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Kennedy: The Classic Biography (Harper Perennial Political Classics) Paperback – October 20, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Ted Sorensen knew Kennedy the man, the senator, the candidate, and the president as no other associate did. From his hiring as a legislative assistant to Kennedy's death in 1963, Sorensen was with him during the key crises and turning points—including the spectacular race for the vice presidency at the 1956 convention, the launching of Kennedy's presidential candidacy, the TV debates with Nixon, and election night at Hyannis Port. The first appointment made by the new president was to name Ted Sorensen his Special Counsel.

In Kennedy, Sorensen recounts failures as well as successes with surprising candor and objectivity. He reveals Kennedy's errors on the Bay of Pigs, and his attitudes toward the press, Congress, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Sorensen saw firsthand Kennedy's actions in the Cuban missile crises, and the evolution of his beliefs on civil rights and arms control. First published in 1965 and reissued here with a new preface, Kennedy is an intimate biography of an extraordinary man, and one of the most important historical accounts of the twentieth century.

About the Author

Ted Sorensen was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and after law school moved to Washington, D.C., where he would ultimately work for John F. Kennedy. He left the White House soon after JFK's death, and in 1966 joined a New York City law firm, where, as a prominent international lawyer, he advised governments, multinational organizations, and major corporations around the world. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History. Sorensen remained active in political and international issues until his death in 2010.

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Product Details

  • Series: Harper Perennial Political Classics
  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (October 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006196784X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061967849
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Toby Scammell on November 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Sorensen's account deals briefly with Kennedy's background, and then dives deeper into his campaign and years in office. I used the book as research for a paper on the Bay of Pigs and found that Sorensen's analysis is concise yet thorough. His reliance on Kennedy's speeches and on the progression of the drafts (many that he wrote or co-wrote) provides a very interesting picture of the incident and the man that I couldn't find elsewhere.

A very good background, reference, or research piece from insider Ted Sorensen.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Leeni Balogh on December 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Written by John F. Kennedy's longtime aide, Ted Sorensen. An insider's view of one of the greatest American presidents. A reminder of Kennedy's leadership in areas such as: civil rights, environmental rights, consumer rights, Peace Corps, and space exploration. Half a century ago Kennedy warned against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and he took the first serious step toward arms control by ratifying the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. It has been 47 years since the death of President Kennedy, but his legacy lives. When JFK was president, I was very young and did not live in the United States. So, it was interesting to read about the 1960 presidential campaign climate: the difficulties Kennedy faced running as a Roman Catholic and the very narrow margin by which he won the election.
Sorensen"s book is 758 pages long and exhaustive. I recommend it for anyone who has serious interest in John F. Kennedy, the man and the political climate in late "50s and early 60's.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Although Sorenson's book might have taken a beating since Camelot's golden days, it remains an invaluable classic for those interested in Presidential biographies. Sorenson doccuments what he felt made Kennedy a leader....and what ultimately impacted us when he was assasinated.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Hugh O'Neill on March 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
WHO WILL PRAY FOR JFK?

“Arma Virumque Cano” (Virgil’s Aeneid)

November 22nd 2013 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of American President John F. Kennedy. It would seem that there are two distinct versions of this man, since the mythology that has accrued ever since has been contradictory at best. How can one man be so different from what we thought we knew? Indeed, so much has been written that many people now switch-off: unable to separate the truth from the myth, they drown in the brown tsunami of disinformation perpetrated by his murderers who make our world so dysfunctional. Confusion becomes apathy.

George Orwell wrote of the rationale behind propaganda: “Who controls the present controls the past. Who controls the past controls the future”. It is the duty of every historian to challenge propaganda, no matter how politically dangerous that may be. American soldier (and whistle-blower) Bradley Manning is under trial now because he told the truth about the slaughter of unarmed civilians. Orwell again: “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act”. Hitler too knew that deceiving people was quite simply a matter of constant repetition until the lie becomes the fact. The historian JFK’s first book “Why England Slept” was published in 1940 when he was only 23 and became a best-seller: he donated the royalties to recently-bombed Plymouth. (Interestingly, the BBC insinuates that the book was only a success because his father bought so many copies, or that he himself did not write it etc. This is the same BBC that warned us about WMD in Iraq). JFK wrote: “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic’.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Doug Danzeisen on August 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My first memory was watching the funeral cortage of JFK roll through Washington and the sound of those mournful drums. I remember the adults all being so sad and somber. It made a powerful impression no me then, and I have since been fascinated by the man called JFK and his life and times. Sorensen, who was JFK's speech writing genius knew Kennedy on his ascension to power as few did. He tells his story clearly, convincingly and with reverence for the man who literally saved us from nuclear armageddon. During the "Bay of Pigs" Kennedy resisted the unanimous opinion of the joint cheifs to invade Cuba. As Sorensen details in the book, the Soviets blinked and removed the missiles. What was not known until years later was that the field commanders in Cuba had been issued tactical nukes and the authorization to use them. An invasion would have quickly become a nuclear exchange and then.... Too horrible to contemplate. Kennedy kept us from going over the precipice then and for that our country, indeed the world, owes him a great debt. Therefor I reject the scandalous books that surround JFK, he was indeed a flawed man, and his womanizing is indeed legendary. But he overcame tremendous obstacles in his life, devastating illness, injuries that haunted him all his life. He was indeed a hero, and to hear his words, his wisdom and candor is to truly hear a politician that cared about the people. Sorensen paints the picture honestly, clearly and concisely. His respect and affection for his friend is obvious, but so is his dedication to the truth. Camelot was indeed a different time, just as America was a different nation then. The man and the time belong to the ages, but we can indeed learn what made it special, and why it is worth learning from. This book is a great reference from one who was not only there, but intimately involved.
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