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By Chris on 07-20-09
Ethically challenged, financially brilliant
The Kennedy that emerges in this book is a brilliant businessman and a charismatic figure who had the foresight to invent new ways of structuring companies to maximize profits for himself, although in a classic case of shutting the barn door after the horses have escaped, many of these methods were later regulated out of existence, due perhaps in part to the wreckage that he left behind. Beauchamp points out that to Kennedy's way of thinking, this kind of wreckage was not his problem: if Gloria Swanson or others who trusted him did not look out for themselves, that was their fault for being too naive. The women left in the wake of his serial and incessant womanizing (as described here) were similarly at fault, in his mind, if they didn't manage to escape the charm offensive (and occasionally hands-on groping) that he continued to engage in throughout his life.
Lest this sound too negative, Beauchamp stresses Kennedy's love for his children despite absences from home that seem from this book to stretch for months at a time. Kennedy had charm, energy, intelligence, and charisma, and he could read a balance sheet like nobody's business. Ethics in business seems to have eluded him as a concept, but he had a powerful grasp of the idea of public relations. Although he used these in damaging ways (as during his isolationism in WWII), he's still a fascinating figure to read about.
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