Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter Info

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One of People’s Top Ten Books of 2015
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"[Larson] succeeds in providing a well-rounded portrait of
a woman who, until now, has never been viewed in
full."—Boston Globe

​“A biography
that chronicles her life with fresh details . . . By making Rosemary the
central character, [Larson] has produced a valuable account of a mental
health tragedy and an influential family’s belated efforts to
make amends.” — New York Times Book Review

 

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. Yet Rosemary was intellectually disabled, a
secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family.

/> In Rosemary, Kate Clifford Larson uses newly uncovered sources
to bring Rosemary Kennedy’s story to light. Young Rosemary comes
alive as a sweet, lively girl adored by her siblings. But Larson also
reveals the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys
made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly difficult in
her early twenties, culminating in Joe’s decision to have Rosemary
lobotomized at age twenty-three and the family’s complicity in
keeping the secret. Only years later did the Kennedy siblings begin to
understand what had happened to Rosemary, which inspired them to direct
government attention and resources to the plight of the developmentally
and mentally disabled, transforming the lives of millions.
/> 
“The forgotten Kennedy is forgotten no longer.
Rosemary is a rare thing, a book about the Kennedys that has
something new to say.” — Laurence Leamer, author of The
Kennedy Women

 
“Heartbreaking.”
Wall Street Journal

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter:

4

Jun 03, 2018

The stigma of mental illness is still alive and well. When you hear "the Kennedys" you think of JFK, Jackie-O and so much more - but what about Rosemary?

If you haven't heard of the eldest Kennedy daughter, then you aren't alone. Rosemary was a dirty skeleton in that prestigious family's closet and they (in particular her parents) were terrified of her getting out.

Rosemary Kennedy was born to an incredibly competitive and religious family. Rose (Rosemary's mother) wanted the perfect family and The stigma of mental illness is still alive and well. When you hear "the Kennedys" you think of JFK, Jackie-O and so much more - but what about Rosemary?

If you haven't heard of the eldest Kennedy daughter, then you aren't alone. Rosemary was a dirty skeleton in that prestigious family's closet and they (in particular her parents) were terrified of her getting out.

Rosemary Kennedy was born to an incredibly competitive and religious family. Rose (Rosemary's mother) wanted the perfect family and she was going to have it. No. Matter. What.

To give an example: if one child began to gain a few pounds above average, his diet was adjusted. If another began to lose weight, Rose would start slipping fatty foods onto his plate.

Right from the start, Rose could see that her namesake was falling behind. Rosemary was the slowest to walk, talk, read and write. Rosemary was behind on everything.

However, this was not current day with specialized therapy and treatments for the intellectually disabled. This was the early 1900s and: Treatment for people with disabilities and mental illness in prewar America reveals a profoundly ignorant medical establishment and educational community. And deeply religious Rose also recieved a clear stance from the church: At that time the Roman Catholic Church routinely refused the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation to intellectually disabled children, especially those with Down syndrome. Despite all of this Rose sought a solution - sending her daughter from one specialty boarding school to another.

Rosemary grew up intensely obsessed with pleasing her family - which their expectations would often be far above her capabilities. As she reached her late teens and twenties, she still had the mentality of a thirteen-year-old - as seen by her letters: I have gone down between 5 and 7 pounds already living on salads, egg at night, meat once a day, fish if I want, spinach and soup. Wait to [sic] you see me. I will be thin when Jack sees me. Around the same time there was a...movement...of sorts sweeping through the medical world. Freeman and a handful of colleagues around the world were convinced that lobotomies were the much-longed-for cure for deep depression, mental illness, and violent, erratic, and hyperactive behavior. A lobotomy - which could be as "simple" as inserting a medical instrument through the ocular cavity and snipping a bit of brain tissue - was exactly what happened.

Joe Kennedy - Rosemary's father - took her to a man. This man: believed that surgical intervention into the brain to treat psychological disorders did not require the extensive surgical training that neurosurgeons spent years acquiring. And he gave Rosemary's brain four snips. At the fourth, her language stopped, her motor control became practically nonexistent and her entire personality became a shell.

Such a prominent family could not have the story of this leaking to the public - it would absolutely ruin them. But how in the world could they cover this up?

Overall - a fascinating book. This one felt really well-researched - the sheer amount of direct quotes from letters wowed me. Truly a fascinating read.

Audiobook Comments
Bernadette Dunne read this riveting history and she was a fabulous reader. Really enjoyed the narration.

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Happy Reading! ...more
1

Nov 04, 2015

I can't finish this book. I can't get past the author and her attitude. At this point Rosemary is 16 in yet another expensive school where she is supposedly doing ok. Her brother, Joe Jnr goes to Europe where Hitler had come to power and persecution of Jews is on the rise. He writes to his father that he has heard much condemnation of Hitler and his party but he feels he should be given a chance.

He says that Germany is in economic ruins and the people are despondent. Hitler though gives the I can't finish this book. I can't get past the author and her attitude. At this point Rosemary is 16 in yet another expensive school where she is supposedly doing ok. Her brother, Joe Jnr goes to Europe where Hitler had come to power and persecution of Jews is on the rise. He writes to his father that he has heard much condemnation of Hitler and his party but he feels he should be given a chance.

He says that Germany is in economic ruins and the people are despondent. Hitler though gives the people hope and a common enemy, the Jews. It was excellent psychology, Joe Jnr wrote but this dislike of Jews was well-founded. (view spoiler)[Joe Snr hated 'Jew bankers'. He himself was a banker who had profiteered during the Great Depression by buying up businesses, real estate and other possessions by those forced to sell them and turned himself into one of the wealthiest men in America. (hide spoiler)] Joe went on to claim that the 'brutality' (is that what he calls it) towards the Jews must have been necessary to secure the whole-hearted support of the people - in every revolution you have to expect some kind of bloodshed.

Then we have the bombshell.

"Perhaps more shockingly, Joe also believed that Hitler's sterilization programme was a great thing. He said it would do away with many of the disgusting specimens of men which inhabit the earth."

Whatever those two Nazi-sympathisers Joe and his son felt, this is history. But it is the author who wrote "Perhaps more shockingly". She feels it is more shocking to approve of sterilization, because his sister is retarded and comes under that programme, than it is to not only approve of but applaud the persecution and murder of the Jews.

She wrote this, it is her feelings, not the Kennedys knowing that the family were already afraid of Rosemary having a baby because it could be retarded.

This author and I think quite differently about the world. She is writing in the present with the benefit of hindsight and still can write "perhaps more shockingly" knowing of the Holocaust. In my world sterilization can never be worse, more shocking, or even compared with murder. I don't want to read any more of what this author has to say. I am disgusted and sick at her attitude. If she hadn't felt the need to interpret Joe Jnr's attitudes herself, I would have read this book, but it's spoiled for me now.

____________


First thoughts after a couple of chapters(view spoiler)[ Rose is a Catholic saint. Joe is a womanizer and goes away a lot on 'business' but makes a lot of money and gives his wife everything she wants. Rose wants a big house, lots of staff, jewellery, holidays and social position. Joe wants to look like he is a thoroughly respectable Catholic husband. Rosemary is not helping them live out this mutual illusion being behind in every measure of development compared to her siblings (apart from looks). Sooner or later this 'problem' is going to have to be sorted out. (hide spoiler)] ...more
4

May 19, 2015

Rosemary was the Kennedy's first daughter, third child, suffered from a home birth gone wrong and basically disappeared from public view after her early twenties. This is the story of what her life was like and the story of why she had to disappear.

I know it was a different world back then, they did not have the resources for those developmentally disabled, even retarded was not a word thrown around back then, many would just drop these type of individuals off at asylums or sanitarium to be Rosemary was the Kennedy's first daughter, third child, suffered from a home birth gone wrong and basically disappeared from public view after her early twenties. This is the story of what her life was like and the story of why she had to disappear.

I know it was a different world back then, they did not have the resources for those developmentally disabled, even retarded was not a word thrown around back then, many would just drop these type of individuals off at asylums or sanitarium to be forgotten. So in this way Rosemary was fortunate to be born into a family of wealth, a family that could seek out and pay for what was available. Lucky in this way, yet it was a double edged sword which you will understand if you read her story. Eugenics was promoted heavily then, ignorance the mainstay of the medical profession and others who just did not understand and tended to classify all individuals with defects, whether mental or physical, the same.

It is hard to read this well researched and well told true life story and not be affected. It hit me personally because I was raised with a cousin, only five days younger than myself, who suffered a terrible accident at the age of five, the end result being a traumatic brain injury. He would never be right, developmentally only with the age of a ten or eleven year old, pretty much the same as Rosemary. I don't think Rose or Joe Kennedy came off looking to good after reading this, although I believe they loved their daughter, she was not their prime consideration. Not Rosemary as a person anyway, was the feeling I received.








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4

Aug 06, 2017

I'm astounded at all Rosemary went through because she was "different" from her other siblings. The treatment she received from her parents is heart breaking. I learned a lot from the Kennedy family. Smh.
4

Aug 25, 2018

I'm glad I finally got around to reading this book because for the most part it did a good job separating fact from rumors and misconception. Due to family secrecy and lost or redacted papers, we might not ever know the full story. However, this book is about as thorough and well-researched look we will ever probably get into Rosemary's life. Her story in my opinion is the saddest among a family who has experienced their fair share of tragedy.

Rosemary was the third child of Joe Kennedy Sr. and I'm glad I finally got around to reading this book because for the most part it did a good job separating fact from rumors and misconception. Due to family secrecy and lost or redacted papers, we might not ever know the full story. However, this book is about as thorough and well-researched look we will ever probably get into Rosemary's life. Her story in my opinion is the saddest among a family who has experienced their fair share of tragedy.

Rosemary was the third child of Joe Kennedy Sr. and Rose Kennedy and the eldest daughter. Literally, from birth her life is filled with things that didn't need to happen and negatively affected her quality of life. At the age of 23 a lobotomy was performed on Rosemary and she spent the rest of her life until her death at age 86, institutionalized. Decades passed before the lobotomy became public knowledge and even among Kennedy family siblings some years passed before most of them had a clearer picture of what happened to their sister.

I'll admit I have not been a big fan of most of the Kennedy family, particularly the men, and this book did nothing to alter my opinion. It is apparent that while some family members were researching lobotomies as a possible option and come to the conclusion it was too risky, Joe Sr. in secrecy scheduled the operation, not even telling his wife. While Rosemary intellectually might have been only on a third or fourth grade level, and was having increasingly difficult behavioral problems before the operation, it was obvious right away the procedure was a disaster. Not only was she barely able to communicate, she was now crippled. Extremely sad and frustrating to know this didn't have to happen.

In Rose and Joe Sr.'s defense I will say just in terms of Rosemary's education they did seem to do everything they could and didn't give up in trying to find schooling options that would be a good fit for her. Now personally I don't know why Latin needed to be part of the curriculum for a teenager who was writing at a third grade level and couldn't write in a straight line, but whatever. I also don't understand their intense scrutiny of her weight either.

In my opinion the behavioral problems that started to become an issue as Rosemary got older were what led to Joe's decision to force the lobotomy. Had there only been intellectual issues I don't think he would have opted to do the operation, I think the official story would be she was "working" at a school and therefore would not be in the limelight as the Kennedy family became more and more involved in politics. While we now know Rosemary before the procedure was sneaking out in the middle of the night at her school, we don't know if something tragic happened during one of these escapes. There have been rumors that there were sexual encounters but because of family secrecy we don't know if this was a fear of what could happen or if something horrible did occur. Regardless it is absolutely tragic that instead of providing her with around the clock supervision which they obviously could afford, Joe Sr. chose the lobotomy.

If there is anything good that came out of this tragedy, it is it had a tremendous impact on advancing special needs and disability causes in this country. Eunice Shriver, Rosemary's sister, went on to create the Special Olympics and both JFK jr. and Teddy Kennedy were involved with different legislation which has led to positive changes in the treatment of those who are not always able to advocate for themselves.

I definitely recommend this book as Rosemary's story is not one that should be forgotten. ...more
4

Sep 23, 2016

Kate Clifford Larson delivers a compelling and compassionate account of Rosemary The Hidden Kennedy"

I really enjoyed this well written and researched look back at the life of the oldest daughter of the Kennedy family. I had been aware that Rosemary had lived her life in an institution for some time but had no idea of the circumstances that led to her being institutioniased and this book is a great insight into her life and indeed the health care system at the time.

I think the author does and Kate Clifford Larson delivers a compelling and compassionate account of Rosemary The Hidden Kennedy"

I really enjoyed this well written and researched look back at the life of the oldest daughter of the Kennedy family. I had been aware that Rosemary had lived her life in an institution for some time but had no idea of the circumstances that led to her being institutioniased and this book is a great insight into her life and indeed the health care system at the time.

I think the author does and excellent job at presenting this account of Rosemary and the Kennedy family and the reader is able to read the book and make up their minds about how they feel about the way in which Rosemarie was treated. I was afraid that the account of Rosemarie's life would be overshadowed by the politics of the Kennedy's and details of of elections and deaths of jack and Bobby but I have to praise Kate Clifford Larson for her presentation of the facts and details surrounding the life of the Kennedy's. She presents the facts reverent to the story and we get quite a clear picture without weeding through unnessary information.

Rosemary's story will stay with me a long time as it made me wonder at the life she could have had under different circumstances and how I wished her father Joe had accepted Rosemary and hadn't gone through with the operation. My thoughts were with other families who didn't have the means or the connections to care for loved ones with the same circumstances.

A wonderful well written and emotional read that will stay with me for a long time.

I listened to this book on audible and the narrator was excellent but I did miss out on the photographs included in the hard copy.

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5

Jan 11, 2018

I learned, I was absorbed, I was emotionally invested = 5 stars.

Review of the audio.

Rosemary Kennedy, the third child and first daughter born to Rose and Joe Kennedy, was intellectually disabled due to a trauma during her birth. It was both interesting and devastating to learn how the Kennedys, the medical field, and the mainstream U.S. culture, felt about the disability at the time. I hope we’ve made some strides in this area, but there is definitely room to grow.

The Kennedys were staunch in I learned, I was absorbed, I was emotionally invested = 5 stars.

Review of the audio.

Rosemary Kennedy, the third child and first daughter born to Rose and Joe Kennedy, was intellectually disabled due to a trauma during her birth. It was both interesting and devastating to learn how the Kennedys, the medical field, and the mainstream U.S. culture, felt about the disability at the time. I hope we’ve made some strides in this area, but there is definitely room to grow.

The Kennedys were staunch in their beliefs that, as a young child, Rosemary could grow developmentally and reach the achievements, both physically, academically, and cognitively, of her siblings. As she got older, the Kennedys were tireless in their efforts to find an appropriate school for Rosemary, where she would excel. She had so many transitions, and transitions were hard for her. As she got older, Rosemary had some anger and outbursts more frequently, and the family went in search of another type of care for her. They literally tried all of what was available for her at the time, and some of these things were positive (like the Devereaux School which was ahead of its time) and others were traumatic and destructive. The author follows from before Rosemary’s birth (how her parents met, the two sons born before her) all the way through the end of Rosemary’s life and after.

This was a nonfiction book filled with well-researched detail about the Kennedy family and the time period. Rosemary is whom it’s all about, and she was on my heart. I can’t help but wish she had been born in a different time when intellectual disabilities were more accepted, where treatments were safer, and where she could be free to be the lovely, radiant person she was. Even if they didn’t always express it how I would have, I was struck by her family’s love for her, especially Eunice’s devotion. The last few paragraphs of the book include some thoughts from Rose who had a conflicted relationship with Rosemary, but early in her life, she had been her biggest advocate and protector. Rose discussed what she felt the purpose of Rosemary’s life had been for the family. That was touching. She finally got it. Or a little bit of it.

I never felt bogged down in the details on this one. It was a pleasure learning about the time period, which gave context to Rosemary’s life. Overall, this was a solid listen. ...more
4

Aug 31, 2018

It was a very informative read for me as I knew very little about this lady. The book reads very, very well.
4

Oct 23, 2017

Rosemary Kennedy, the third child of Joe & Rose Kennedy, was born in 1918. The doctor was late in coming to the home birth, and a nurse instructed Rose to hold her legs together and not push, to delay the baby's arrival til the doctor could get there. This delay deprived Rosemary of oxygen, leaving her learning disabled and mentally challenged. The Kennedy family was wealthy and powerful. In that day and age, having a retarded or mentally ill family member was a stigma, an embarrassment that Rosemary Kennedy, the third child of Joe & Rose Kennedy, was born in 1918. The doctor was late in coming to the home birth, and a nurse instructed Rose to hold her legs together and not push, to delay the baby's arrival til the doctor could get there. This delay deprived Rosemary of oxygen, leaving her learning disabled and mentally challenged. The Kennedy family was wealthy and powerful. In that day and age, having a retarded or mentally ill family member was a stigma, an embarrassment that the Kennedy family did not want. Rosemary's mental challenges were kept a secret. She was moved from school to school for decades as her parents searched for a way to make her seem "normal.'' When it finally was realized that Rosemary would never reach the intelligence and poise of her siblings, her father made a chilling decision. He had Rosemary lobotomized. She lived the rest of her life tucked away in an institution in Wisconsin. Her personality and character almost completely erased. Rose Kennedy publicly stated that an "accident'' had rendered her daughter mentally incapacitated. The truth would not be revealed for decades.

I listened to the audiobook version of this biography by Kate Clifford Larson. Larson gives background on the parents, the family, and the competitive, demanding lifestyle of the Kennedy clan. Rosemary just didn't fit into the family, causing frustration for her parents and siblings. Decades were spent trying to "fix'' her, rather than help her live within her capabilities.

As a mother, this book was hard for me to take. I am so glad that I didn't grow up in an age where families hid children who weren't perfect and where there were no services or assistance to help them grow into functioning adults. And I was shocked that Joe Kennedy would choose to have his daughter lobotomized to keep her from embarrassing the family. What a horrific and terrible choice! Then he hid her away in an institution in the midwest and never saw her again. Wow -- how cold and callous. The political aspirations of his sons were more important than the life of his mentally challenged daughter....so he had her lobotomized. For 20 years nobody in the family asked where Rosemary was or attempted to visit her because Joe had complete control over his family. When he died, Rose and the family visited Rosemary and even brought her home for visits. Rose tried to say that she didn't realize what was done to Rosemary, but documents have since proven that was not the case.

Some good did come from the events though. The Kennedy family, especially Eunice Shriver, backed many important programs for special education, including the Special Olympics. In later years, the Kennedy siblings did admit that they had a retarded sister and that the care and quality of life for those with mental challenges should be a priority.

Rose Marie "Rosemary'' Kennedy died in the Wisconsin institution in 2005 at the age of 85.

This book does a great job of presenting facts about Rosemary's life, before and after her surgery. It details what the family did to educate and try to accommodate Rosemary's limitations and mood swings. Larson doesn't pull punches about how mental illness, retardation and physical deformities were considered a stigma, something to be hidden away. The concept of Eugenics was big at the time, and declared that any abnormalities were due to genetic inferiority. The Kennedy Clan kept Rosemary a secret to prevent any damage to the family's social standing. They weren't the only wealthy, powerful family to do so -- the practice was common. So sad. But later efforts by the Kennedy family paved the way for education programs, social services and much better care for mentally and physically challenged children and adults. I'm glad that some good came from the situation in the end. And, Rosemary was very well treated and loved by the nuns at the Wisconsin institution where she lived out the rest of her life.

The audiobook is narrated by Bernadette Dunne. She reads at a nice pace. Her voice is pleasant and easily understood. I have partial hearing loss, but was able to easily understand Dunne's reading. The audiobook is almost 8 hours in length.

Kate Clifford Larson presents a well-rounded history of Rosemary, and the Kennedy Family's attempts to help her. She gives details both from Rosemary's point of view and the family's. She also includes historical facts and the era's attitudes towards the mentally challenged to explain why certain decisions were made, not to excuse those choices. The book is very well researched and written, but disturbing.

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5

Jun 14, 2015

I don't usually read bios or memoirs but I remember Rosemary Kennedy from when I was a child. She was the forgotten Kennedy, the one we knew nothing about ( her family made sure of that). At least until now. Heartbreaking, disturbing but essential reading. Having read her biography I will always remember Rosemary as one of the people who forever changed the way we as a society treat those with disabilities.
4

Oct 26, 2015

Tragic.

That is really the only word I can think to describe the life of Rosemary Kennedy.

Kate Clifford Larson gives readers a meticulously researched and highly readable book about the eldest Kennedy daughter, her relationship with her parents and siblings, and ultimately her impact on the special needs community.

At every point in her development, beginning with her botched at-home birth, Joe and Rose Kennedy could tell that Rosemary was different than her siblings. They spared no expense Tragic.

That is really the only word I can think to describe the life of Rosemary Kennedy.

Kate Clifford Larson gives readers a meticulously researched and highly readable book about the eldest Kennedy daughter, her relationship with her parents and siblings, and ultimately her impact on the special needs community.

At every point in her development, beginning with her botched at-home birth, Joe and Rose Kennedy could tell that Rosemary was different than her siblings. They spared no expense sending her to private schools and making arrangements for her to be "cured," resulting in much tumult which left Rosemary feeling like a failure compared to her uber competitive, successful, and intelligent siblings. The final and most horrific "treatment" being the lobotomy which robbed Rosemary of the majority of the intellect she possessed, as well as much of her gross motor ability.

It is easy in 2015 to call Joe and Rose cruel and heartless -- more concerned with appearances and the family name than with their daughter's actual needs and worth. Indeed, some of their decisions are stupefying and absurd (long after Rosemary's lobotomy, when she is hidden away from the world in Wisconsin, Rose is still obsessed with Rosemary's weight -- upset that the nuns in Wisconsin have let Rosemary put on "a few pounds".) After the lobotomy they kept Rosemary's true condition a secret for years, even from her siblings.

Still, I found myself trying to hold back some judgement on the Kennedy parents, reminding myself that we know so much more know about those with special needs than was known in the 1930s and 40s. I do think that Joe and Rose thought they could "cure" Rose with the right measures.

Whatever the sins of the parents, Rosemary's siblings used their power, influence and money to improve research and opportunities for the special needs community. According to Eunice Kennedy Shriver's son Anthony, "The interest [Rosemary] sparked in my family toward people with special needs will one day go down as the greatest accomplishment that any Kennedy has made on a global basis." ...more
5

Mar 07, 2017

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson is a book that was hard to read due to the content and not due to due to the author in any way. Let's face it, Rosemary's father was a big jerk! This book didn't say this but just read it and common sense sees it. I have read plenty of respectable articles on this family. Let's go through this shall we.
Joe Sr., Rosemary's father, main focus in life was political power, financial power, social power, and being a powerful Catholic. He Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson is a book that was hard to read due to the content and not due to due to the author in any way. Let's face it, Rosemary's father was a big jerk! This book didn't say this but just read it and common sense sees it. I have read plenty of respectable articles on this family. Let's go through this shall we.
Joe Sr., Rosemary's father, main focus in life was political power, financial power, social power, and being a powerful Catholic. He bullied others to back him in politics, he did insider trading that left many poor but him rich -he was doing this during a birth of one of his children, he didn't believe women should enjoy sex but only should have sex to have children yet he had affairs, he kept his wife pregnant and he was away frequently and she was lonely, when she got so lonely she wanted to leave he berated her and said she was unfit mother and Catholic, he sent Rosemary to school after school to FIX her even though she functioned at a fourth grade level he wanted perfection because that is what he believed in for his family, he was the one that took Rosemary to the quack and had the lobotomy done on her and lied to the family, his 9 yr old son was afraid enough of him that he thought he would make him disappear too if he didn't please his father, and I could go on.... This is the kind of father Rosemary had. Rosemary was a blight on his social standing, his political ambitions, his social climb, and she couldn't take sacraments due to her retardation. All the things that mattered most to him.
The author didn't seem bias in her writing, she just stated the facts and let you dig out the conclusions. I have read a lot on this family, kind of weird fascination I guess.
Being a nurse too I have read a lot on Freeman and his lobotomy procedures. It got to be a theater act for him. He would sometimes line up the patients and do one right after another to see how many he could do in an hour. He would, on occasion, have an ice pick in each hand and do a procedure at the same time to show the press how same and easy it was! Horrible!
When the discussion of Hitler and his views of sterilizing the mentally handicap, along with the Jews and any others that Hitler felt unfit, in Germany, to me this sounds no different then the start of what I am hearing here in America. If Trump said, "Muslims not only should be banned but sterilized." Many of his supporters would jump all over that! I am not saying America would but you bet some of his supporters would. I know for a fact that some mentally handicap people are being sterilized today by their families or getting an implant to prevent pregnancy. It is just a matter of getting some to agree for whatever reason, or good lawyers.
I did enjoy the information I gleaned from this book and the many pictures that were in there. The author also shared some personal info on the last page. The "good" that came from this? JFK did enact bills for the mentally handicap, Teddy the HIPPA, and a sister donated millions and worked for the handicap. Joe Sr, Karma is a bitch and she gave back to him in the end...stuck in a wheel chair unable to speak or move more than one an arm or leg much for 8 yrs. due to a stroke. I love you Karma... ...more
5

Sep 19, 2015

This is a story of a poor little rich girl, Rosemary Kennedy, the hidden Kennedy. Being rich isn't going to solve all your problems, and could just contribute to making them worse.

Starting with a horrific birth practice, Rosemary's life was never easy. Especially in a family that honors competition and winning above all else.

This is also a story of a girl, and then a woman, whose life should never have been as it was. Even after her traumatic birth, it could have been so much better for her. But This is a story of a poor little rich girl, Rosemary Kennedy, the hidden Kennedy. Being rich isn't going to solve all your problems, and could just contribute to making them worse.

Starting with a horrific birth practice, Rosemary's life was never easy. Especially in a family that honors competition and winning above all else.

This is also a story of a girl, and then a woman, whose life should never have been as it was. Even after her traumatic birth, it could have been so much better for her. But we certainly don't want to be embarrassed by a child who is “dull” when her eight siblings shine. My gosh, it was hard to live up to the Kennedy name.

The story is straightforward in its telling. Rosemary's story is anything but straightforward. The poor child was bounced around so often that even a normal child without mental disabilities would have trouble coping. And then there was the traumatic and ill-advised surgery, barbaric.

Some of the children were very good with Rosemary, especially Eunice. It seems Joe, Sr. threw money instead of love at the problem. Rosemary adored her father, and would do anything to please him. And Rose, Rosemary's mother, was not honest about her daughter when she sent her various places, and was not honest in her memoirs. When things got tough, it seems her first action of choice was to take a vacation.

Some of the people who took care of Rosemary sound wonderful, and I'm glad Rosemary had those people in her life..

This book caused me some anger, and much sadness. I lost some respect for some people. Fortunately, things have become better when working with people with mental disabilities, but we're far from winning a gold star.

I was given an advance reader's copy of this book for review. Even the advance copy contained some lovely photographs, which I am sure will be even better in the finished, published edition. ...more
4

May 20, 2015

Concise, well-researched and to the point!

Of interest to all seeking information about the Kennedy family and treatment of those with mental, psychological and physical disabilities in the US during the last century.

So much can be said about the Kennedy family and so much has been written. This book focuses only upon those aspects that are directly related to Rosemary Kennedy(1918-2005), the third of Joseph and Rose Kennedy's nine children. At delivery the midwife delayed birth until the doctor Concise, well-researched and to the point!

Of interest to all seeking information about the Kennedy family and treatment of those with mental, psychological and physical disabilities in the US during the last century.

So much can be said about the Kennedy family and so much has been written. This book focuses only upon those aspects that are directly related to Rosemary Kennedy(1918-2005), the third of Joseph and Rose Kennedy's nine children. At delivery the midwife delayed birth until the doctor could arrive. This lead to mental, physical and psychological disabilities that with time became strikingly apparent in Rosemary.

The book covers how the parents dealt with the problem, who decided what and why and what actions were taken by the siblings. Although Rosemary was hidden publicly her existence shaped the entire Kennedy family.

The author does an excellent job of providing all relevant details, while at the same time eliminating those that are not necessary to the central focus on Rosemary and care of those with disabilities. Every event is supported with relevant historical, medical and scientific analysis. To understand what happened the reader must be made aware of historical family, political and medical facts. That the Kennedy family highly valued its Irish Catholic descent, the family's orientation toward career, fame and success, the strength of the Eugenic Movement in that era, scientific trends supporting lobotomies and educational trends all influenced the decisions made. I appreciated that the author indicated when the reliability of existing statements and documents should perhaps be questioned. Conflicting evidence is also provided.

The book doesn’t provide the internal thoughts of family members. We watch what they do, but actions say a lot. Deeds say more than words often.

The reader cannot help but consider guilt, not just who was at fault but how we behave if we feel ourselves to be at fault.

The audiobook is narrated by Bernadette Dunne. It is clear and easy to follow, except that at the beginning it is too speedy. She slows down after a while.

A very good book that doesn’t spread out in all different directions. Interesting, concise and moving.
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3

Oct 14, 2015

Wow, what a pair Joe and Rose Kennedy were! It's a wonder the kids turned out as well as they did. But oh my oh my poor Rosemary. If she had any happiness at all it was because of the love and protection her brothers and sisters gave her as well as the many professionals hired to hide her. But in the end they were all powerless to save her from her parents. This book was just so hard to read because of the pain and misery heaped on her by her parents, both more concerned with their reputations Wow, what a pair Joe and Rose Kennedy were! It's a wonder the kids turned out as well as they did. But oh my oh my poor Rosemary. If she had any happiness at all it was because of the love and protection her brothers and sisters gave her as well as the many professionals hired to hide her. But in the end they were all powerless to save her from her parents. This book was just so hard to read because of the pain and misery heaped on her by her parents, both more concerned with their reputations and themselves. The research was so thorough and the writing done so well. Unfortunately, I found myself rushing through to end the pain. The bright spot though was the fervor with which the siblings tackled the problem of the mentally challenged, especially Eunice.
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4

Dec 11, 2015

I've long been interested in Rosemary Kennedy's life as she hasn't been all that "hidden" in my eyes. I'm fascinated/disgusted/horrified by the lobotomy "craze" that happened in the middle part of last century and have done a ton of research in the area, not only about Rosemary but also others tangentially "famous" (e.g. Tennessee Williams' sister) victims and other "regular" folk (ahem, mostly women, as they were by far the vast majority of patients). Full disclosure: my interest in this was I've long been interested in Rosemary Kennedy's life as she hasn't been all that "hidden" in my eyes. I'm fascinated/disgusted/horrified by the lobotomy "craze" that happened in the middle part of last century and have done a ton of research in the area, not only about Rosemary but also others tangentially "famous" (e.g. Tennessee Williams' sister) victims and other "regular" folk (ahem, mostly women, as they were by far the vast majority of patients). Full disclosure: my interest in this was piqued at an early age due to certain vagaries in my family history.

Anyhow, despite extensive, extensive research I can honestly say that this is the first time I truly believed Rosemary Kennedy was severely developmentally delayed and not just a little wilder/less polished/less ambitious than her Kennedy cohorts. The author had access to never-before-released correspondence and you can see that Rosemary very much operated at a 4th grade level even as an adult. Obviously this fact does not support the lobotomy, but one does get a sense that her parents were trying to do anything and everything to help her. And as a reader I did come to have some sympathy for their fear as parents. They had a very beautiful, very high profile daughter, who had the mind of an 8 year old, and trying to protect her in the "real world" was no small task. While by no means do I view Joe or Rose Kennedy as altruistic, I will say that after reading this book I no longer view them as complete monsters. People made hugely bad decisions, but this book does make the reader better understand the extreme complexity of the situation.

This was also the first I read about Rosemary's experience with the nuns and other residents at Coletta. She truly had a loving, close network of support and friends for 70-ish years. Although my heart breaks for the fact her family ignored her for many decades before bringing her back into the fold, it was a small relief to know that she was loved, and cared for, and looked after.

My only real ding on this was that the focus is still too much on the Kennedys as a whole, and not just Rosemary. I had a hard time with the hypothesis that the Kennedys are who they are because of her...it's very clear no one visited her for many decades and then the remorse set in. Some good has certainly come from it, in the end, but I don't for once buy that she drove the ambitions of the others. She was basically squirreled away and they were all fine by that...for a time. (Side note: I had no idea Joe Jr. was such an unrepentant Nazi...HE was supposed to be the President?!? Not JFK? Yuck!) Nonetheless, a worthwhile and affecting read. ...more
5

Jun 20, 2018

One of my Goodreads friends posted a review on this book a couple weeks ago and it made me want to read this book right away. I started this book Monday evening at the Providence airport waiting to fly home into DC, and for some reason I felt the mix of RI and DC set a perfect reading setting for this book.

We get the story of Rosemary, the Kennedy child who was stashed away because she was mentally disabled. It is mind blowing that there was a time when these individuals were hidden away from One of my Goodreads friends posted a review on this book a couple weeks ago and it made me want to read this book right away. I started this book Monday evening at the Providence airport waiting to fly home into DC, and for some reason I felt the mix of RI and DC set a perfect reading setting for this book. ????

We get the story of Rosemary, the Kennedy child who was stashed away because she was mentally disabled. It is mind blowing that there was a time when these individuals were hidden away from public but obviously we know it is apart of our history. The lobotomy description was just plain heartrending. It was horrific that this happened to people. A huge black mark in medicine, psychology, & plain ole humanity in my opinion. This book is short but it is grasping to say the least. You will be emotionally involved in the story as you are reading it.

My quick and simple overall: a story that is devastating to read about because of the treatment of Rosemary but is worth reading because it displays so much of the history of the family and steps taken to make a better place for the mentally disabled. ...more
5

Apr 07, 2017

I listened to the audio version. It took two days. It was so interesting, I didn't want to quit listening. I was only a little familiar with Rosemary Kennedy. Such a complex family. So much greatness and so much sadness. A family strove so much for perfection, but families aren't perfect, far from it. And so many if only's, if only they hadn't waited on the doctor when Rosemary was being delivered. The big one--if only they hadn't done the lobotomy. It seemed like the lesson to be learned here I listened to the audio version. It took two days. It was so interesting, I didn't want to quit listening. I was only a little familiar with Rosemary Kennedy. Such a complex family. So much greatness and so much sadness. A family strove so much for perfection, but families aren't perfect, far from it. And so many if only's, if only they hadn't waited on the doctor when Rosemary was being delivered. The big one--if only they hadn't done the lobotomy. It seemed like the lesson to be learned here was acceptance. Accept Rosemary and love her for who she was. The Kennedys had the means to do so. ...more
2

Jan 09, 2016

While the story of Rosemary is compelling enough, the book as a whole is held back by the author's mediocre writing. Fact is, we don't know much about Rosemary because there was such a staunch effort to hide her life. Rather than accept this, the author tries to bulk up the missing pieces with unnecessary information (paragraph after paragraph gives the histories of schools Rosemary attended and doctors she encountered) resulting in a distracted and at times boring read. Nonetheless, Rosemary's While the story of Rosemary is compelling enough, the book as a whole is held back by the author's mediocre writing. Fact is, we don't know much about Rosemary because there was such a staunch effort to hide her life. Rather than accept this, the author tries to bulk up the missing pieces with unnecessary information (paragraph after paragraph gives the histories of schools Rosemary attended and doctors she encountered) resulting in a distracted and at times boring read. Nonetheless, Rosemary's life is fascinating enough to make it worthwhile. Get it from the library, but maybe don't invest in your own copy. ...more
3

Nov 05, 2015

This biography consists of a string of events about Rosemary's disability and her parents' denial and attitude. Unfortunately, her circumstances didn't get better. They got worse with the lobotomy and the consequences were devastating. I'm glad peoples' stance (the Kennedy's included) has changed over time towards people with disabilities.
4

Jul 22, 2015

Initially, I was disappointed by this book. In a book that was supposed to be ABOUT Rosemary Kennedy, there did not seem to be a lot about her. Instead, there was information about her and the rest of her family -- her relationship with each of her parents and siblings. It wasn't until later that I realized this was just as important, if not more so, as a history about Rosemary, herself. The reason is that many of the decisions about Rosemary and her life were based on Rosemary's relationships Initially, I was disappointed by this book. In a book that was supposed to be ABOUT Rosemary Kennedy, there did not seem to be a lot about her. Instead, there was information about her and the rest of her family -- her relationship with each of her parents and siblings. It wasn't until later that I realized this was just as important, if not more so, as a history about Rosemary, herself. The reason is that many of the decisions about Rosemary and her life were based on Rosemary's relationships with her family.

Rosemary's personal story quickly took off, beginning in November 1941 -- the month her father scheduled her for a frontal lobotomy -- the description of this procedure at George Washington University Hospital was heart-wrenching.

One of Rosemary's doctors claimed the lobotomy would produce a more docile, less moody Rosemary. The operation did much more than that! She could no longer walk or talk. It would take months of physical therapy and constant care before she would be able to move around, and then only with limitations. She never recovered full use of her limbs. She walked with one leg and foot turned awkwardly in, creating a labored stride. She only had partial use of one of her arms. Also, she could speak only a handful of words. The operation destroyed a crucial part of Rosemary's brain and erased years of emotional, physical, and intellectual development, leaving her completely incapable of taking care of herself.

Joe Kennedy ordered this procedure because he was afraid that Rosemary would embarrass the Kennedy Clan by becoming pregnant or she would get kidnapped. After his resignation as ambassador, he worked diligently to further the political opportunities of Joe, Jr. and Jack. Rosemary was a problem (in his mindset) that could throw a serious roadblock to the boys' political success.

The book says that Rose never asked about the daughter, who was named after her, EVER! I find that hard to believe. The whole situation where Joe never told anyone (in the family) where Rosemary was for 20 years?!?! Unbelievable! According to this book, Joe's news about Rosemary was infrequent and vague. Only six (6) letters between Joe, Joe, Jr., Jack, and Kick (Kathleen) with any reference to Rosemary survive from 1942 to 1944.

It wasn't until Joe had his stroke in 1961, that certain facts began to come to light, including where Rosemary was living.

The chapter called "Rosemary Made a Difference" was most enlightening. Many of our laws relating to people with special needs came about because of Rosemary and her family's influence. Ted Kennedy was especially instrumental in getting things like the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (1975), the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Child Care Act (both passed in 1990), and the Ryan White AIDS Care Act of 1990.

Eunice Kennedy's work with the Special Olympics was most poignant.

The pictures included, especially those showing Rosemary in her later years, were most appreciated. Before reading this book, I only ever saw pictures of her pre-lobotomy.

At the end of the book, you need to read the "Author's Note." Here, you learn why not much is written about Rosemary's medical condition -- HIPPA is a big reason for this.



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5

Jun 06, 2016

Born with an apparent intellectual disability with her condition kept a secret by her wealthy family, Rosemary Kennedy was eventually sent away to be lobotomized in order to lessen the burden on her parents, brothers and sisters. This book is a powerful and frightening story about a woman who had she been not "altered", might have been able to lead a near-normal life. It's also a lesson to psychologists, psychiatrists and parents of the present and future not to resort so quickly to dangerous Born with an apparent intellectual disability with her condition kept a secret by her wealthy family, Rosemary Kennedy was eventually sent away to be lobotomized in order to lessen the burden on her parents, brothers and sisters. This book is a powerful and frightening story about a woman who had she been not "altered", might have been able to lead a near-normal life. It's also a lesson to psychologists, psychiatrists and parents of the present and future not to resort so quickly to dangerous mind-dimming procedures, and it's a story about a close-knit family that really was full of love despite the tragedy that happened. ...more
4

Apr 12, 2017

This is going to be an unusual review for me because this book really hit me hard and I’m going to do a rant/book review for this one … so bear with me -

I was fascinated by this story and of Rosemary's life. I'm ultimately sad for her and how her family made decisions about and for her that were so selfish. I am sad she wasn't born into a family who could appreciate her for who she was instead of needing her to be something particular in order to fit into their social ideal. And the saddest This is going to be an unusual review for me because this book really hit me hard and I’m going to do a rant/book review for this one … so bear with me -

I was fascinated by this story and of Rosemary's life. I'm ultimately sad for her and how her family made decisions about and for her that were so selfish. I am sad she wasn't born into a family who could appreciate her for who she was instead of needing her to be something particular in order to fit into their social ideal. And the saddest part for me was how much she wanted to please the very people who ultimately hurt her so bad. She just wanted them to love her and I find it so sad that they ultimately seemed to only truly love her if she fit into some stupid ideal they had in their mind. I found that I came to the end feeling more compassion towards her mother and siblings than to her father. He just came across as an ass quite honestly - one who cared about no one but himself and his standing in the world. As long as his children fit in the box he needed them to be in, they were great. If they didn't fit into the box, they were problems to be fixed. SO SAD and INFURIATING for his family.

I don't understand how you can give your child a lobotomy and then just never see her again. I felt like her father was such a coward ... to put her through that and then not even visit her again? Who does that to their child?

Frankly, I feel sorry for ALL the Kennedy children after reading this book. The constant need to be 'on' in the world and fit into your family's expectations. So many secrets and hidden things and not talking about what's actually happening. What an unhealthy way to live your life!

And I have to say that if my parents just hid my sibling and she disappeared from our lives, I'd be MAD. And my family would know I was mad. It feels like they all just abandoned her. Oh she's in the Midwest, OK, hope she's OK. Who treats their sister like that? Who just goes with that? I'm sorry but I'm struggling with how anyone could do that and feel OK about it. Perhaps that was just their family dynamic but I just don't get it.

I've always been a bit fascinated by this family but this book didn't do much to make me care more for them. In fact, I'm sad that no one stood up for Rosemary in this whole mess. Or that it took them so long to do so. I know Eunice and other siblings have made a difference as a result but I can't help but feel like it's a little too late for their sister who suffered so much. And I think that's SAD. Not to say that the changes they've made haven't been great, because of course they have changed so much with their attention and advocacy. But, I can't help but feel bad that so much had to go wrong for Rosemary in order to make those changes a reality. She just deserved better.
I am most sad about the fact that she was OK. She wasn't perfect but she was doing OK. With support, she could have continued to be OK. And instead her father made a decision that changed her life forever because she wasn't OK enough for him. She deserved so much better.

OK, I'm going to stop ranting. I just think that a book that affected me and made me feel so much, deserves a higher rating than the actual writing of the book would usually get from me. So, I'm giving it 4 stars. ...more
3

Apr 28, 2017

This book came to a very abrupt ending. I was only a little more than 60% through when the story ended. Rosemary Kennedy died the end. Approximately 40% of the book is source citations. I found this detracted considerably from the book as a whole.
The life of Rosemary Kennedy is a tragic story. I don't think this book added much to what has already been written. She was born at a time and to a family where what was then called mental retardation was something to be hidden. Joe and Rose Kennedy This book came to a very abrupt ending. I was only a little more than 60% through when the story ended. Rosemary Kennedy died the end. Approximately 40% of the book is source citations. I found this detracted considerably from the book as a whole.
The life of Rosemary Kennedy is a tragic story. I don't think this book added much to what has already been written. She was born at a time and to a family where what was then called mental retardation was something to be hidden. Joe and Rose Kennedy were trying to climb the ladder of success at a time when being Irish and Catholic was not quite acceptable.
Rosemary didn't stand a chance in a family that prized competition to be the very best as the Kennedy family did. She was always a problem to be dealt with in secret. There was no such thing as special ed. This was a time period in our history when mentally ill, mentally retarded, poor and even black women were subjected to forced sterilization. Eugenics or only the best were deemed worthy to procreate. Hitler and his idea of a superior race was popular in the United States as well. The Jews that wanted refuge from Hitler were turned away.
Rosemary actually functioned quite well all things considered but by the time she was in her 20s she had become harder to control. She was considered the most beautiful of the Kennedy women and sometimes she would sneak out and wander the streets at night. Joe Kennedy was very afraid that she would be "taken advantage of". She was definitely a potential embarrassment. Joe was pretty much in control. Rose was incapable of dealing with Rosemary.
There were not a lot of options for someone like Rosemary. I don't think Joe meant to do anything harmful to his daughter. He obviously loved her very much but she had become a problem that he wanted a solution for.
Certain psychiatrists were pushing a special procedure called a lobotomy and Joe was getting desperate enough to believe in it as something to solve the problem of what to do about Rosemary. So he approved this horrible procedure for his daughter even though there was virtually no evidence of it being successful.
The book goes into the aftermath of this for Rosemary's quality of life but I don't want to spoil the book for anyone. Rosemary was the inspiration for the active role the Kennedy family still takes in advocating for the mentally ill and the mentally challenged. ...more
4

Nov 18, 2016

The takeaway from this book is the profound effect Rosemary Kennedy, intellectually disabled (called “retarded” in the book in the vernacular of the time) had on her eight famous brothers and sisters. Her plight inspired them to enact legislation and direct government resources to the developmentally and mentally disabled, even resulting in the creation of the Special Olympics.

The book shocked me in the beginning with the home birth of Rosemary. The pregnancy had been healthy with no The takeaway from this book is the profound effect Rosemary Kennedy, intellectually disabled (called “retarded” in the book in the vernacular of the time) had on her eight famous brothers and sisters. Her plight inspired them to enact legislation and direct government resources to the developmentally and mentally disabled, even resulting in the creation of the Special Olympics.

The book shocked me in the beginning with the home birth of Rosemary. The pregnancy had been healthy with no complications. Rose Kennedy’s personal obstetrician had been called but there was a Spanish influenza pandemic and the doctor was delayed. Her nurse was present and though she was trained in the latest obstetrical nursing practices, she could neither deliver the baby nor administer anesthetics. While the book doesn’t offer this as the definitive reason for Rosemary’s mental deficits, without the physician present, the nurse demanded that Rose hold her legs together tightly to delay the birth. When the doctor still didn’t arrive, the nurse took the baby’s head and forced it back in the birth canal for two hours! No doubt there was oxygen deprivation. (Then again, the doctor couldn’t be paid his high fee if he missed the birth.)

Joe and Rose Kennedy had the money to send Rosemary to special schools and hire companions. But they also encouraged their children to excel and compete and as Rosemary grew older, she couldn’t keep up and this was a source of anxiety, causing her to become more difficult to handle. Keeping her out of the public eye and her disabilities a secret was always a priority for her parents, especially her father as he had political aspirations for himself and his sons. Interestingly, her parents thought her disabilities could be overcome and they were always pushing her and looking for “cures” which ultimately led to the secret lobotomy, a new treatment at the time, when Rosemary was twenty-three. Joe Kennedy arranged it; none of the other family members knew about it—some for many years. The lobotomy rendered Rosemary docile, unable to walk or talk. And yet she lived to the age of eighty-six.

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter was an excellent read; I learned a lot about all the Kennedys, especially beautiful Rosemary.
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