In this “revelation” of a biography (USA TODAY), a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist examines the life and times of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, arguing she left behind the Kennedy family’s most profound political legacy.
While Joe Kennedy was grooming his sons for the White House and the Senate, his Stanford-educated daughter, Eunice, was hijacking her father’s fortune and her brothers’ political power to engineer one of the great civil rights movements of our time on behalf of millions of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Her compassion was born of rage: at the medical establishment that had no answers for her sister Rosemary, at her revered but dismissive father, whose vision for his family did not extend beyond his sons, and at a government that failed to deliver on America’s promise of equality.
Now, in this “fascinating” (the Today show), “nuanced” (The Boston Globe) biography, “ace reporter and artful storyteller” (Pulitzer Prize–winning author Megan Marshall) Eileen McNamara finally brings Eunice Kennedy Shriver out from her brothers’ shadow. Granted access to never-before-seen private papers, including the scrapbooks Eunice kept as a schoolgirl in prewar London, McNamara paints an extraordinary portrait of a woman both ahead of her time and out of step with it: the visionary founder of Special Olympics, a devout Catholic in a secular age, and an officious, cigar-smoking, indefatigable woman whose impact on American society was longer lasting than that of any of the Kennedy men.
Eileen McNamara is the author of Eunice, the Kennedy who Changed the World, to be released on April 3, 2018. She spent most of her career as a journalist at The Boston Globe, where she won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary and contributed to the newspaper’s award-winning coverage of the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, chronicled in the Oscar-winning movie Spotlight. As a reporter and columnist, she covered everything from the night police beat to the US Congress, focusing attention on such pressing social issues as battered women, infant mortality and juvenile crime. She is now director of the Journalism Program at Brandeis University where she was the recipient of the Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching.