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Writer David Nasaw discusses the turbulent life of Joseph P. Kennedy

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Fifty to 60 to 70 years ago, America was more divided than today. It was divided into ethic and religious tribes. Every group had its place in this pecking order. He lived in that world, and he had to find his way in it.
Q: And transcend it?
Yeah! The reason why he's such a great character to write about, unlike other outsiders who fight to get inside, is that once he gets inside, he refuses to play by the rules.

He has such self-confidence that he's convinced he's always the smartest guy in the room, and he's not going to follow what anyone else says, not even Roosevelt.

As a result, he ends up on the outside again.
Q: What did you make of his transition that landed him in positions of power in government in the first place?
While this country has been through bad times over the last couple of years, I don't think we're even close to understanding the fears that people had during the Great Depression.

They were not simply fears that the economy was not going to get better. Among a large part of the population, there was a real concern that if the Depression was not cured, this country would go the way of Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union. People in need would abandon capitalism and abandon democracy.

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