Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch, by Barbara A. Perry (Norton, 416 pp., $27.95)
Rose Kennedy was so often asked for advice on raising children that she risked running out of material. For years, she had held forth about the mealtime quizzes on current events, the catechism recitations, and her knack for drafting the older children to keep the younger ones in line, but by 1956, all the surviving children were grown up and she needed something fresh, because Jack was being considered for the vice-presidential spot on the Democratic ticket. People were saying that a Catholic could never become president, so Rose came up with a way to teach children about religious bigotry that would stick in young minds.
“Show them the lions at the zoo,” she wrote in an article intended for Reader’s Digest, “and explain how they consumed the early Christians — and so interest children.”