Patrick and Bridget Kennedy arrived in the United States following the Great Famine — penniless and hungry. Less than a decade after their marriage in Boston, Patrick’s sudden death left Bridget to raise their children single-handedly.
Her rise from housemaid to shop owner in the face of rampant poverty and discrimination kept her family intact, allowing her only son P. J. to become the first American Kennedy elected to public office — the first of many.
Based on genealogical breakthroughs and previously unreleased records, including first-ever access to P. J. Kennedy’s private papers, Neal Thompson’s The First Kennedys: The Humble Roots of an American Dynasty (Mariner Books, 2022) explores the story of the poor Irish refugee couple who escaped famine, created a life together in a city hostile to Irish, immigrants, and Catholics, and launched the Kennedy dynasty in America.
Neal Thompson is a journalist and the author of six books, including A Curious Man, Driving with the Devil, and Kickflip Boys.
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