The Ambassador is a fascinating look at Joseph P. Kennedy's time as Ambassador in London between 1938 and 1940. Appointed by President Roosevelt, it was clear from the start that Kennedy had only his own interests at heart. As WWII approached, he remained overwhelmingly against the United States getting involved. Even when the administration moved closer and closer to helping the Allies, Kennedy railed against the situation's futility. In the end, his inability to support the British government and his continued bluntness and self-interest caused a rift not just between himself and President Roosevelt but also with British politicians who wondered what he was still doing in their country.
As I read this, I was surprised by his pro-fascist tendencies and his tendencies to view everything through the lens of economic advancement. His eldest son Joseph seemed to harbor the same views as his father. His lack of diplomatic skills and unwillingness to support his own administration's policies seemed almost incomprehensible to me. He often made statements on his own without going through the approved channels. In some ways, he reminded me of another recent pseudo-politician who either refused to follow protocols or dispensed with them when not in his own interests.
I especially enjoyed the look back at The Ambassador's early life and that of his wife. Rose seems to have been a distant mother to her nine children, which I hadn't expected to be the case. But perhaps times were different then. I found Kathleen or Kick as she was known to be a fascinating person. She managed to chart her own course, even if it didn't turn out to be as happy as she planned. All in all, this was a well-written and researched book that was enjoyable to read.
Thanks to St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.