His details of his personal and professional sins are skimpy, but Kennedy delves into their hierarchy and plaintively asks forgiveness.
Woven through the very readable chapters reflecting on his childhood spent in Bronxville, New York, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Palm Beach, Florida, are anecdotes of his famous brothers and details of his relationship with his parents and sisters. Kennedy recognizes in some ways he lived his life trying to make up for the loss of Joe Jr. Jack, and Bobby from a very early age, and that because of the marked age difference between them, they were as mythical to him as they were to many Americans.
Throughout the memoir, Kennedy reflects on his Irish heritage and the place Ireland held in his and his family’s heart. For most of his early life, he speaks of the Ireland in sentimental terms and of the pragmatic recognition Boston’s Irish community elevated position in any Massachusetts politicians’ base.
“On a clear day, you can see all the way to Ireland,” Teddy remembers his older brother Jack explaining to him while his older brother taught him to sail off the coast of Hyannis Port.
Kennedy explains that it was John Hume who first tutored Kennedy on the realities of Northern Ireland in the early 1970s. After Bloody Sunday in 1972, Kennedy tried to open a new front in solving “The Troubles” by advocating the injection of U.S. influence in an attempt to end centuries of violence.
“Hume’s views of the situation made a very powerful impression on me and influence the work I did on Northern Ireland from then on,” writes Kennedy.
From the Carter and Reagan presidential years, Kennedy reflects on his attempts to keep fellow American politicians somewhat engaged publicly on the North. He concedes that the true priority throughout his many decades in the Senate, and the cause of that created the largest riff between himself and fellow Democrats, was his Quixotic quest for universal health care.
With the his sister Jean installed as U.S. ambassador to Dublin, Kennedy redoubled his efforts to have Washington play a role in securing peace in Ireland.
In December 1993, after visiting his sister at the U.S. embassy in Phoenix Park and meeting with then Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, Kennedy was convinced that Sinn F