True Compass: Kennedy's Life in Modest Terms

'Heartfelt' memoir depicts pursuit of public good, atonement
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2009 2:25 PM CDT
In this book cover image released by Twelve Publishing, "True Compass," by Edward M. Kennedy, is shown.   (AP Photo/Twelve Publishing)

(Newser) – In True Compass, Ted Kennedy’s memoir, he writes with “searching candor” about the personal losses he endured, the mistakes he made, and the struggle to live up to his family reputation, writes Michiko Kakutani for the New York Times. The result is a powerful tribute to perseverance and the satisfaction that can be gained from slow, steady work in “pursuit of a cause” or “atonement for one’s failures.”

True Compass contains interesting political reflections, but the personal stories truly stand out. Kennedy deftly imparts a sense of his “privileged but pressured” childhood; the sense of life as a “constant state of catching up” to his brothers. He describes his trials without Shakespearean or Arthurian pretense, instead conveying the “profoundly ordinary, human dimensions” of his extraordinary experiences.