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The Kennedys, a Sailboat, and the Sea
James W. Graham

2014 • 284 pp. 28 illus. 6 x 9"
Biography - Political / 20th Century U.S. History / Biography - Rich & Famous

$19.95 Paperback, 978-1-61168-865-8
$17.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-599-2

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

Victura is more than Graham recounting the sailing experiences of the Kennedys. In this well-researched but warmly written book, Graham sometimes goes several pages describing an election, or a... [continued in Reviews below]”—Sailing

How one small sailboat taught the Kennedys about life, family, leadership, and winning

To truly understand the dynamics and magic of the Kennedy family, one must understand their passion for sailing and the sea. Many families sail together, but the Kennedys’ relationship with Victura, the 25-foot sloop purchased in 1932, stands apart. Throughout their brief lives, Joe Jr., Jack, and Bobby spent many hours racing Victura. Lack of effort in a race by one of his sons could infuriate Joseph P. Kennedy, and Joe Jr. and Jack ranked among the best collegiate sailors in New England. Likewise, Eunice emerged as a gifted sailor and fierce competitor, the equal of any of her brothers.

The Kennedys believed that Jack’s experience sailing Victura helped him survive the sinking of his PT boat during World War II. In the 1950s, glossy Life magazine photos of Jack and Jackie on Victura’s bow helped define the winning Kennedy brand. Jack doodled sketches of Victura during Oval Office meetings, and it’s probable that his love of seafaring played a role in his 1961 decision to put a man on the moon, an enterprise he referred to as “spacefaring.”

Ted loved Victura as much as any of his siblings did and, with his own children and the children of his lost brothers as crew, he sailed into his old age: past the shoals of an ebbing career, and into his eventual role as the “Lion of the Senate.” In Victura, James W. Graham charts the progress of America’s signature twentieth-century family dynasty in a narrative both stunningly original and deeply gripping. This true tale of one small sailboat is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the great story of the Kennedys.

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Reviews / Endorsements

Victura is more than Graham recounting the sailing experiences of the Kennedys. In this well-researched but warmly written book, Graham sometimes goes several pages describing an election, or a Kennedy family intrigue, and then gracefully brings the story back to the sea, showing how, in the best and worst of times, the family pulled together around sailing.”—Sailing

“Graham deftly moves among family history, political history, and sailing lore to present a compelling story that is at times exciting, heartbreaking, and fascinating.”—Chicago Book Review

"Say what you will about the Kennedys — and you will — they know their way around a boat. James W. Graham gives a behind-the-mast look at the connection in his new tome, Victura: The Kennedys, a Sailboat, and the Sea." —Boston Herald

“For readers, this book may serve as an introduction to the world of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, his family, and the beautiful blue sailboat at the center of it all.” —Wooden Boat

“In chronicling their exploits on the water, this book provides a fresh perspective on the famous clan. The Kennedys are a unique family, but their generational connection to the sea is one that many readers will find familiar.”—
Mystic Seaport Magazine

"The little ship Victura became part of the Kennedy family in 1932, and for five decades, it remained the brightest star in the ever-growing Kennedy fleet. Pictures of the vast Kennedy clan sailing off Hyannis Port, Mass., secured the Kennedy family brand in the media—adventurous, wholesome, vigorous, all in the same boat. In Victura: The Kennedys, a Sailboat, and the Sea, author James W. Graham proposes that sailing defined the family who defined America. Victura tells the stories of Joe Jr., Jack, Bobby, and Ted, along with their sisters, wives, political offices, and children. It tacks through their glamorous successes and heartbreaking defeats, always with the sea as a background. Opening with Tennyson and closing with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Graham’s poetic nod to Victura and the Kennedys—embracing all of Camelot’s triumphs and tragedies—is a love story of life."—Practical Sailor

“This is the story of politics, sailing, and a famous U.S. family. It’s a real sail through history.”—
Ontario Sailor

Victura is a carefully and extensively researched work written in a warm, sensitive voice, clearly friendly to the Kennedys, but at the same time shining a light in the darker corners of their complicated lives. . . . Victura is a celebration of the Kennedy spirit that derives from traditions that continue to this day in Hyannis Port.”—Points East

“This wonderfully-written book takes a well-worn subject—the Kennedys—and gives it as fresh a gust as the sailors on the sturdy, little Victura themselves must have felt a thousand times off the Nantucket shore. In going to sea on board the Victura, Joe, Jack, Bobby, and Teddy Kennedy entered their metaphor of quest, braced themselves for the unknown, and left their country, in the end, with an imperishable poignancy in its heart.” —Richard D. Mahoney, author of Sons & Brothers

“The Kennedys saw the world and nature as a magical place, full of mystery and adventure. They especially enjoyed challenges and the freedom of activities like sailing, skiing, river running, climbing and just being outside. Two thirds of the surface of planet earth is liquid: the sea is vital to life—a huge source of both pleasure and fear—and a great teacher. Victura, a small wooden sailboat, became the center of adventure, companionship and love for this remarkable family. Author Graham knows the sea, sailing and the Kennedys. Sail on Victura, to new horizons.”—Jim Whittaker, first American to summit Mount Everest and author of Life On The Edge.


New England Book Festival (2014) Commendation
Winner of the Chicago Book Review's Best Books of the Year (2014)

JAMES W. GRAHAM was a senior advisor to former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar and the Illinois House of Representatives. He races and cruises his sailboat, Venturous, at Wilmette Harbor, north of Chicago.

Thu, 14 Mar 2019 13:07:56 -0500