In December 1937, Joseph Patrick Kennedy—father of the future president—became the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s in London. An unlikely diplomat, known for his “plainspoken” opinions, a chip on his shoulder that weighed him down, his profound Irish roots, and his staunch Catholicism, Kennedy was an unusual choice of ambassador as Great Britain hurtled toward war. Kennedy had been America’s youngest bank president, an unscrupulous Wall Street trader, a Hollywood distributor and producer, a company director, and a financier brought in to restructure ailing film companies.
Roosevelt had named Kennedy as the first Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission to revamp how bonds and securities were traded on Wall Street, then after a short hiatus, coerced Kennedy into becoming the Chairman of the Maritime Commission. But Kennedy never stuck at any of these jobs for long, and there was certainly not a whiff of the diplomatic about him. Loved initially by the British, in just two short years, he was loathed at the White House, the State Department and the British Government. What could Roosevelt have been thinking? Many have asked.
Roosevelt was perhaps one of the shrewdest political minds of the era, and a giant on the world stage. Kennedy believed he was the president’s equal. THE AMBASSADOR is about Kennedy’s dreams; relationships in the U.K., the Vatican, and back home; his aspirations for the presidency for himself and his sons; his tribe of nine children whom he called “Hostage to Fortune;” and his extremely difficult relationship with the only U.S. president to serve four terms.