• by Kate Clifford Larson
  • Narrated by Bernadette Dunne
  • 7 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

They were the most prominent American family of the 20th 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 to life 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 20s. Finally, Larson illuminates Joe's decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age 23 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 20 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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


This was absolutely heartbreaking. Joseph Kennedy, Sr. should be ashamed of himself what he did to a beautiful daughter out of greed, politics, and VANITY. Jean Kennedy is the last surviving child of Joe and Rose Kennedy. This is a family full of secrets. What a waste, what a miserable existence this family has most often times brought upon themselves. This book only strengthened my beliefs about how horrible a person Joseph Kennedy, Sr. was. This legacy follows them all to this day. How very sad -- How very shameful.

Good book well worth a listen. A little bit of history explains a lot.
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- Brian "Say something about yourself!"

More of a Chronology than a Biography

80% of the book seemed to just list the doctor or school or other institution Rosemary went to by each year. Or where the family lived, went to school, etc.

It seemed as though the author had no significant research or knowledge on the subject, but rather was reading from an Encyclopedia.

The story wasn't uninteresting, but I wasn't left of a real sense of who Rosemary or any other Kennedy was. The book seemed distant and no real connection was made

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- Libby Cullins

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-06-2015
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.