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JFK in the Senate: Pathway to the Presidency [Kindle Edition]

John T. Shaw
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Before John F. Kennedy became a legendary young president he was the junior senator from Massachusetts. The Senate was where JFK's presidential ambitions were born and first realized. In the first book to deal exclusively with JFK's Senate years, author John T. Shaw looks at how the young Senator was able to catapult himself on the national stage. Tip O'Neill once quipped that Kennedy received more publicity for less accomplishment than anyone in Congress. But O'Neill didn't understand that Kennedy saw a different path to congressional influence and ultimately the presidency. Unlike Lyndon Johnson, the Democratic leader in the Senate, JFK never aspired to be "The Master of the Senate" who made deals and kept the institution under his control. Instead, he envisioned himself as a "Historian-Scholar-Statesman" in the mold of his hero Winston Churchill which he realized with the 1957 publication of Profiles of Courage that earned JFK a Pulitzer Prize and public limelight. Smart, dashing, irreverent and literary, the press could not get enough of him. Yet, largely overlooked has been Kennedy's tenure on a special Senate committee to identify the five greatest senators in American history--JFK's work on this special panel coalesced his relationships in Congress, and helped catapult him toward the presidency. Based on primary documents from JFK's Senate years as well as memoirs, oral histories, and interviews with his top aides, JFK in the Senate provides new insight into an underappreciated aspect of his political career.

Editorial Reviews


"This book provides a great introduction to Kennedy's personality and his efforts to transform himself into a viable presidential will serve well to all those interested in acquiring a quick overview of Kennedy's trajectory before reaching the White House" - LSE Review of Books

About the Author

John T. Shaw is a senior correspondent and vice president for Market News International and a contributing writer for the Washington Diplomat. He is a frequent guest on C-SPAN, where he discusses Congress, as well as on KPCC, an NPR affiliate in Los Angeles. He has also appeared on the "PBS News Hour." Shaw was a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University for six years, and he speaks frequently to seminars for diplomats in Washington. He lives in Washington, DC.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2365 KB
  • Print Length: 252 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0230341837
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade (October 15, 2013)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EGJAZ06
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #817,466 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, substantial book - a pleasure to read. November 15, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent read. John Shaw has other fine books and this is his best. If you are looking for Kennedy anecdotes on Kennedy's infidelities or assassination theories, this is the wrong book. This is an insightful book that goes in depth on Kennedy's Senate years. It gives a good perspective on how Kennedy developed as a person into a solid presidential candidate and what his contributions were as a legislature and member of the Senate. The focus gives new insights - it reminds me of Band of Rivals. Having read many things about Lincoln, the perspective of that book gave me a different look and much more knowledge of the man and his career. This book does the same thing - by offering a detailed perspective on the time JFK spent in the Senate. It has substance but is not dense, it is well told and a pleasure to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A look at JFK prior to presidency April 26, 2014
By Gderf
The book is an account of JFK prior to becoming president. It starts with his academic background at Harvard, continuing with his five years in the H.R. and especially his Senate term from 1953 to resignation for the presidency in 1960. He was a prolific reader of history. The book coves writing of 'While England Slept', 'Profiles in Courage' and 'The Strategy of Peace' while he was a senator.

Kennedy switched from campaigning on a platform of economic improvement for NE and Mass. to focus on national and foreign policy as he became better known as a presidential contender. It seems that his Senate main credit was the Kennedy Commission to pick the 5 greatest senators in history with resulting commission of paintings to hang in the Capitol. I found the discussions of the candidates very interesting, but that's history not a significant achievement. Most interesting is the account of Kennedy's relationship with other senators of the era. LBJ, Barry Goldwater, Mike Mansfield, Richard Russel, Hubert Humphrey, Henry 'Scoop' Jackson and Joe McCarthy are prominently cited with many more. There is an interesting account of his run for the presidency with advisors Ted Sorenson, J.K. Galbraith, W.W. Rostow, and Paul Samuelson.

In considering JFK's Senate legacy LBJ said Kennedy did little. Neither Truman nor Eisenhower was impressed. I remember Truman suggesting that he should wait longer before a presidential run. The book shows the footprint from his Senate career mostly about publicity. Shaw ends by saying that history's verdict on JFK's Senate record is high average. The book doesn't bear that out. It describes his Senate legacy as books and publicity.

The book contains interesting historical insight, although with minimal current significance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This must be one of the best new books with a fresh perspective or angle on who John F Kennedy was and how he became the President that he was for those brief 3 years. Unlike President Obama, JFK served a relatively long time in the Senate (8yrs) and before that 6 yrs in the House. The author clearly shows how JFK used the Senate as a launching pad for his run to the White House. Interesting are the speeches Shaw points out on foreign policy issues that proved visionary and prescient (and would cause JFK challenges enough). Also worth noting is how JFK set out his vision for New England (and Massachusetts) and was able to form a platform of 12 new England Senators that became influential in due course long after he established it!!
highly recommended!!!! now for a book that focusses on his foreign policies!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How Kennedy became JFK January 7, 2014
Shaw has crafted a carefully researched look at JFK's fourteen-years in Congress. He reminds us that Kennedy was not born in the White House and shows in engaging detail how his rise to the presidency was both a reflection of his unique personality and the harbinger of a new presidential politics -- for good or ill. This book is particularly suited to those who want a behind-the-scenes look at major league American politics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A fresh, insightful view of the "back story" of JFK's rise through the Senate to the White House. The narrative is quick moving and deep, full of little known details and connections from the Senate floor in the 1950's that paint a portrait of one of our best loved Presidents, revealing how acutely Kennedy was of the legacy he was building for history to look back on his time serving his country.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Eight Years of Development December 14, 2013
The three-term Congressman who entered the Senate in January 1953 wasn't thought to be a future President at any time, let alone by the end of the decade. As John T. Shaw chronicles in JFK in the Senate, John Kennedy saw the U.S. Senate as a stepping stone to achieve the presidency. And in his nearly eight years in the upper chamber, Kennedy learned lessons that helped him to be a better politician and help secure him the nomination and later election.

Shaw's study of Kennedy in the Senate starts with a basic outline of his life with a focus more on his first Congressional and Senate campaigns respectively than anything else, including his three-terms in the House. Shaw's then looks at Kennedy time in the Senate in three aspects: domestic, foreign, and finally his role documenting the institution's history. Shaw concludes by showing how Kennedy used the Senate to launch is campaign for 1960.

The focus on Kennedy in relation to the Senate is revealing especially as Shaw brings to the reader's attention things not previously emphasized. The first was Kennedy's legislative work on the labor issue as well as he learned to balance regional and national economic issues, issues that seemed glossed over or neglected in larger studies of Kennedy's life. The second was Kennedy's perspectives on foreign policy while in both the House and Senate including his critiques of the Truman and Eisenhower administrations' foreign policy. Shaw reveals how Kennedy's views and critiques turned out to be astute in the hindsight of history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but little known aspects of JFK's Senate Career
I have read a great deal about JFK's personal life and his presidency. However, like many others, I assumed his Senate career was without much merit or interest. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Librarian
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your average Kennedy read
Many authors have tried to give their insight about JFK, but most of them fall into the same pitfalls (his affairs, his assassination, Khrushchev, etc). Read more
Published 14 months ago by Patricio Nieto
5.0 out of 5 stars jfk pathway to the presidency
I enjoyed this book very much and I recommened this to any person who loves history and who is a kennedy fun.
Published 15 months ago by williasm krystyniak
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Concise
John Shaw's JFK in the Senate is a well written and concise history of JFK's house and senate years. Read more
Published 17 months ago by frrobinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the same old same old.
Here is a real book that shows a young man, his interests, intellect and political desires. A very human JFK finding his way to an unknown future, molding his thoughts, opinions... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Robert E. Dennis
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for anyone interested in Kennedy’s political development
In Shaw's latest book he has managed the seldom achieved easy read that is also densely packed with historical detail and insightful anecdotes. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mike Boettcher
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