A Common Good: The Friendship of Robert F. Kennedy and Kenneth P. O'Donnell

Helen O'Donnell, Author, David Groff, Author William Morrow & Company $26 (352p) ISBN 978-0-688-14861-4
Kenneth (Kenny) O'Donnell often appears in the background of Oval Office photographs taken during the Kennedy administration: an unsmiling figure whose nickname--his daughter writes in her biography of her father--was ""The Cobra."" O'Donnell, friends with Bobby Kennedy from their days on the Harvard football team back in 1946, was so defined by his relationship with the Kennedy family, according to his daughter, that after Bobby's assassination, both he and his wife fell into alcoholism and early death in the late 1970s. The author recalls that Bobby was her father's best friend and that after the assassination his presence hung over their house ""like a ghost."" In 1951 O'Donnell, who was born in 1924, went to work on Congressman John Kennedy's Senate campaign and was involved in every election after that. The author was six when Bobby was shot and 15 when her father died; her stories here were related to her by JFK's ""Irish Mafia,"" surviving Kennedys and tape recordings her father had made. She recreates his life totally in reference to the careers of John and Robert Kennedy, suggesting that her father had no life of his own. The main body of the book--told in the third person--is serviceable and heartfelt. What makes this account so emotionally involving are the first-person introduction and epilogue that detail the disintegration of the O'Donnell family. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Show other formats
Paperback - 438 pages - 978-1-4804-3787-6
Ebook - 438 pages - 978-1-4804-3779-1
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.