Bobby and Ethel Kennedy's Brood: The Weight of Legacy

In the golden years, at a dinner party for the Duchess of Devonshire, Ethel Kennedy slipped in a worldly addendum to the grace she said before the meal. "And please, dear God, make Bobby buy me a bigger dining-room table." It was an understandable plea from the mistress of Hickory Hill, the Robert Kennedy family's child-beswarmed antebellum homestead in McLean, Va. After Bobby's death, Ethel was left to raise a brood of 11. Today the nine surviving R.F.K. offspring form the largest single clan among the Kennedy third generation.

The eldest child, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, 46, displayed so much moral earnestness...

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