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The Presidency of John F. Kennedy (American Presidency Series) Paperback – February 20, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0700614578 ISBN-10: 0700614575 Edition: 2 Revised

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Product Details

  • Series: American Presidency Series
  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; 2 Revised edition (February 20, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700614575
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700614578
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #532,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Brisk, solid survey of a brief and controversial presidency, by Giglio (History/Southwest Missouri State Univ.). Elected with virtually no mandate in what Giglio says was a stolen election, Kennedy managed in his ``thousand days'' to put his stamp on the American reality. He soon forged his mandate, Giglio points out, by media mastery and by using supreme political skills that allowed him to give the appearance of firm, virtuous positions while keeping options open as he successfully identified himself with causes (civil rights, anti-imperialism) that in reality he accepted only shallowly, and avoided acting on. Judging gently, supporting his views with precise, well-integrated evidence, Giglio gives a relatively unbiased picture of JFK. We see the future President begin as his father's creature, supported every step of the way by money, influence, and manipulation, and grow into a man learning from traumatic confrontations with Khrushchev (in Vienna) and with American blacks (at a breakfast that left him virtually speechless). Kennedy's Achilles' heel--his unproductive relationship with Congress--is plainly drawn, but his judgment on the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis are not seriously faulted, while his creation of the Peace Corps is seen as genuinely historic. Most interestingly, Giglio documents JFK's lifelong physical frailty, superbly concealed in the mythology of the war hero and athlete. A victim of Addison's disease (not to mention satyriasis) for years, Kennedy came close to death as a young man and was also in constant, uncorrectable back pain, often severe. Regularly injected with steroids and pain-killers, he was also receiving, until his death, amphetamine shots from a notorious doctor-to-the-stars. A balanced and thoughtful account that avoids the hagiography or damnation of so many other JFK bios, revealing the man in all his complexity, from his wily, hypnotic charm to his political decisiveness when it could not be avoided. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"A balanced and thoughtful account that reveals the man in all his complexity." -- Kirkus

"This book is more than merely interesting; its narrations of the major crises of the Kennedy presidency are riveting." -- American Historical Review

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Because these are balanced assessments, I feel confident that these books are good authoritative sources of information.
Epistem Quest
The closest the world ever came to thermonuclear war was during the Cuban missile crisis, which is still a model for the management of a crisis between great powers.
Charles Ashbacher
I had to read this book for a university course about Kenndey's presidency and can recommend it to anyone interested in a fair account.
"daniel_sp"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
While it was shorter than most, that did not prevent the Kennedy presidency from being eventful, even without including the tragic end. The closest the world ever came to thermonuclear war was during the Cuban missile crisis, which is still a model for the management of a crisis between great powers. And the greatest public failure of a CIA sponsored action was the disastrous invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.
While necessarily short, the description of the Cuban missile crisis was still amazing to read, as the hawkish position of the U. S. military commanders was clearly a harbinger of the same policy of ratcheting up the force that failed so badly in Vietnam. Some, although not all, of the commanders were for massive force, thinking that it would so intimidate the Cubans that it would be all over quickly. This event is one of the strongest arguments in favor of political control over the military and Kennedy showed himself to be strong-willed in doing all he could to find a political solution that allowed the Soviets a face-saving way to retreat.
Given all that has happened since then, it is amazing to be reminded that in the early years of the Kennedy administration the country in Southeast Asia that was considered most likely to fall under communist control was Laos. Here again, Kennedy showed himself willing to do whatever it took to find a political settlement. He was most reluctant to commit American combat forces in Southeast Asia, considering it dangerous and fraught will all kinds of unknown consequences.
This backdrop brings up the natural question as to whether Kennedy would have followed the path in Vietnam that Lyndon Johnson did. Giglio avoids spending a great deal of time on that continuous point of contention.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "daniel_sp" on July 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is neither an uncritical appraisal of Kennedy nor a damning account. Rather, the author has managed to give a critical but not biased view of Kennedy's presidency. Naturally, this involves disproving a couple of myths about "Camelot". I had to read this book for a university course about Kenndey's presidency and can recommend it to anyone interested in a fair account.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Kirk VINE VOICE on October 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
I've read a few of these books from this series of presidents and this one is extremely through and deep. The author did a wonderful job of extracting deep, dark details of major events in JFK's years. A great look into our relationship with Russia and the civil rights struggle in America, this book is very fair to not be too negative or positive. Also, I did enjoy his summary of JFK's impact on society and it helped me understand most people's found memory of this president.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Epistem Quest on December 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the third book that I have read in the American Presidency Series published by University Press of Kansas. These books are written by reputable scholars who seek to give a factual and balanced assessment of the various presidents. Because these are balanced assessments, I feel confident that these books are good authoritative sources of information. One does not need to be a scholar to enjoy these books.

The book covers all of the major foreign and domestic issues that the Kennedy administration dealt with. Perhaps my least favorite chapter deals with farm legislation. If the reader is a policy wonk in that area, then the reader will find that chapter a joy. Perhaps my favorite chapter deals with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Professor Giglio does a very good job of describing the general mood, and individual emotions, of various participants of the Kennedy administration, as well as the many options they discussed in dealing with this crisis. He clearly shows how the President, along with his staff, matured after the earlier Bay of Pigs fiasco.

I like writing that captures the complexity of an individual's personality. Professor Giglio does an excellent job in this regard in his chapter entitled, "Image and Reality." For example, Kennedy exuded a youthful vigor. In reality, he was very unhealthy. He suffered from a bad back, Addison's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic prostatitis, and high cholesterol, to name a few. The chapter goes on to give many of the differences between the private JFK and his public persona.

Another area that I found interesting was his foreign policy. He really did try to break with the Eisenhower administration's view that so much of the turmoil in the developing world was communist inspired.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Slonda828 on January 4, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like to expand my horizons with respect to politics. This book, over any other that I have read about Kennedy, speaks more about his policy decisions as a President and less about his subsequent murder. I am not an expert on politics, but I did learn quite a bit about how difficult it is to make decisions as the most senior leader of our country. The text covers the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs, and the nascent days of the war in Vietnam. I feel like you get a good sense of how difficult being the President would be from reading about Kennedy. Additionally, you really do get a sense for how much less moronic politics used to be in the 60's. Apparently, politicians used to do something known as "working together." It's a shame that he was killed when he was. His views on Vietnam were drastically different from LBJ's. After reading about both of them, I really grew to like Kennedy and dislike LBJ to a very large degree. My only criticism of this book is that it literally reads like a college textbook (I think it is actually a text book). I just wish that it was a bit more interestingly written. I can read over 100 pages in a sitting in a good book. I was reading 3 a night in this one and falling asleep in my chair with the book on my lap like a 70 year old man...and I am in my middle 30's.
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