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JFK: Reckless Youth Paperback – October 12, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; Reissue edition (October 12, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679748806
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679748809
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #975,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Riveting, impressively researched, at times shocking, this first in a multi-volume life of John F. Kennedy lays bare the bruised, narcissistic psyche behind his charismatic facade. In this volume we meet a fun-loving but emotionally confused youth, deeply affected by the loveless union between his bullying, demanding father, Joseph, and his sanctimonious, prudish mother, Rose--a woman JFK increasingly regarded with contempt. We see him become a 19-year-old aide to his father, who was U.S. ambassador to Britain from 1938 to 1940 and an arch appeaser of Hitler; we read how the son steps out from his father's shadow and reverses his own isolationist stance. We see him mature as commander of an ill-fated PT boat in the Pacific and learn of his love affair with Danish reporter Inga Arvad, an associate of Hitler and Goebbels, whom the FBI suspected of being a Nazi spy. We leave him at the end of this volume as congressman-elect in 1946, in the process of transforming himself into an unsavory politican for whom the chase was the challenge--with voters as with women. Hamilton ( The Brothers Mann ) has written a remarkably fresh work that promises to be the fullest, most revealing portrait of Kennedy's personal and political development. Photos. Author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Nigel Hamilton's story, told with great intelligence and sympathy, is of how Jack came to terms with his inheritance and frightful upbringing." - Daily Telegraph


"The definitive life of JFK...shows us, better than ever before, how the ambitious playboy began his transformation into the charismatic President." - Mail on Sunday --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

This book is the best biography I've ever read.
TREX
Their father Joe was, as Hamilton makes clear, good at only one thing: manipulating stocks in order to steal himself a fortune.
Susan Sloate, Author, FORWARD TO CAMELOT & STEALING FIRE
Such a revealing book would be bound to incite them.
Jeff Kelleher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Susan Sloate, Author, FORWARD TO CAMELOT & STEALING FIRE VINE VOICE on August 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
JFK RECKLESS YOUTH has only one drawback: It covers only the part of his life up to his election to Congress. Hamilton has promised two more volumes, but they have so far not appeared. That said, it is the only negative that can be said for this remarkable volume, for my money the best JFK bio anywhere (including the new but hardly impressive JFK: AN UNFINISHED LIFE by Robert Dallek). There isn't an aspect of Kennedy's life that goes unexplored. Hamilton, however, did not have the access to JFK's medical records that Dallek did -- therefore he probably did not realize how very serious JFK's health issues were. (Of course, he is writing about JFK's early life, when he was obviously a lot healthier than he was later.)
What is made painfully clear here is that JFK became president not because of his parents, but frankly, in spite of them. It was the force of his intellect and personality, more than his father's money, that made him who he was. Hamilton spends a lot of time in comparisons between Joe Jr. (the heir apparent) and Jack, the second son. According to him, Joe Jr. was ponderous, prejudiced, hardworking but abrasive and often nasty, and in general, simply did not attract people to him as Jack did. Jack, on the other hand, for all his natural rebelliousness (almost certainly fed by his parents' endless hectoring and marital issues), had enormous charm, warmth and endless humor. Hamilton even uncovers evidence of a surprisingly tender heart and his attempts to hide his concern for his friends with sarcasm and wit. His friends note that he constantly looked for new friendships and never lost a friend, even when the friends treated him with less than kindness and respect. He was loyal to a fault.
Hamilton does reserve tremendous ire (and who can blame him?
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 5, 1999
Format: Audio Cassette
I was 11 when JFK was killed, and I'd never read a Kennedy biography before this book, except one published by a friend soon after his assassination, which was so treacly with hero-worship that I vowed never again to try.
Then I spent my young adulthood hearing more and more about the women, the Mob connections, the flaws of this truly extraordinary man.
Nigel Hamilton - in spite of what must have been vociferous pressure from the Kennedy family, fully detailed in his "Afterward," - has done an incredible job of presenting, clay feet and all, a fully dimensional description of who the young John Kennedy was, and how he came to be that way. He writes with passion and insight, fully annotating those reckless aspects of JFK which defy belief (like, his being unfaithful to Jackie with an actress on the very night of his Inauguration), together with a genuine respect and admiration for so many of JFK's talents and finer qualities. What emerges is an unforgettable man. It's the very mixture which all earlier biographies miss. Yes, I DID read several after Hamilton's book, and found them all black-and-white, adore Kennedy, or detest him. Good and bad, flawed and courageous, witty and ruthless, inconsiderate and idealistic, it's all here in the early young man (the book ends with Kennedy's win for his first Congressional seat in 1946).
I would like to think that JFK, of all people, would have appreciated the paradoxes and intricate ironies Hamilton so thoroughly details. One comes away from this book saddened that the book - and the life - ended so soon.
After years of fearing that Kennedy pressure had ended Hamilton's multi-volume history after only the first installment, I'm thrilled to see that Amazon.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
It is now virtually impossible to find a good biography of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Most are interested less in telling about his life, every aspect of it, than about his love life. But Nigel Hamilton returns some honor and polish, eschewing sensationalism for the sake of actually writing a book about his life.
This book recounts JFK's life until his election in Congress, beginning years before his birth with accounts of his grandparents and parents and what drove Joseph Kennedy to obsess on politics. While it includes JFK's assorted premarital affairs, there is also a great deal of complicated and in-depth information on his Navy service, his health, his political life, his family life, and the things that would affect him when he later became president of the United States.
Hamilton manages to pull more material -- only a portion of Kennedy's life -- into more pages than most Kennedy biographers could if they tried. He does this by incredibly in-depth investigation into just about everything in Kennedy's life. This approach not only gives much-needed depth to Kennedy himself, but to other people in his life. While his parents are no more sympathetic here than they ever were (meaning that they probably were as they seem), people that he interacted with (and in some cases, slept with) are given new attention. For example, his first serious lover Inga Arvad is explored in greater depth. Here she is not a promiscuous gold-digger or a clingy adulteress, but a woman who is willing to give up her love for his own good. Her Nazi sympathies and marital status are not downplayed, but her emotions and feelings are presented to the readers to make us realize what she was like.
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