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Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero Hardcover – November 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“If history at its best is about telling storiesthat bring the past to life, then Chris Matthews is a master storyteller, forthis fascinating portrait brings Jack Kennedy more vividly to life than anyrecent work.—Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Chris Matthews is anchor of MSNBC’s Hardball. He is author of Tip and the Gipper; Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero; Kennedy and Nixon; Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think; American: Beyond Our Grandest Notions; Hardball: How Politics Is Played by One Who Knows The Game; and Politicians: The Backroom World They Never Show Us.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451635087
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451635089
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (393 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

414 of 476 people found the following review helpful By G. Haneke on November 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This might be a worthwhile book for readers who know very little about President Kennedy and his times. For reasonably well-informed students of that era, however, there is very little that is new here.
This may sound like nit-picking, but the book has some annoying errors that a more careful writer and/or editor would have avoided. Matthews calls the President's younger brother Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy. His actual name was Robert Francis Kennedy. He says Senator Joe McCarthy died in 1956, when it was actually May, 1957. He also says JFK was chosen as America's 34th President, when almost everybody knows he was the 35th.
Errors like these make a reader wonder what else Matthews might have gotten wrong.
If you want an authoritative treatment of JFK, I recommend Robert Dallek's "John F. Kennedy: An Unfinished Life"
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82 of 99 people found the following review helpful By RFKFAN on November 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is my first ever review of a book on Amazon. I am a huge Kennedy reader and have read probably every biography out on both Jack and Bobby for the last 15 plus years. I am also a fan of Chris Matthews who always has an interesting perspective especially on the political spectrum. His book is quite the let-down. It is nothing more than a breezy memoir (even though he did not know Kennedy) which could have been written by any of Jack's close circle of friends. The book has some nice tidbits but it has all been covered before and even though Matthews has a thesis which is nothing more than (1) Kennedy compartmentalized his life and the people around him so no one got the full picture of the man, (2) he was incredibly loyal to his life-long friends who he relied on his whole life and in particular when he got the White House, and (3) Kennedy's thinking and views developed and grew as he went from being the millionaire playboy son to being a congressman to senator to President. While anyone would agree with all of some of these thoughts nothing is new here. If you really want to learn about JFK then go to Dallek's excellent biography called "An Unfinished Life." I think this book is good for the young (13 plus) budding historian as an introduction to JFK in an easy to ready, not too dense format and highlights the important milestones. In that case, it could whet the appetite of the young reader and give him/her the impetus to read the more serious and detailed books on JFK.
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195 of 241 people found the following review helpful By John P. Carsley on November 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First of all, let me say that this is a well written and passionate account of Jack Kennedy the man - an American President who deserves the accolade of "Hero." Chris Matthews' conversational approach to the story, really draws you in, as though you are sittng across from him in your den having a single malt scotch. His narrative never fails to fascinate. In the end, the reader understands, that more than any other 20th Century figure, Jack Kennedy made the decisions that allowed future generations to be born, and our world to continue. A very fine book indeed.
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60 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Sandra on November 23, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you're thinking of buying the Kindle eBook, maybe think twice. I'm reading it, and enjoying the easy story telling style. But the Kindle format is annoying. Every page has random underlining that makes no sense for being there. There are family photos and scanned documents, hand written by JFK that are too small to read. I would love to know what he wrote. Customer service told me there's was nothing I could do to enlarge it.
Update: I returned it for refund. Too expensive to be like this. I'll either get it in a hard copy or skip it.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Music Maven on November 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
There's little I can add to the negative reviews of Elusive Hero. That's really quite validating since this is one of the worst books I've ever read, and I LIKE Chris Matthews. The best part of the book was his autobiographical introductory chapter, which I really did sarcasm intended here. I was so disappointed in what followed and I can't believe Simon & Schuster would actually publish such a terribly written and poorly edited book. I even wondered if anyone had proof-read it or if nobody had the heart to tell Chris that it was simply NOT GOOD. I'm certainly not an avid reader but when it comes to books, I try to finish what I start. This one has been a struggle and I still have 100 pages to go! I find myself exasperated at all the names and quotes of people who don't even seem interesting enough to remember from one chapter to the next.

One thing I will say which I haven't seen stated in these reviews is that I come away feeling that JFK was a conniving and cunning opportunist, stabbing many people in the back, playing both political parties for all he gain, all for the sake of his political advancement. In spite of all the stories I've read about JFK's flawed character, I've always admired him. This book draws all of that in question. Even though it reads like a valentine to a legendary politician, Elusive Hero actually presents quite an unflattering and even disturbing portrait of JFK.
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124 of 159 people found the following review helpful By Tosca on November 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In 1960 I was in the 11th grade and very caught up in the Kennedy vs Nixon campaign. Thanks to my dad's involvement in local democratic politics I was given the opportunity to become what was known as a "Kennedy Girl". We dressed up in red white and blue and attended political functions to promote JFK. One of my most thrilling memories is getting to shake Kennedy's hand at Selfridge AFB in Michigan. Thankfully there was a local newspaper photographer on hand to capture me and several other Kennedy Girls with JFK and Gov. G. Mennen "Soapy" Williams, providing me with a wonderful memento of the occasion.

I've read so many different books on Kennedy over the years and my first thought was "not another book on JFK, please". After reading the review I thought maybe this one might be worth the effort.
Way to go Chris Matthews!
This book told me so much about him that I didn't know and reminded me of things I had forgotten.
I'm so glad decided to read "yet another book on JFK".
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