In December 1937, Joseph Patrick Kennedy—father of the future president—announced through the New York Times that he would be the next U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s in London. He had temporarily outwitted President Roosevelt, but at what cost? Kennedy was finally sworn in as ambassador on February 18, 1938 and officially remained in his post to Great Britain until January 11, 1941. An unlikely diplomat, known for his “plainspoken” opinions, rough charm, womanizing, family values, profound Irish roots, and staunch Catholicism, Kennedy was an unusual choice of ambassador as Great Britain and Europe hurtled toward war. Kennedy had been America’s youngest bank president, an unscrupulous Wall Street trader, a Hollywood film distributor and producer, and a financier brought in to restructure ailing film companies, earning him many millions, and all before he was forty-five.
Kennedy’s public service career began in 1932. In 1934, Roosevelt named Kennedy as the first Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission to stop fraudulent trading of securities on Wall Street. After a short hiatus, the president then coerced Kennedy into becoming the first Chairman of the Maritime Commission. But Kennedy’s active mind and constant not-to-be-denied-pursuit-of-wealth meant that he never stuck at any of these jobs for long. But a diplomat? What could Roosevelt have been thinking, many have asked. Incredibly, Kennedy was loved initially by the British. Even so, in just two short years, he was loathed at the White House, the State Department and almost everyone in the British Government.
Roosevelt made the political weather in the United States and was perhaps one of the shrewdest political minds of the era. That said, Kennedy believed he was the president’s equal. THE AMBASSADOR is about Kennedy’s dreams and relationships with FDR and the State Department, the British Government and the Vatican. It is about Kennedy’s rise to his highest achieved office, and how his tremendous ego and unfettered ambition to make the name of “Kennedy” greater than “Adams” caused his tribe of nine children to become “Hostage to Fortune.”