Synopses & Reviews
Born into enormous privilege as well as burdened by gut-wrenching family tragedy, Christopher Kennedy Lawford now shares his life story, offering a rare glimpse into the private worlds of the rich and famous of both Washington politics and the Hollywood elite. A triumphantly inspiring memoir, the first from a Kennedy family member since Rose Kennedy's 1974 autobiography, Lawford's Symptoms of Withdrawal
tells the bittersweet truth about life inside America's greatest family legacy.
As the firstborn child of famed Rat Pack actor Peter Lawford and Patricia Kennedy, sister to John F. Kennedy, Christopher Kennedy Lawford grew up with presidents and movie stars as close relatives and personal friends.
Lawford recalls Marilyn Monroe teaching him to dance the twist in his living room when he was still a toddler, being awakened late at night by his uncle Jack to hear him announce his candidacy for president, being perched atop a high-roller craps table in Las Vegas while Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack swapped jokes and threw dice, and other treasured memories of his youth as part of America's royal family.
In spite of this seemingly idyllic childhood, Lawford's early life was marked by the traumatic assassinations of his beloved uncles Jack and Bobby, and he soon succumbed to the burgeoning drug scene of the 1970s during his teen years. With compelling realism mixed with equal doses of self-deprecating wit, youthful bravado, and hard-earned humility, Symptoms of Withdrawal chronicles Lawford's deep and long descent into near-fatal drug and alcohol addiction, and his subsequent formidable path back to the sobriety he has preserved for the past twenty years.
Symptoms of Withdrawal is a poignantly honest portrayal of Lawford's life as a Kennedy, a journey overflowing with hilarious insider anecdotes, heartbreaking accounts of Lawford's addictions to narcoticsas well as to celebrity and, ultimately, the redemption he found by asserting his own independence.
In this groundbreakingly courageous and exceptionally well-written memoir, Lawford steps forward to rise above the buried pain that first led to his addiction, and today lives mindfully by his time-tested mantra: "We are only as sick as the secrets we keep." Symptoms of Withdrawal keeps no secrets and is a compelling testament to the power of truth.
"[Signature] Reviewed by Sara Nelson Pity the poor shelver who has to decide where to put this book. Does it go with the wall full of Kennedyana, the tell-alls and critiques of the family America loves to hate and hates to love? Or does it go into the ever increasing 'recovery' section of the memoir department, packed as it is with tales of debauchery, and finally, painful and hard-won sobriety?Because this offering, by the 50-year-old nephew of President Kennedy, son of the late actor Peter Lawford, and cousin of the late American prince, JFK Jr. (how's that for a legacy to live with?), is both of those things, it is hard to categorize, and harder to resist. There's plenty of dish here, even if it is dish of the gentle, almost old-fashioned variety. (Lawford tells of being taught to do the twist by Marilyn Monroe; of spying, as a 10-year-old, on a former First Lady taking a bath, of partying with Kennedys and Lennons and Jaggers.) But it is also a palpably painful and moving rendition of bad behavior with women and money and drugs, and 20 years of staying sober.If you've read any recovery lit, you already know the drill: the stories of lying and charming and messing up school, jobs and relationships. There's plenty of that, but in Lawford's case, the backdrop against which he misbehaved is in itself dramatic. He writes achingly of his relationship with his cousin David, RFK's son, with whom he regularly did drugs and who died in a Palm Beach hotel room in 1984. (Lawford broke with Kennedy family tradition and named his son for David.) When he arrives high at a family party, the photographic proof turns up in the newspaper because it was a fundraiser for his uncle Teddy. If this were somebody with a less famous-for-carousing name, you might think he was just another self-dramatizing alcoholic; as it is, Lawford is clearly just recounting his life.Even so, he could come off as obnoxious were it not for his frankness, humor and self-awareness. Lawford goes out of his way to own, as they say in recovery, his behavior, and while he acknowledges a family tendency, he blames no one but himself. He can also write knowingly and self-deprecatingly about his competitive relationships with his many cousins, his vanity as an actor (he has appeared in films including The Russia House and Mr. North, as well as many television programs but is, by his own admission, no Tom Cruise), and his tendency to refer to his many female conquests as 'the most beautiful girl in the world.'So where does this book belong? Does it matter? You don't have to care about Kennedys to find this a moving tale of self-discovery and redemption. Whatever else he may have been son, nephew, cousin, etc. Christopher Lawford shows himself here to be a writer of talent and grace. 32 pages of photos. (Oct.) Sara Nelson is the Editor-in-Chief of PW." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In this autobiography filled with dozens of never-before-seen private photos, Lawford offers a deeply inspirational, candid, and explosive account of what it's really like to be a member of America's first family. Published to coincide with "The World's Fastest Indian," a major motion picture starring Lawford and Anthony Hopkins. 16-page photo insert. 30 b&w photos.
About the Author
Christopher Kennedy Lawford is the New York Times bestselling author of Symptoms of Withdrawal. He has worked extensively in Hollywood as an actor, lawyer, executive, and producer. He has three children and lives in Marina Del Rey, California.