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JFK: Ordeal in Africa First Edition

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195033410
ISBN-10: 0195033418
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Editorial Reviews

No conviction was more basic to JFK's foreign policy than his belif that America had to recognise the historic sweepnof the Third World nationalism. It was in Africa, one of the key crisis areas of the early 1960's that Kennedy used the full powers of his presidency to influence the course of self-determination The story of his African odyssey, told here for the first time is set forth in penetrating detail by Richard Mahoney. T his is a compelling account of how foreign policy is made at the highest level and will influence any future judgement of the quality of JFK's statesmanship in the Third World. The narrative is drawn from the raw materials of Kennedy's diplomacy, secret telephone conversations, which no scholar has used before the declassified minutes of white house meetings, state dpt memoranda, and CIA and embassy cable traffic. From these sources, as well as more than 200 interviews with the principles involved Mahoney reconstructs the full complexity of JFK"s response to the momentous events of those years


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First edition (November 17, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195033418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195033410
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,609,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By RP on January 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Herbert F. Weiss on December 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a history changing superbly researched book. Anyone seriously interested in African history and/or the Kennedy Administration's foreign policy should not miss it. Herbert Weiss
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Berube on September 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
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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