The First Kennedys by Neal Thompson

A deeply researched and well-written account of the first American Kennedy that is accessible to lovers of history and period literature.

“A generation of Bridgets chose to take a chance on a new dawn rather than wait for marriage in an ancient land run by church and queen.”

~ Neal Thompson,The First Kennedys

Neal Thompson blends journalistic research with literary finesse in this captivating examination at the humble beginnings of the first American Kennedy, and the events that set her on a journey. It was a journey of hardship that revealed her determination and resilience to make a life for herself and her children.

Thompson tells the tale of Bridget Murphy’s transformation from a young farm to city girl, living in Ireland, to a successful businesswoman, who set the stage for her son Patrick to become the first Kennedy politician.

In 1848, twenty-something Bridget escaped the Great Irish Potato Famine and the English oppressors in search of a better life in America. It was a life that was the stuff of fairytales, as revealed in one Irish immigrant’s letter home. He described his first moments on American soil:  “Dire poverty was to be seen all round . . .horrible tenements with ragged, hungry looking dirty children. . . Thinks I to myself, “Is this the great country of peace and plenty? This is America?” 

Besides infusing insight and inspiration into this story about Bridget’s resilience and perseverance, Thompson sheds light on the refugee and immigrant experience. He eradicates any romanticized notions with details of prejudice and adverse conditions faced in the new land of opportunity, if they even survived the horrific weeks long crossing to America.

Thompson’s research and evocative writing explains global events while conveying the dramatic and palpable austerity and adversity faced by the individuals portrayed. 

This enlightening, stirring, and relevant book will resonate with lovers of biographies and period literature alike.


If The First Kennedys interests you, check out:

Travels with George by Nathaniel Philbrick

Disclaimer. I was provided a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.