35 - John F Kennedy

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35 - John F Kennedy

Editado: Set 1, 2009, 9:57 pm

President Kennedy

1960 Election Kennedy (303 electoral votes) vs Nixon (219)

Kennedy was the first President to hold a press conference on television.
He was the first president to also be a Boy Scout.
John F. Kennedy was the first president to use the desk that was a present from Queen Victoria.
Kennedy was the first Roman Catholic president.
He was the youngest man elected president, but not our youngest president, Teddy Roosevelt was younger at the time of his inauguration.
John F. Kennedy is one of two presidents that is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
His father said "I will not pay for a landslide." during his campaign.
Kennedy was the first president born in the 20th century.
He won a Pulitzer Prize for his book "Profiles in Courage."
Kennedy was the only president to appoint their brother to a cabinet post.
C.S. Lewis, a famous writer, died on the same day that Kennedy was shot.
Kennedy was a very fast random speaker, with upwards of 350 words per minute.
His right leg was 3/4 of an inch longer than his left, so he wore corrective shoes to make up for it.
John F. Kennedy had a sister, Rosemary, who was mentally retarded.
Kennedy was the first president who had served in the U.S. Navy.
Kennedy was called Jack by his friends.
He was named after his grandfather, John F. Fitzgerald.

Dez 28, 2008, 7:25 pm

I mentioned this in the Nixon thread, too--The Making of the President 1960 is a good read.

Set 1, 2009, 8:55 pm

So far on Kennedy I have read:

President Kennedy by Richard Reeves (OUTSTANDING!)

JFK Reckless Youth by Hamilton

The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev 1960-1963 -- Beschloss

I am about half-way thru (for some time now) A Unfinished Life John Kennedy by Dallek

Jan 2, 2010, 12:34 pm

Not sure which President I should post this in so I will post in all three threads:

One of the books I got for Christmas was 1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon by David Pietrusza, focused upon the 1960 election. I started it almost immediately and basically shunted aside most of the rest of the books I have in play to focus upon it, finishing it this morning.

Let me say that Pietrusza demonstrates that a writer of history – in the tradition of Tom Holland, for example -- CAN write an exciting, very readable book for ALL audiences that contains copious (70+ pages) footnotes. I would suggest that anyone who has interest in this election, those three giants who would dominate American politics in the 1960's, or simply the American political/electoral system shortly after mid-century should read this book. More than 400 pages long, yet never for a moment tedious or dull, Pietrusza brings to life a realistic and not-too-flattering portrait of the candidates and their respective entourages in this pivotal election that was to be (with the critical addition of television debates) the dawn of modern campaigning. More than that, however, the author introduces and fleshes out the larger cast of characters – from Eisenhower to Symington to Lodge to Stevenson to Rockefeller – who dominated American politics in the fifties, and capably brings you up to speed on American politics in what was very much a transitional era.

Whether you are already widely familiar, as I am, with the intimate personalities of Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, or whether you are completely new to their bios, “1960” will suck you in and not let you go, page-by-page, from the first stirrings of the campaign to election night and beyond. Highly recommended!

Jun 28, 2011, 11:50 am

I read A Thousand Days: John F Kennedy in the White House by Arthur M. Schlesinger . It was very informative, and went into exhaustive detail on what the administration tried to accomplish. A nice insider account, although some of it was detailed to the point of being boring. Written as you would expect from someone inside the administration: as a defense of the actions of the President. You don't learn as much about Kennedy as a man though. What you do understand is how difficult it can be to be President with so many competing interests swirling about you, and in a roundabout away, Schlesinger accidentally sheds light on the fact that Kennedy did not accomplish that much as President. I'm looking forward to reading the Reeves book when I get to JFK in chronological order. My guess is that it has a better narrative structure. I bet the Dallek book is good as well.

Nov 15, 2012, 2:34 pm

An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 by Robert Dallek

Decent discussion that attempts to present the real man behind the mythology that's built up. Dallek succeeds nicely for the first half of the book (up to the 1960 campaign), then bogs down in the last 4 years over some 350 pages. Unfortunately, some of the material that would be of most interest becomes repetitive.

Nov 16, 2012, 9:37 am

6 - I agree with your review 100%. I actually put it down in the middle and then later returned to it and slogged my way through. Dallek is a noted historian, but his wroting is not nearly as compelling as say, Richard Reeves or Robery Caro. I've read about dozen books on Kennedy. Reeves President Kennedy is probably the best IMHO, although Hamilton's Reckless Youth is well worth reading also. The two books actually complement each other because they focus on very different segments of JFK's life.

Dez 18, 2012, 2:45 pm

I read Killing Kennedy. It was a summation of Kennedy'a presidency. It was a fast read and gave me a desire to read a little more in depth.

Dez 18, 2012, 8:17 pm

#8 I have considered reading it but I have such a strong antipathy for Bill O'Reilly that I can't bring myself to purchase something he wrote. It's a shame because I read almost every Kennedy book I come across ..

Editado: Mar 22, 2013, 10:38 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Mar 18, 2013, 7:54 pm

JFK belongs to an era that was truly a demarcation between the immediate post WWII period & the era we call "the sixties" -- November 1963-August 1974. He had many flaws but was after all a strong leader with a brilliant mind who saw into the core of what was wrong with American foreign policy. His death bequeathed the political landscape to his two most significant rivals, LBJ and Richard Nixon, each of whom he distrusted, each much lesser men who had serious psychological flaws that led them to wreak havoc upon the landscape of American politics in the decade to follow. A sense of this is at the heart of the brilliant 1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon by David Pietrusza, and you can see the roots of the calamity to follow in Pietrusza's masterful analysis of that election that exposes the raw truth of the deep personality imbalances of LBJ & Nixon.

Editado: Mar 19, 2013, 3:04 pm

JFK's health problems:

"From a medical standpoint, Kennedy was a mess."

These problems help explain his dishonesty, infidelity (many STDs), and dramatic mental instability.

Kennedy and his men kept these things, along with the affairs and so on, from the public. If his many illnesses had been known to the public, he probably would never have been elected, in which case he would never have been assassinated. So he was his own worst enemy. Lust for power killed him.

Power is poison.
-- Henry Adams

Editado: Mar 19, 2013, 7:04 pm


Mar 19, 2013, 7:42 pm

Just finished Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy which is a transcript of unreleased recordings from the White House years and before and contains two CD's of audio. Like everything else I have read about JFK, this remarkable collection reveals a warts-and-all great leader with a brilliant mind whose untimely end left a jagged wrong turn for America. It is impossible to conceive of the Vietnam debacle as it rolled out under LBJ & Nixon had Kennedy not gone to Dallas.

I highly recommend this book for a very personal look at a remarkable man.

Mar 19, 2013, 8:32 pm

Fortunately, Nixon was a peacemaker and ended the Vietnam War which both LBJ and JFK were incapable of doing. See my posts in the Nixon thread.

Fev 23, 2014, 9:28 am

A Question of Character, A Life of John F. Kennedy by Thomas C. Reeves
I don't recommend this as a "must read", but the style is quite readable and fairly easy to digest. The author's discussions on the happenings of the time could be considered "revealing" but I rather think that they are available in all sorts of sources, most of which would be dispassionate statements of fact. In this book, Mr Reeves gives his opinions and shares the opinions of others too. That made the book interesting for me. When lives are presented in this way, with author comment, they have to be treated with some scepticism and several sources should be read to get a better balanced truth. I'll keep it in my collection.

Maio 17, 2017, 4:36 pm

40. An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963 by Robert Dallek.

Dallek was granted unrestricted access to key Kennedy papers, including medical papers. This biography starts out describing his grandparents to show the influence they had on his political career. How his father orchestrated his political career and influenced his private life in the example he set of womanizing. Describes how his father literally bought the presidency for Kennedy by pouring millions into key states. He also details Kennedy's medical issues with Addison's disease and well-known back problems. He describes all the pain medication he took daily and shots just to keep him going. His match with Khrushchev over Cuba, his indecision over Vietnam, civil rights issues vs. political standing, all led him to really have a less than stellar presidency in my eyes.

Jul 16, 2017, 2:22 pm

After a 6 month slog, I final finished reading An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963 by Robert Dallek. The book has lots of dreary detail but oddly not much detail on his personal life. I think much of his popularity derives from his personal life, exploits and rich family. Reading about his political career, I don't see anything that makes him an outstanding president. He did some good things (Cuban missile crisis) and some bad (Bay of Pigs invasion). Until his Daddy bought him the presidency, his political career was more than underwhelming. I will probably read another Kennedy bio just to see if Dallek's writing style colored my view of Kennedy.

Fev 8, 2020, 9:22 pm

Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero
by Chris Matthews

In my reading of Presidential biographies, I tend to gravitate towards the larger tomes. I want to get a broad picture of the zeitgeist of the day, and I figure that in a smaller biography, those details would be the first to be edited out. This time, however, I broke pattern and went with a book that was barely over 400 pages. Mr. Matthews didn't fail me. He paints a full picture of John Kennedy and the times he lived in. Based mostly on interviews with Kennedy's friends and co-workers, Mr. Matthews tells the story of the rich boy who struggled with ill health and grew up in the shadow of his older brother. Service in World War II helped shape him, and after the war he turned his attention to politics, creating his own style of campaigning. As I read the book, I got a better understanding of Kennedy's charisma and appeal. Growing up in the wake of the Kennedy assassination, I sometimes wondered if his legacy in our culture was simply the response to his untimely death. This book shows that John Kennedy did indeed help shape American culture, even as he wrestled with the events of the day.

Fev 19, 2020, 4:42 pm

I read a different book about Kennedy, I wonder if he would have been President if it wasn't for his overbearing father. Yes, I think his assassination created an image that was bigger than what it was. I was in 2nd grade when he was assassinated and I remember the adults around me reacting so strongly to his death.

Editado: Jul 26, 2021, 10:24 pm

I finished Jack and Jackie which takes a look at their relationship. Every time I think the world has blasted out all the details of their lives I find out something new. Very readable and enlightening.