The Kennedys Amidst the Gathering Storm

The Kennedys Amidst the Gathering Storm

A Thousand Days in London, 1938-1940

By Will Swift

Smithsonian, Hardcover, 9780061173561, 400pp.

Publication Date: May 1, 2008


In The Kennedys Amidst the Gathering Storm, Will Swift presents a fresh, empathetic interpre­tation of the ambassadorship of Joseph Kennedy and explores the intricate, often shifting relation­ships among Kennedy, Chamberlain, Churchill, and, of course, Roosevelt.

Arriving in London in early 1938, the Irish-Catholic Kennedys were welcomed by politicians, aristocrats, and intellectuals, all eager to court America. They finally appeared to have overcome their lifelong status as outsiders. From 1938 to 1940, the Kennedys crystallized their identity as protagonists on the world stage, making public the competitive and clannish intrafamily dynamics that would fuel their mythic rise to power. They all learned from their father's successes—and failures. The older children—Joe Jr., Jack, and Kathleen—took an active part in England's glittering, "last fling before the bombs fall" society, but all nine children charmed, their every move chronicled by the British and American media. John F. Kennedy's path to the White House began in London. As his father's political fortunes dimmed, Jack published a best-selling book and his star rose.

Drawing on recently released Kennedy family archives, Joseph P. Kennedy's private papers, and using rare photographs of English society and the photogenic Kennedy clan, Dr. Swift, with penetrating psychological insight, brings to life this fascinating family during a dramatic one thousand day period.

Praise For The Kennedys Amidst the Gathering Storm

“Elegantly written, delicately nuanced, this compelling account brings Joe Kennedy and hisfamily to life.”
-Bob Self, author of Neville Chamberlain: A Biography

“Swift’s chronicle gives an impressive insight into the mechanics of government on both sides of the Atlantic.”
-Anne De Courcy, author of 1939: The Last Season of PeaceAnne De Courcy, author of 1939: The Last Season of PeaceAnne De Courcy, author of 1939: The Last Season of PeaceAnne De Courcy, author of 1939: The Last Season of Peace

“A thoroughly revisionist but remarkably persuasive history of Joseph P. Kennedy’s years in London”
-David Nasaw , author of Pulitzer Prize–nominee Andrew Carnegie

“By wisely presenting pre-war London as a crucible in the [Kennedy] family history, [Swift] exposes the origin of many of the political, social, personal triumphs and tragedies that have cast the family—the father in particular—as a modern-day Lear.”
-Lynne McTaggart , author of Kathleen Kennedy: Her Life and Times, The Field and The Intention Experiment

“Dr. Swift’s psychological insight into the Kennedy family members and their dynamics makesa major contribution to the Kennedy literature.”
-Jane Vieth, professor of history, Michigan State University

“An admirably balanced assessment of an enormously complicated man who, wrongly but not ignobly, stood athwart history.”
-Kirkus Reviews, starred