A revelatory, minute-by-minute account of JFK’s last100 days that asks what might have been...
Fifty years after his death, President John F. Kennedy’s legend endures. Noted author and historian Thurston Clarke argues that the heart of that legend is what might have been. As we approach the anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, JFK’s Last Hundred Days reexamines the last months of the president’s life to show a man in the midst of great change, finally on the cusp of making good on his extraordinary promise.
Kennedy’s last 100 days began just after the death of two-day-old Patrick Kennedy, and during this time, the president made strides in the Cold War, civil rights, Vietnam, and his personal life. While Jackie was recuperating, the premature infant and his father were flown to Boston for Patrick’s treatment. Kennedy was holding his son’s hand when Patrick died on August 9, 1963. The loss of his son convinced Kennedy to work harder as a husband and father, and there is ample evidence that he suspended his notorious philandering during these last months of his life.
Also in these months Kennedy finally came to view civil rights as a moral as well as a political issue, and after the March on Washington, he appreciated the power of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., for the first time.
Though he is often depicted as a devout cold warrior, Kennedy pushed through his proudest legislative achievement in this period, the Limited Test Ban Treaty. This success, combined with his warming relations with Nikita Khrushchev in the wake of the Cuban missile crisis, led to a détente that British foreign secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home hailed as the "beginning of the end of the Cold War".
Throughout his presidency, Kennedy challenged demands from his advisers and the Pentagon to escalate America’s involvement in Vietnam. Kennedy began a reappraisal in the last 100 days that would have led to the withdrawal of all 16,000 U.S. military advisers by 1965.
JFK’s Last Hundred Days is a gripping account that weaves together Kennedy’s public and private lives, explains why the grief following his assassination has endured so long, and solves the most tantalizing Kennedy mystery of all - not who killed him but who he was when he was killed, and where he would have led us.
©2013 Thurston Clarke (P)2013 Penguin Audio
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First time author, this book was recommended to me by several people. We all have moments in our lives where we remember exactly where we were when we heard some momentous news. JFK's death was one of those times for me. I was 12 years old in 6th grade and it was lunch time. One of the teachers came by some of us standing outside the school building and said that the president had been shot. We all went back into the classroom. The 5th grade from across the hall came in and shared our seats while our teacher, Mrs. Kessler, put the radio on. We were all sitting there when the announcer came on and said the president was dead. There was a lot going on in the US and world during JFK's last 100 days and the author delves into his life in great detail going over it almost day by day. it started with his second son, Patrick, passing after being alive just a few days. There was a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Civil Rights Bill he was trying to get voted on (which LBJ finished), Vietnam was in the early days and JFK was refusing to put combat troops on the ground and instead wanted to decrease the number of advisers. The author goes into his womanizing in great detail, his relationship with Jackie and kids, really every aspect of his life at that time. This book isn't like a thriller where you can't put it down but it was interesting enough that you wanted to keep with it. I, like many Americans of the time, was fascinated with all things Kennedy after this. It's a well done story.
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