• JFK

  • Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956
  • By: Fredrik Logevall
  • Narrated by: Mark Deakins
  • Length: 29 hrs and 27 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (531 ratings)

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JFK  By  cover art


By: Fredrik Logevall
Narrated by: Mark Deakins
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Publisher's summary

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian takes us as close as we have ever been to the real John F. Kennedy in this revelatory biography of the iconic, yet still elusive, 35th president.

“An utterly incandescent study of one of the most consequential figures of the twentieth century.” (Jill Lepore, author of These Truths: A History of the United States)

Winner of the Elizabeth Longford Prize • Named Biography of the Year by The Times (London) • Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The Sunday Times (London) • New StatesmanThe Daily TelegraphKirkus Reviews

By the time of his assassination in 1963, John F. Kennedy stood at the helm of the greatest power the world had ever seen, a booming American nation that he had steered through some of the most perilous diplomatic standoffs of the Cold War. Born in 1917 to a striving Irish American family that had become among Boston’s wealthiest, Kennedy knew political ambition from an early age, and his meteoric rise to become the youngest elected president cemented his status as one of the most mythologized figures in American history. And while hagiographic portrayals of his dazzling charisma, reports of his extramarital affairs, and disagreements over his political legacy have come and gone in the decades since his untimely death, these accounts all fail to capture the full person.

Beckoned by this gap in our historical knowledge, Fredrik Logevall has spent much of the last decade searching for the “real” JFK. The result of this prodigious effort is a sweeping two-volume biography that properly contextualizes Kennedy amidst the roiling American Century. This volume spans the first 39 years of JFK’s life - from birth through his decision to run for president - to reveal his early relationships, his formative experiences during World War II, his ideas, his writings, and his political aspirations. In examining these pre-White House years, Logevall shows us a more serious, independently-minded Kennedy than we’ve previously known, whose distinct international sensibility would prepare him to enter national politics at a critical moment in modern US history.

Along the way, Logevall tells the parallel story of America’s mid-century rise. As Kennedy comes of age, we see the charged debate between isolationists and interventionists in the years before Pearl Harbor; the tumult of the Second World War, through which the United States emerged as a global colossus; the outbreak and spread of the Cold War; the domestic politics of anti-Communism and the attendant scourge of McCarthyism; the growth of television’s influence on politics; and more.

JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956 is a sweeping history of the United States in the middle decades of the 20th century, as well as the clearest portrait we have of this enigmatic American icon.

©2020 Fredrik Logevall (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

“Masterful . . . based on years toiling in the archives but written with a delightfully light touch . . . At times it reads more like a novel than a biography, so vivid is the prose and so extraordinary the material.”The Economist

“Logevall artfully melds the biographical and historical approaches. Though crafted as a kind of bildungsroman, JFK delivers something more than the traditional story of the callow wastrel’s maturation into the admirable adult.”The New York Times Book Review

“A superb book . . . [The] remarkable rivalries within the Kennedy family—propelled by valour, vanity and greed—form the backbone of volume one of Fredrik Logevall’s riveting life of JFK.”The Guardian