Titan biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli's fourth book on the Kennedy dynasty focuses on the lesser-known but still fascinating third generation--the 29 sons and daughters of John, Robert, Edward, Eunice, Pat Kennedy and Jean Kennedy. There have been dozens of Kennedy clan biographies but few have focused on this wing. Taraborrelli (Jackie, Janet & Lee) has become a leading Kennedy historian, conducting more than 400 interviews concerning the family lineage over the last two decades.
The Kennedys have always been a magnet for scandal and tragedy, and the newer generation followed that playbook: sex, drug and alcohol addictions, reckless behavior, marital problems, suicide, hospitalizations, criminal arrests and deaths. The book begins with the 1999 plane crash that killed 38-year-old JFK Jr. and his 33-year-old wife. It then backtracks to the 1994 death of his mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and the battle with his sister, Caroline, over her funeral. There is also plenty of drama from the children of Ted and Joan Kennedy, raised in an alcoholic home. Thankfully, the family also has a sense of humor. At one point, Ethel moans, "I can't handle any more bad news about Kathleen right now. My diet pills are starting to wear off."
The Kennedy Heirs weighs in at 600 pages, but with bite-size chapters, it's a speedy read. Authoritative comments and anecdotes from the family and friends make this an intimate, trustworthy and riveting book. It is an important and worthy follow-up to Taraborrelli's previous Kennedy biographies. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant