Also from Amanda Smith

Hostage to Fortune:
The Letters of Joseph P. Kennedy

Amanda Smith, Ed.
(Viking, 2001; Penguin, 2002)

Hostage To Fortune The Letters of Joseph P. KennedyJoseph P. Kennedy remains one of the most enigmatic and controversial figures in American history. From his humble beginnings as the grandson of Irish immigrants through his meteoric rise to statesman, diplomat, and finally to first father, he has been both beloved and vilified. In Hostage to Fortune: The Letters of Joseph P. Kennedy, Amanda Smith has unearthed an extraordinary treasure of her grandfather’s correspondence and several unseen photographs in a collection that reveals his metamorphoses. It is not only a living history of Kennedy’s life, but also a revelation of his vision of his own family as the embodiment of the American dream.

In the only firsthand record of his life, Hostage to Fortune begins in 1914, with the honeymoon of Joe and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy in Atlantic City and ends in 1961 with Joe’s disabling stroke. In between, we see the public and private Kennedy—father, husband, film producer, New Deal government official, and U.S. ambassador in London. The correspondence between his wife and nine children is a completely loving one that too often ends in love and grief. His relationships with the great figures of the age—Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Neville Chamberlain, Pope Pius XII, and Charles Lindbergh—show him courting friendships but also fighting for his beliefs, a trait that would ultimately end his public career.

At once a fitting tribute to her grandfather, a great historical work, and a chronicle of America’s greatest family, Hostage to Fortune will engage American history lovers as well as a public that continues to be fascinated by the Kennedy family.


Praise for Amanda Smith’s


A New York Times Notable Book for 2001

Amanda Smith has done a superb job of compiling, editing and annotating her grandfather’s private letters, diaries, and other papers, presented here for the first time. Hostage to Fortune provides a window on one of the most intriguing and elusive Americans of the twentieth century.”
— Michael Beschloss

Hostage to Fortune is a remarkable book . . . Amanda Smith’s beautifully written introduction and her careful, incisive, and objective annotations enhance the book’s value and readability.”
— Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Smith has done a superb job of unearthing and editing an enormous amount of material . . . It is a tribute to her skill that, in her notes and introductions to each chronological section, Smith has sketched at least the outlines of the more complex picture that is the work of biography.”
— Ronald Steel, New York Review of Books

A fine work of scholarship.”
— Washington Post

A lovely introduction that is both haunted and haunting.”
— Time

Although the cover reads ‘Edited by Amanda Smith,’ editing hardly describes what she has accomplished . . . The collection in Hostage to Fortune has been carefully chosen to show the breadth and depth of Kennedy’s activities, and Smith does not stint on including entries that show him in a negative light. She doesn’t veil, she doesn’t blink, and though her own writing is limited to the introductions and chapter openings, it is packed with information and insight, remarkably devoid of bias. The result is an extraordinary accomplishment for a scholar, let alone a relative.”
—Los Angeles Times

A goldmine for future biographers who many find the ‘founding father’ even more illustrious than his illustrious sons.”
— Baltimore Sun

[Amanda Smith’s] contribution, amplified by even-handed commentary and simply fabulous footnotes, is to let the man speak for himself. That alone makes this book an invaluable resource.”
— Barron’s

Kennedy’s granddaughter, Amanda Smith, has launched her own Lewis and Clark expedition, a frank and faithful trek through the vast ephemera of Joe’s encounters with world leaders, as well as with Babe Ruth and Harpo Marx. Kennedy enthusiasts and sober historians will find much here that will amuse and amaze.”
— Boston Globe

A unique written legacy . . . these rare first-hand accounts not only create a fascinating historical panorama but also provide a side of Kennedy never before seen as he progressed in his public and private life.”
— Indianapolis Star

“This authoritative book fills a void and is a dazzling portrait of an American original. [Amanda Smith] has done yeoman’s work discovering, compiling, and preserving this trove of materials. This volume will satisfy a thirst for documentation and fill out the histories of business, diplomacy, and politics yet to be written . . . it also fills out the biographies of his children. In all those exist . . . none captures the poignance of their young lives more than this volume.”
— Chicago Sun-Times

These documents are worth having: for the reader familiar with the Kennedy literature, they do much to fill out a portrait of a fascinating clan and a fascinating man.”
— Publishers Weekly

As a broker and motion picture producer, head of New Deal agencies and ambassador to the Court of St. James, and patriarch of a large, lively clan of future activists, Kennedy had an unusual perspective on twentieth century history, a perspective well captured by this collection.”
— Booklist

Uncluttered by secondary excuses or analysis, Hostage to Fortune opens a unique window on history.”
— Los Angeles Times Book Review

Kennedy’s letters have been brilliantly compiled and edited . . . you don’t have to be a fan of the Kennedys to get swept up in this treasure of correspondence.”
— Star Ledger (Newark)

What is enclosed on these pages is quite remarkable enough to justify the reader’s close attention: an extraordinarily vivid record . . . these letters cannot fail to deepen our understanding and, ultimately, our respect and admiration for an all-too American family.”
— Rocky Mountain News

Compelling . . . anyone with even a passing interest in the Kennedys will be spellbound by the revealing richness of the notes that passed between father and children, husband and wife.”
— Biography

Fascinating . . . the collection has the double benefit of being appealing to both scholars and general readers. Smith has done a highly admirable job of compiling these letters.”
— New York Post

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