Joe Kennedy: Not a Bootlegger or a Nazi, But a Hardcore Non-Interventionist

Q&A with David Nasaw, author of "The Patriarch"


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"He's Zelig, he's everywhere—from World War I to World War II to the Cold War to the New Frontier," says David Nasaw, author of the The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy. "If you look at the world the way [Kennedy] looks at it, your understanding of 20th Century American history is enormously expanded."

Nasaw, a professor of history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, spoke with Reason TV's Nick Gillespie about his best-selling biography of the father of JFK, RFK, and Teddy Kennedy. Nasaw argues that Kennedy, who served as the American ambassador to Great Britain during World War II, was never pro-Nazi but was consistently against military intervention even during the Cold War. And to the disappointment of Kennedy haters everywhere, Nasaw debunks the myth that Joe made a fortune via bootlegging during Prohibition. In fact, those stories about Kennedy Sr., who passed multiple security checks by the FBI while serving multiple presidents, only surfaced in the late '60s when JFK assassination buffs tried to tie the family to the mob.

About 8 minutes.

Produced by Anthony L. Fisher. Camera by Jim Epstein and Fisher.

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