The Kennedy family has so often been likened to the House of Atreus in Greek mythology that the comparison has become something of a cliché. But reading this absorbing, first-rate and scholarly study of the founding father, Joseph Kennedy, makes one realise how apt the analogy is. Atreus originally brought down the curse by killing the sons of Thyestes and serving them up to his father in the original Thyestian feast, while Agamemnon, Atreus’s son, later prolonged the anathema by sacrificing his own daughter Iphigenia. Joseph Kennedy too would cruelly sacrifice a daughter, but the original curse he called down on his family (son Joe killed in the Second World War, John the president assassinated, ditto Bobby, daughter Kathleen killed in a plane crash, daughter Rosemary lobotomised and institutionalised) was surely the result of his own evil (not too strong a word) actions.
Joseph Kennedy (1888–1969) was one of the most disgusting apologies for a human being ever to walk this planet. The original man who knew the price of everything and the value of nothing, he lied, cheated and bamboozled his way through a spectacular business career, taking advantage of