“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
The 1960 presidential election was the first one I remember. This book is an excellent biography of John F. Kennedy -- full of information I did not know. For example, I had no idea how sickly he was as a child and how many times he almost died from illness. Wonderful poliltical analysis. His early friendhip with Richard Nixon was unexpected as well. I highly recommend this book -- very well done.
First time listener to his books.
Fast spaced, but accents were fake and some were ridiculous sounding.
I should have known that Matthwes was too awed by his subject to write an honest biography. He could not help editing out the unpleasant side of his subject. Much information was left out to protect Kennedy. For example, it would have been interesting to learn more about the serious disagreement betweeen Kennedy and his co-author, Ted Anderson, over the authorship of Kennedy's famous book during his illness when he was still a senator. I am glad Matthews didn't go into the womanizing--we've all hard enough about that.
The author makes no bones about being a JFK fan and does a fine job explaining why.
Kathleen in FL
While I thought everything that could be written about JFK was already in the library, I was really pleased by this book. I saw JFK when I was an 8th grader in Lancaster, Pa. during his tour of the state during the campaign and I have been his fan ever since.
The honesty of this book was remarkable and it held my attention throughout. The narration was excellent. And I particularly enjoyed Matthew's narration of the prologue.
I recommend this book with hesitation.
I read a lot and on most any subject!
Very interesting book that provides details on President Kennedy's life that I had never known. As with other books I've read on the Kennedy brothers, I am always struck at how they never had to work but yet had plenty of money for multiple homes and lavish travel.
In this book, I wondered what the outspoken Matthews would have written had some of the things he so warmly and nicely wrote about Kennedy (e.g. breaking the law to file for his congressional election, continually running around on Jackie, getting drunk while in the White House, remaining out of the country while Jackie miscarried) had been done by a conservative like Reagan?
I guess we live in a different age now when things like drinking, smoking, sex, and all parts of one's private life are open for public scrutiny. I preferred the old system JFK and others operated in when reporters and the public respected one's private life.
great presidential history
His service during WWII
Easy to listen to and understand.
I laughed at President Kennedy's sense of humor; and I cried at the intense pain he experienced every day of his life.
I think that this is the most comprehensive book ever written about Presiident John Kennedy. I now understand not only him, but what his wife must have suffered during their marriage. It is very difficult watching helplessly as a loved one suffers in pain. I now understand the good cop bad cop he and Bobby played during his time in the White House. Although I was young during his presidency, I still remember the thrill and excitement that his election brought to my family and the world.
Chris Matthews has pealed away the layers og the private Jack Kennedy and through first hand accounts has given us a new understanding of a man we thought we knew. I was intrigued and surprised at the same time.
An real feel for each of the players.
The senatorial campaign
Chris Matthew this is a home run!!! Can't put it down!!!
I enjoy audio books especially at night. I like to listen to a variety of books...the latest I listened to was Behind Closed Doors.
Chris Mathews reads the forward and Holter Graham takes us on another wonderful piece of History with our beloved president. It's always amazes me with all the stories written there is something new you will learn...a must audio book!!!
Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!
Jack was such a powerful man with MANY secrets. This book skims the surface of SOME of those secrets, but doesn't go into any great detail. I'm not even a Jack historian, and I knew 80% of what was in here. However, the book DID shed light on just how sick and (practically) paralyzed Jack was, for most of his life. That was somewhat interesting, but certainly not worth buying the book for. In fact, a more accurate title for this book would be: "Jack Kennedy had a terrible back since childhood, and crazy colored skin". If you feel like reading a book with THAT title, then buy this book.
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