate Larson reveals both the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave to Rosemary and then -- as the family's standing reached an apex -- the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly intractable in her early twenties. Finally, Larson illuminates Joe's decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age twenty-three, and the family's complicity in keeping the secret. Rosemary delivers a profoundly moving coda: JFK visited Rosemary for the first time while campaigning in the Midwest; she had been living isolated in a Wisconsin institution for nearly twenty years. Only then did the siblings understand what had happened to Rosemary and bring her home for loving family visits. It was a reckoning that inspired them to direct attention to the plight of the disabled, transforming the lives of millions.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780547250250
ISBN-10: 0547250258
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date: October 6th, 2015
Pages: 320
Language: English