Since his death last month, thousands of experts and nonexperts have written about the life of the late Sen.Ted Kennedy. But now, thanks to his autobiography, "True Compass," the "liberal lion" of the Senate can share his own story.
Written in the last five years of his life, "True Compass" goes inside the Kennedy family to reveal the successes, challenges and scandals of one of America's most iconic families.
Read an excerpt of the book below and then click here to find more great reads at the "GMA" Books page.
It was on the sunny spring day of Tuesday, May 20, 2008, that I emerged from a medicated drowsiness in a Boston hospital bed and looked up into the face of a doctor who explained to me in a somber way that I was about to die, and that I had best begin getting my affairs in order and preparing my friends and family for the end.
As I lay in that hospital bed, my friends and neighbors on Cape Cod were just then getting their boats ready for the summer cruises and races. I intended to be among them, as usual. The Boston Red Sox were a good bet to defend their world championship. There was a presidential primary campaign in progress. My Senate colleagues were pushing forward on our legislative agenda. I had work to do. No. As much as I respect the medical profession, my demise did not fit into my plans.
I was hardly "in denial" that I faced a grave and shocking threat to my life. The first symptoms of what would prove to be a malignant brain tumor had struck me three days earlier. They'd descended on me as I padded toward the kitchen of the Hyannis Port house that has been the center of my life and happiness for most of my seventy-six years. I was intent on nothing more than taking Sunny and Splash, my much-loved Portuguese water dogs, for their morning walk. My wife, Vicki, and I had just been chatting and having our morning coffee in the sunroom.
Life seemed especially good at that moment. The sixteen years of my marriage to Vicki had been good ones. Her acute understanding and love of me had made her my indispensable partner in my life. We shared countless joyful hours aboard my antique wooden schooner Mya, including nights of sailing along the coast, guided by the stars. Vicki had given me such a sense of stability and tranquillity that I had almost begun to think of life in those terms—stable and tranquil. But never boring. Certainly not with this funny, passionate, fiercely loyal, and loving woman.
Vicki and I had enjoyed an especially exhilarating winter and early spring. On January 27, thrilled and inspired by Barack Obama and the hope he embodied, I took the podium at American University in Washington to endorse his quest for the presidency. The best hopes of the past and present converged around me. My niece Caroline Kennedy stood at my back, alongside my own son Patrick and the candidate himself. The crowd roared its approval for my message. And I felt myself lifted—with a renewed optimism for my country, and by the unexpected notes of an old bugle, calling me once again to the campaign trail. Other years, other hustings, other adventures swept out of the past. "It is time again for a new generation of leadership," I declared to the cheering crowd in front of us, as another voice echoed down the corridors of my memory: Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans . . .