cover image When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys

When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys

Thomas Maier. Crown, $30 (784p) ISBN 978-0-307-95679-8

Torches pass from fathers to sons—and sometimes get dropped—in this sprawling saga of two political dynasties. Journalist Maier (Masters of Sex) surveys the tangled relationships between Winston Churchill, Joseph P. Kennedy, and their respective children. During the 1930s and the WWII era, Churchill, a combative foe of Hitler, and Kennedy, the isolationist and mildly pro-German (and anti-Semitic) American ambassador to Britain, clashed over policy towards the Nazis and the looming war. By the 1960s, however, Kennedy’s son John F. Kennedy revived Churchillian themes in his Cold War policies and rhetoric towards the Soviets. The wrangle between the shady, Machiavellian Kennedy père and the bluff, stentorian Churchill (with a manipulative Franklin Roosevelt stirring the pot) extends to their parental styles; Maier juxtaposes Kennedy’s stern molding of his sons into effective political operators with Churchill’s muddled relationship with his son Randolph, a promising youth who became a wastrel. Much of the book is a gossipy, entertaining, but unfocused panorama of the glittering social world of wealthy, powerful, aristocrats—it is full of wartime adventure, romance, and innumerable adulteries. Maier vivid profiles of these charismatic figures makes for a nuanced study. 16-page b&w photo insert. [em](Nov.) [/em]