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"Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee " Best-selling biographer Michael Korda writes the first major biography of Robert E. Lee in nearly 20 years, bringing to life one of America's most iconic heroes. Learn more | See related books
There is a tragically small subset of scholarship that focuses on American Foreign Relations with Africa, but Richard Mahoney's JFK: Ordeal in Africa surely ranks among the best of the bunch. Though somewhat dated and unfortunately out of print, Mahoney presents an incredibly insightful and well-written account of Kennedy's engagement with Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically the major flash points of Ghana, the Portuguese colonies(primarily Angola), and the Congo. Through access to classified documents, interviews with participants, and a firm handle on the secondary literature that existed at the time, Ordeal in Africa effectively depicts the American strategy that often walked a fine line between anti-colonial idealism and practical Cold War strategy. The results were often problematic and occasionally contradictory, but by 1963 American policy seemed headed in the direction of a more liberal strategy that could benefit African nationalists.
Yet if the book focuses primarily on relations between the African continent and the United States, it is also worthwhile to note that it stands as one of the earliest and perhaps best overviews of Kennedy's general understanding of decolonization. Following Kennedy's interest in the topic from his days as the junior senator from Massachusetts, through the campaign, and into the White House, Mahoney demonstrates that Kennedy used the matter to bolster his liberal credentials while simultaneously grasping the strategic value of early support for the new nations of the developing world.Read more ›
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What the author does with this book is show how JFK opposed nearly everyone around him: the British, Dutch, Wall Street, the Dulles faction, and imperialism in general all in favor of African nationalism for the benefit of African people. This study is crucial for understanding what made JFK different than what came before him (Truman, Eisenhower/J.F. Dulles) and what came after him (LBJ onward). Only FDR inspired the world to believe in the positive actions America took in a similar fashion. The other administrations sided heavily (for the most part) with the colonial and corporate powers that tend to dominate foreign affairs. This book also indirectly sheds light on the assassination as well. It helps answer the question "who hated JFK enough to want him dead?". Although it is only a part of the overall motivation for his death, Mahoney conclusively shows how JFK was in a struggle against some of the same powerful forces in Africa that he was at home. This is largely a forgotten (or never taught) history that is just as relevant today as back then.
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