The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

Book - 2015
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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.
Publisher: Boston :, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,, 2015.
ISBN: 9780547250250
Branch Call Number: BIO KENNEDY
Characteristics: 302 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Jul 25, 2017

I didn't know the TRUE story of Rosemary Kennedy until I read this book. It's too bad more of her family weren't still alive to hear about how her mental condition could have been PREVENTED. Instead she was deprived of oxygen in the birth canal and her condition was the result. Made me MAD.

May 05, 2017

This book is exactly what I expected about the Kennedy "royalty' and how they treated Rosemary. I was impressed with the fact the book was honestly written. The best part of the book for me was when Rosemary slapped her mother.

Apr 24, 2017

Fantastic book for book group discussions. Rosemary details the young life of Rosemary Kennedy along with life after her operation. This book provides more insight into the workings of the Kennedy family.

Oct 16, 2016

After reading Koehler's book on Rosemary, I found this biography much more complete and comprehensive. It delves into a time when mental health issues were seriously frowned upon and explains, while not condoning, Joseph Kennedy's ultimate decision to have his eldest daughter lobotomized to control her behavior. There follows a sad story of a young woman kept from her family for over 20 years, not to mention the severe damage to her brain. So much has been written about the Kennedys and this story needed to be told.

This is the sad story of the true life of Rosemary Kennedy, third child of Joe and Rose Kennedy. She was born during the 1918 flu epidemic, the doctor was delayed and the nurse made the decision to force the baby to stay in the birth canal for two hours until his arrival (nurses were discourage from delivering a baby because then the doctor didn't get his fee). This loss of oxygen caused developmental disabilities that her family hid from the public until she was an adult and worsened. Afraid of a scandal that would ruin the family's political ambitions, Joe decided she should have a prefrontal lobotomy, a risky experimental procedure that left her permanently disabled and unable to care for herself. She spent the remainder of her life hidden away in a facility. Her parents never tried to see her again. Her sister Eunice later took up her cause and got involved with the disabled. Recommended by Linda

Jun 18, 2016

I thought the author did a great job of telling Rosemary's story. I knew the family had a daughter with developmental difficulties, but was horrified to learn so many details. I would highly recommend this book.

Mar 31, 2016

This book was good in that there was societal background included but there seemed to be more about the other children than about her. I was a little disappointed.

Feb 29, 2016

I found this a very interesting read. A peak into the ever-private world of the Kennedys in regard to their oldest daughter/sibling.
Well written, fascinating study of how disability (and especially intellectual disabilities) are addressed, beginning back starting in the early 1930s. A sad and frustrating existence for most of her earlier life, Rosemary was definitely a survivor. I recommend.

athompson10 Feb 16, 2016

The author does her best to make a whole book out of what is, at best, a life that was documented for well less than half of its years. Rosemary's tragedy is both sad and entirely preventable. Her life up until the lobotomy is fascinating and horrifying at the same time, from her forced delayed birth, constant moves from school to school at the whims of her parents when social climbing and political aspirations control their lives, and their fears of her sexual maturation. After the disabling lobotomy Rosemary virtually disappears from Kennedy family letters, and the author struggles to continue the story when the main actor has left the stage. The author decides to focus on Eunice and the long list of of charities and projects she created or worked with to bring awareness and funding to mental retardation. While an admirable undertaking, Eunice's work makes for a stunted and feeble ending to what had been a very interesting and personal story about her sister.

Feb 14, 2016

I did not know the story of Rosemary Kennedy until I cracked this book. What an interesting and tragic piece of Kennedy history. Much of the story must be inference and conjecture, and there are undoubtedly details that no one will ever know of Rosemary's life and development.

And then the lobotomy. It is criminal to think how long doctors (and others) were scrambling brains and hoping for the best. And castrating, and infecting and all of those other human experiments that are part of medical history.

Good book, amazing story.

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