The memoirs of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the youngest and last surviving brother of the country's most famous political siblings and for decades an eminent liberal statesman and legislator, have been acquired by an imprint of the Hachette Book Group USA.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but a publishing official with knowledge of the negotiations said Monday that the agreement was comparable to the $8 million Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton received for "Living History" and the $9 million former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will reportedly get for his planned memoir. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity, following standard industry practice.
"I've been fortunate in my life to grow up in an extraordinary family and to have a front row seat at many key events in our nation's history," Kennedy, 75, said in a statement. "I hope my reflections can contribute to a deeper understanding of many events in the history of this great country and to a more in-depth picture of an American family."
Hachette's acquisition came after a six-day auction involving nine publishers. Kennedy was represented by Washington attorney Robert Barnett, whose other clients include Clinton and Tony Blair.
The book, currently untitled and tentatively scheduled to come out in 2010, builds upon the oral history project that Kennedy has been working on through the Miller Center of the University of Virginia. The project, launched in 2004 and expected to last several years, will include interviews with the senator, family members, colleagues, journalists, foreign leaders and others.
For his memoir, Kennedy plans to use a co-author/researcher, still to be determined. A "significant" portion of the proceeds will be donated to charity, including the John F. Kennedy Library, where the senator's public and private papers will eventually be stored, according to Kennedy adviser Stephanie Cutter.
The book will be published by the Hachette imprint Twelve, founded two years ago by former Random House editor Jonathan Karp
"The senator's book is not about the money," Karp told The Associated Press. "I think it's about telling a story that only he can tell. He's both seen history and he's made history. His perspective is unique, and it would be a tremendous loss if he did not put his experiences in writing."
Karp said that he and other Hachette officials went down to Washington last fall to meet with the senator at his home, where they talked in Kennedy's study, family pictures on the walls, books by Robert Caro and David McCullough on the shelves.
"He intends to be candid," Karp said. "He's a great raconteur and he talked so articulately and disarmingly about his childhood and some of his political experiences over the years that you got the sense that this is a man capable of captivating anyone with a story."
Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat and the youngest of nine children, was first elected to the Senate in 1962, when he was voted in to fill the seat initially vacated by his older brother, John F. Kennedy, who had been elected president. Ted Kennedy was just 30 at the time, barely old enough to legally have the job, and his greatest burden was living down the taunt of his Democratic primary opponent, Edward J. McCormack: "If your name was simply Edward Moore instead of Edward Moore Kennedy, your candidacy would be a joke."
Kennedy's achievements and troubles exceeded everyone's expectations. Brothers John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated, and personal scandal — most notably a 1969 accident in which a car he drove ran off a bridge, killing passenger Mary Jo Kopechne — helped prevent Ted Kennedy from becoming president himself.
But he also emerged as one of the Senate's most accomplished and eloquent legislators, respected even by Republicans for his knowledge and hard work, and for his role in passing bills on education, wages, health care, immigration and many other issues. Last year, he was easily elected to his eighth full term and has no plans to retire, according to Cutter.
Kennedy's previous books include "My Senator and Me," a children's story, and "America Back on Track." He has been the subject of countless works and cooperated with one author, Adam Clymer, for a biography that came out in 1999.