Main Library, Community Room

Jun 4

Tue 7:00 pm - 8:15 pm

“Eileen McNamara writes with grace, elegance, and diplomacy, never making moral judgments on harsh facts.... Her fine biography of Eunice Kennedy Shriver champions the overlooked sister, who deserves as much, if not more, applause than her celebrated brothers in establishing the family’s monumental legacy.” - Kitty Kelley, The Washington Independent Review of Books

“McNamara has written a fair-minded, well-reported book. The Shriver children wisely trusted her and opened up Eunice’s papers, allowing McNamara to deliver a sensitive, nuanced portrait.”- The Washington Post

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist examines the life and times of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, arguing she left behind the Kennedy family's most profound political legacy.While Joe Kennedy was grooming his sons for the White House and the Senate, his Stanford-educated daughter Eunice was tapping her father's fortune and her brothers' political power to engineer one of the great civil rights movements of our time on behalf of millions of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Now, in Eunice, Pulitzer Prize winner Eileen McNamara finally brings Eunice Kennedy Shriver out from her brothers' shadow to show an officious, cigar-smoking, indefatigable woman of unladylike determination and deep compassion born of rage: at the medical establishment that had no answers for her sister Rosemary; at the revered but dismissive father whose vision for his family did not extend beyond his sons; and at the government that failed to deliver on America's promise of equality.Granted access to never-before-seen private papers--from the scrapbooks Eunice kept as a schoolgirl in prewar London to her thoughts on motherhood and feminism--McNamara paints a vivid portrait of a woman both ahead of her time and out of step with it: the visionary founder of the Special Olympics, a devout Catholic in a secular age, and a formidable woman whose impact on American society was longer lasting than that of any of the Kennedy men.

About Eileen McNamara: 

Eileen McNamara spent nearly thirty years as a journalist at The Boston Globe, where she won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary and was among the first to raise the alarm about clergy sexual abuse. She has won many other awards, including citations by the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation and Sigma Delta Chi, for her reporting on conditions in the women's prison in Massachusetts, the racial disparity in Boston's infant mortality rates, the abusive treatment of battered women by state judges and the juvenile justice system's approach to teenage killers.

A graduate of Barnard College and the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, she was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1988. She is now the director of the journalism program at Brandeis University. She is the author of Eunice, Breakdown, and The Parting Glass (with Eric Roth).