“What was he like?”
Jack Kennedy said the reason people read biographies is to answer that basic question. With the verve of a novelist, Chris Matthews gives us just that. We see this most beloved president in the company of friends. We see and feel him close-up, having fun and giving off that restlessness of his. We watch him navigate his life from privileged, rebellious youth to gutsy American president. We witness his bravery in war and selfless rescue of his PT boat crew. We watch JFK as a young politician learning to play hardball and watch him grow into the leader who averts a nuclear war.
What was he like, this person whose own wife called him “that elusive, unforgettable man”? The Jack Kennedy you discover here wanted never to be alone, never to be bored. He loved courage, hated war, lived each day as if it were his last.
Chris Matthews’ extraordinary biography is based on personal interviews with those closest to JFK, oral histories by top political aide Kenneth O’Donnell and others, documents from his years as a student at Choate, and notes from Jacqueline Kennedy’s first interview after Dallas. You’ll learn the origins of his inaugural call to “Ask what you can do for your country.” You’ll discover his role in the genesis of the Peace Corps, his stand on civil rights, his push to put a man on the moon, his ban on nuclear-arms testing. You’ll get, more than ever before, to the root of the man, including the unsettling aspects of his personal life.
As Matthews writes, “I found a fighting prince never free of pain, never far from trouble, never accepting the world he found, never wanting to be his father’s son. He was a far greater hero than he ever wished us to know.”
©2011 Chris Matthews (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
I'm not sure as the narration by Holter Graham was so poor as to be distracting. As someone who was a young adult when Jack Kennedy was President, I found Mr. Graham's attempts to react JFK's accent surprisingly off the mark. (Unlike Craig Wasson's rendition of JFK in 11.22.63 which was uncannily accurate!) Names of important people of the time were also improperly pronounced which is inexcusable for a narrator..
Mathews did his homework and gave the listener an in-depth sense of who JFK was--his strengths and weaknesses and made it very interesting. JFK came more to life as a deeply troubled and gifted man--more than anything I had ever read before.
Privileged son, chronically sick body, war hero, award winning author, congressman, senator and president are some of the defining elements that built the leader Kennedy came to be. A ruthless politician and legendary womanizer as well. In spite of his shortcommings, Kennedy had a unique skillset that made him a key reason for the US ability to survive the cold war, survive standoffs with communism in our backyard of Cuba, as well as spread his ambitions and wings to inspire the country to reach for the moon. Matthew'ÂÂs book is a great read on a very inspiring leader with all the character flaws on full display as well
A Must Read
New Information on the difficulty of an Irish Catholic becoming President in that period of US History
He has just the right amount of Mass accent to bring the book alive
Yes. new information presented very well.
His poor treatment of his wife..while I can see his aspirations and growth away so that a second Cuban Missile Crisis never happened, he never got it right at home, and home is the foundation of the family.
His big wins in WI and WV where Jackie is virtually ignored.
Neither. Nothing funny about brains on a trunk of a car.
Good stories about the WW2 JFK. He DID do these things, he did not have to.
His book While England Slept had it right.
Profiles in Courage whether he or Francis Bacon wrote it, gets it right, also.
As a physician, I cannot see that he would have lived out a second term.
I think he knew he had limited time. Using Marilyn Monroe for some of it was just bad for his family, not for him.
Chris Matthews has produced in Jack Kennedy a general overview of the President’s life, a broad stroke portrait of the man. The book is okay for what it is. Young people, for example, who did not live through Camelot may be superficially informed. Those looking for a true biography will be disappointed. Matthews is not the historian that – say - Robert Caro is (who is a well known and recognized Presidential biographer). The biographical detail needed is not present and the necessary, in depth, historical research is not evident. For me, the book reads as though Matthews is an admirer of JFK and wrote a short book to please the family and other admirers. He has a nice little book, but has not done JFK justice. The reading of Holter Graham is good.
I would recommend the book, it took a different view on history. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Chris Matthews perspective.
More than just hype
I heard a different side of JFK, the book was well done and an easy listen for the car.
Despite over a thousand attempts, Matthews brings back Jack Kennedy's short life in stunning detail and with overwhelming empathetic appeal.
I urge you to research Lem Billings - always there for Jack - the most mysterious man in Jack's past..
Graham took on and succeeded in bringing to life countless figures in John Kennedy's life.
Most motivating was Kennedy's ability to mask tortuously crippling pain for the benefit of a far greater good.
Despite the ever present trauma of death befelt by Kennedys, the solace of healing humor was never far away.
TOO political, not enough meat
I can't say, I don't read that many political books
He did the dialects well and I felt like he knew the era very well, as well as the president!
No - and NO WAY could I do that.
I enjoyed learning the history very much! I just wish there was more detail about the LIFE of the Kennedy's and not SO much politics!!! That got rather draining! I wanted to leave it, but hoped that right around the corner I would get more 'juice'....never did.
in the traditional sense. Yes this told a different viewpoint, but this is mostly an attempt to give a picture of his character, and there is little on objective history, events, and I found it to be pretty boring and also a condemnation of the very character Matthews seems to love so much...he is basically a ruthless politician who bought his way to the presidency. I guess thats the reality of politics.
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