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JFK, Conservative Hardcover – October 15, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (October 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547585985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547585987
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"An informative analysis of the ways in which J.F.K. did indeed evince his conservative side—he was very religious, open to a free market unencumbered by governmental interference, and staunchly anti-Communist." - Publishers Weekly

"Insightful and well-researched...This volume will appeal to readers seeking an unvarnished appraisal of Kennedy policymaking." -Library Journal "Stoll makes a solid case by carefully scouring the record. A compelling textual study of how JFK became all things to all people." - Kirkus

"A wonderfully mischievous analysis...Stoll’s lively disputation offers a distinctive contribution to the debate." - New York Times Book Review "Provocative and compelling...Ira Stoll has succeeded in changing our very perception of Kennedy as one of liberalism’s heroes." -- The Weekly Standard

"Stoll convincingly argues that the president – despite his iconic status among liberals – had more in common with Republicans of the Reagan era." -- The Brooklyn Eagle

"All the more brilliant, then, is JFK, Conservative, Ira Stoll’s new biography. Stoll cracks the surface of progressive nostalgia and digs up facts that others have left covered over. He shines his miner’s flashlight on material that challenges the progressive stereotype and brings to light nuggets of information and resources that no one else has retrieved." -- Forbes

"Mr. Stoll makes a strong case that in 1960 ‘the anti-Communist, anti-big government candidate was John F. Kennedy. The one touting government programs and higher salaries for public employees was Richard Nixon,’ he writes.” -- The Wall Street Journal

"Stoll, author of a fine biography of Samuel Adams and former managing editor of the New York Sun, makes a strong case that conservatives should stake a claim to President Kennedy as one of their own. JFK, Conservative is a finely crafted brief for this interpretation — and it comes close to winning the case… Stoll makes a strong case that JFK was neither the idealistic liberal of legend nor even the pragmatic liberal that the historical consensus suggests he was…[An] excellent study." -- The National Review

"Loony" -- The New Yorker

“[Stoll] assembles sufficient evidence that his book’s title is not merely provocative.” --  George Will, The Washington Post

“JFK, Conservative is an eminently readable book, providing substantial and convincing evidence, both pro and con, as to how we should judge Kennedy’s politics. Stoll does a particularly admirable job in his devil’s advocacy, bringing forth much source material from Kennedy’s liberal supporters as a counter-balance to his thesis...Stoll’s book proves eye opening and enjoyable in showing that there were aspects of JFK’s ideology worth admiring, much to the chagrin of his leftist champions.” -- The Blaze
“I guarantee you this one's not going to be studied at the universities any time soon, so we need to study it in our own life.” -- Glenn Beck
 “It is the best book of nonfiction I have read this entire year. It is provocative. It makes you rethink a lot of things. It changes what you thought you always knew.” -- Jack Riccardi, KTSA Radio, San Antonio
 “It’s overdue…I’m surprised no one has written this directly about JFK until now...Great book.” – Howie Carr, WRKO Radio, Boston

About the Author

IRA STOLL is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com, and the author of Samuel Adams: A Life. From 2002 to 2008 he was vice president and managing editor of The New York Sun. Previously, he served as Washington correspondent and managing editor of The Forward, as North American editor of the Jerusalem Post, and as president of the Harvard Crimson.

More About the Author

Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and author of Samuel Adams: A Life. He was vice president and managing editor of the New York Sun, which he helped to found, from its debut in 2002 until its demise in 2008. Before that he was a consultant to the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, North American editor of the Jerusalem Post, editor of Smartertimes.com, Washington correspondent and then managing editor of the Forward, and a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. He is a graduate of Harvard, where he was president of the Harvard Crimson. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

Things have really changed.
JFK, Conservative by Ira Stoll goes deep into the heart of who Kennedy really was, contrary to what most liberals think.
S. Smith
Got to page 65 and dropped the book.
Mel in NJ

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In this refreshing book, Ira Stoll recaptures a JFK lost until now, one washed away in the tidal wave of liberal historic revisionism.

I was a child when JFK was the president, just old enough to look at pictures in LIFE magazine and read the captions. But the Kennedy you find in Ira Stoll's book is a lot like the Kennedy figuring in the history I read in the years after his death, before his image had been made over to serve his brothers' political careers.

This John F. Kennedy was one of the Ur anti-Communists of the first postwar Congresses. He was a hawk. He believed in strength. He believed World War II started because no one stood up to Hitler in the 1930s when they should have. He believed the Communists would do the same worldwide in the 1960s unless the U.S. led resistance to them.

He was distrusted by liberals before and during his presidency. Eleanor Roosevelt didn't want him becoming president, and neither did a host of liberal politicians and labor leaders. He raised military spending while holding the line on domestic spending, including the myriad social programs liberal Democrats wanted him to pass. The Peace Corps? An effort to combat Communism in the Third World by sending American idealists to do development work.

His signature economic moves were lowering taxes and tariffs. He was unwilling to press hard on civil rights, thought it should mostly be left to states and cities, and felt the best thing he could do for black people was his supply-side economic plan, which would create more jobs and opportunity for them and everyone.

Ironically, many Republicans thought his tax cut too deep, one creating a deficit that Kennedy argued would be closed by the growth the tax cut stimulus would create.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 100 REVIEWER on November 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
After reading several memoirs of those who worked with Kennedy and books about his presidency I have come to the opinion that he was one of those people who held beliefs on the principal of what he believed was right and what would work, not just blindly following party policy.

Ira Stoll holds that Kennedy was anti-communist, but yet from other sources they have reported that Kennedy had a desire to work with them in space after we had gotten to the moon. There are also records and indications that he wanted the troops out of Vietnam - of course after he was reelected so he did not look like he was soft on communism. Kennedy also had installed the hot line to communicate rather than blindly militarily responding, which is the same tactic he took during the Cuban missile crisis.

Stoll in several places asserts that Kennedy's religion made him a conservative, although he does admit, even though he prayed every day for his family he still chased and lusted after other women. This is an example of the fact that the man could hold onto 2 sides of a `party line".
Hopefully Stoll's implication is not saying liberals cannot be religious. After all there are people who believe in the death penalty but would still like to see starving children fed.
Kennedy seems not to have followed the liberal democratic party in all cases.

I am still left wondering at the statement in one of the final chapters that Richard Nixon followed a far more liberal course than Kennedy. In some cases, granted, he did. It really seems to make no sense, in reality, the assertions that Kennedy's Catholicism made him a conservative. The statements and pronouncements would be better served by comparing them to the liberal policies, acts and policies and also include those that he did not get passed through congress.

This is still an interesting work and theory to look at - sort of the other side of the coin.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Book Woman on March 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not always an easy read, but a necessary read. No matter what the left states, the facts reveal the truth. President Kennedy was deeply religious and anti communist. Yes, he has foibles, but it is clear that he loved the United States, and unlike our current President, he viewed America as exceptional compared to other countries. This book with all of its quotes from Kennedy contradicts the liberal belief that Kennedy was one of theirs. If you doubt, just read this. The facts based on his speeches cannot be disputed.
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21 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on November 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ira Stoll lays out chapters chronologically through JFK's life with just enough circumstantial background to familiarize the reader with Kennedy's environment at the time, and then presents, through quote after quote, things that neither the hardcore Liberal nor hardcore Conservative would believe were uttered by this idol of present-day progressivism.

Among the most salient points of the book:
1) Kennedy welcomed every opportunity to mention the importance of religion, particularly the values of Christianity.
2) He despised Communism and worked to stamp it out wherever and whenever possible.
3) Kennedy, a Democrat and war hero, worked to build U.S. military muscle. Indeed, his speech that was to be delivered at the Dallas Trade Mart on the day of his death, referred with pride to the recent buildup of American military power.
4) Perhaps most shocking to modern Liberals, Kennedy detested the idea of increasing the size of government, as the passage below recounts:

"He had a strong feeling that federal employment was rising when it should not rise. I remember his using as an illustration to me one day the shock and indeed horror he felt when he found that it took (I don't recall the figures) 'X' number of gardeners to maintain the White House grounds. 'Why,' he said, 'the man we have handling our grounds at Hyannis Port could do this whole thing with the assistance of maybe a boy.' I think there were six gardeners on the White House payroll, and the President didn't see the use for more than a man and a half. And he said (I don't know whether he ever did this) he was going to bring that gardener down from Hyannis Port and have him look over the White House grounds and tell him what the proper staffing pattern would be.
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