When Ted Kennedy, who died of a brain tumour aged seventy-seven in August, first ran for the US Senate in 1962, an opponent jeered that, if Kennedy had been called Edward Moore (Ted’s middle name) rather than Edward Kennedy, his candidacy would have been a ‘joke’. The accusation was that, as brother to JFK and Bobby, all Ted had to do was turn up; his name would do the rest. Playboy, drinker, womaniser, college cheat and villain in the 1969 death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick, Ted without the Kennedy heritage would have been just one of those fruity, well-padded fellows who prop up sailing-club bars.
This is a tempting analysis. Nearly every page of this memoir is punctuated with family connections – high-born Americans make the English upper classes look absolute beginners when it comes to pulling strings. Both his parents were born into the political purple, and Kennedy has an endlessly overstated