Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  James W Graham  

Pen Name: None

Genre: History Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1956 in Joliet, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

Born in Joliet, Graham's parents moved their family to Ottawa, Illinois, during his teenage years. After earning bachelor's and master's degrees at Drake University in Iowa, Graham retured to Illinois in 1979 to work for the Illinois House of Representatives as a communications assistant, writing speeches and press releases. He later worked for Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jim Edgar, and continued to work for him when he became governor in 1991. By then Graham had moved to Chicago and then Wilmette, Illinois, where he has lived since 1991. In the late 1990s Graham went to work as a communictions consultant to corporate and not-for-profit organizations, and in 2012 went to work for Walgreens in their corporate headquarters in Deerfield.

Biographical and Professional Information

A 1978 graduate of Drake University, where he also earned a masters degree, James W Graham worked on the staff of the Illinois House of Representatives from 1979-1983. He then worked for many years for Jim Edgar, Illinois Secretary of State, and continued working for him after he was elected governor in 1990. Edgar appointed Graham a deputy director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs in the 1990s. Graham later worked as public relations consultant to major corporations and not-for-profit groups. Most recently he works for Walgreen Co. in Deerfield.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Victura: The Kennedys, a Sailboat, and the Sea
ISBN: 1611684110

ForeEdge. 2014

Winner of the Chicago Book Review's Best Books of the Year (2014)

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.



Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

Contact Graham can travel anywhere but Chicago area speaking engagements are easiest to schedule. For more information, visit