By People Staff
January 17, 2000 12:00 PM

A Biography

by Adam Clymer

Picking up this dense portrait of the senior senator from Massachusetts, many readers would be tempted to turn straight to Chapter 12: Chappaquiddick. But that would be missing the point. Clymer, a veteran New York Times correspondent, does present a detailed account of the 1969 Martha’s Vineyard accident that left Mary Jo Kopechne dead. And the book includes key lowlights such as Kennedy’s expulsion from Harvard for cheating and the night in 1991 when he rousted two young nephews out of bed for a night of drinking that led to rape charges against one of them, William Kennedy Smith (who was later acquitted). What is remarkable is that despite these foibles and his family’s tragedies, Kennedy has emerged as one of the era’s most effective lawmakers, a champion of causes such as health care and civil rights. Though Clymer occasionally gets bogged down in minutiae, he nevertheless gives us a readable and worthy account of a flawed and fascinating politician. (Morrow, $27.50)

Bottom Line: Compelling bio of a complicated man