Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Authors take advantage of 50th anniversary of JFK's passing

There have been a slew of books released recently in advance of the 50th anniversary of the passing of President John F. Kennedy.

Such authors include Thurston Clarke, Larry Sabato, and Robert Dallek.

Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (October 8, 2013

Camelot's Court: Inside the Kennedy White House comes from Robert Dallek.  Dallek previously authored An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, so he's no stranger to the late president.  Dallek has been referred to as "Kennedy's leading biographer."  Dallek decided to revisit the Kennedy White House after a 2010 Gallup poll saw Americans give Kennedy an 85 percent approval rating.  What Dallek does is look at Jack Kennedy's inner circle and brain trust such as Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, and trusted aides Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger.

It was trusted friends such as these that helped Kennedy make those crucial decisions--some may have been misjudgements but others were success.

Dallek meticulously researched to write this masterfully written book to give us a tour of a tumultuous White House and a new portrait of the people that helped shape the Kennedy legacy.

Hardcover: 624 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (October 15, 2013)

Larry Sabato brings us The Kennedy Half Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy. Sabato takes the time to explore Kennedy's powerful influence over the last five decades on the media, the general public, but also on the nine successors in the Oval Office.

Sabato uses unseen information in which he received unique access in order to reexamine the assassination of the former president--and goes on ti document the extraordinary effect that it had on Americans of modern generations.  Sabato shows how the JFK years has influenced every president--and often in surprising ways.

What puts this book apart from the hundreds out there is that there is rich insight and original perspective.  People that read it will appreciate the profound impact of the Kennedy years on the national psyche in new ways.

Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (July 16, 2013)

This summer saw the release of Thurston Clarke's new book, JFK's Last Hundred Days: The Transformation of a Man and the Emergence of a Great President.  What Clarke argues is the "what might have been" aspect of Kennedy's administration.  During this time, Kennedy was undergoing great change as a person and a leader.  Unfortunately for us, we'll never know how things would have really turned out.

Clarke goes moment-by-moment as he looks back on the final 100 days of Kennedy's life.  Clarke gives us the big mystery of who JFK was when he was shot and killed as well as where Kennedy was taking the nation.

The 100 days begin with the death of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy on August 9, 1963.  The 100 days also saw the March on Washington at the end of August.  It was after the March that JFK appreciated MLK's influence and came to realize that civil rights was not just a moral issue but a political issue as well.  Until this moment, there had been a wariness and distance between the administration and Civil Rights leaders.  It was possible that the Cold War could have ended in the 1960s rather than stretch to the fall of the Berlin Wall in the 1980s.  The Vietnam conflict could have came to an end much sooner--Kennedy had demanded an end to the escalation in American involvement and wanted a troops withdrawal to 16,000 troops by 1965.

Clarke's book is the first account that weaves both Kennedy's private life with his public life in one single volume.  It not only answers what might have been but why Americans have grieved his passing for so long.


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