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Profiles in Courage Hardcover – March 18, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


"A book that deserves reading by every American." -- -- Springfield Republican

"A book that deserves reading by every American." -- Springfield Republican --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) was president of the United States from 1961 to 1963. At forty-three, he was the youngest man ever elected to the Oval Office and the first Roman Catholic president.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Later Printing edition (March 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060530626
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060530624
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

141 of 154 people found the following review helpful By T. Graczewski VINE VOICE on December 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
"Profiles in Courage" is a rare book - for a number of reasons.

First, of course, is that the author is nothing short of American royalty and the publication of the book in 1956 had an instantaneous impact on Kennedy's political fortunes. In the late 1950s, JFK was a freshman senator without many notable achievements. "Profiles" immediately set him apart from his Congressional colleagues and established him as something of an intellectual heavyweight in Washington and garnered valuable publicity that ultimately vaulted him to the 1960 Democratic nomination and the presidency.

Second, never before has a work of non-fiction been so immediately embroiled in controversy, both because of questions concerning its composition and the fact that it won the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for biography. The consensus today -- nearly half-a-century after its publication and after intense scrutiny -- is that the book was essentially written by committee. JFK may have provided the inspiration for the work, but close aide and confidant Ted Sorensen did most of the heavy lifting around research and writing. In other words, Kennedy was more the "editor" than the "author." Indeed, Herbert Parmet investigated the "who wrote Profiles?" question in detail in his 1980 book "Jack: The Struggle of John F. Kennedy" and concluded that there was no evidence from reams of hand-written notes and memos that JFK contributed anything substantial to the final version of the book. This after Kennedy threatened to sue ABC for millions after syndicated columnist Drew Pearson alleged that the book was ghostwritten during a 1957 appearance on the Mike Wallace Show, an allegation ABC was forced to retract.
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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Hinde on October 19, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Profiles in Courage" does not belong to any of my preferred genres. I became interested in it after researching John Quincy Adams. The film "Amistad" started me down this path and eventually led to JFK's Pulitzer Prize winning book. It was written while he was still a Senator and focuses, for the most part, on historic politicians. Kennedy obviously admired these men, not for their great successes but for the personal price they all paid as a result of choosing to do what they felt was right.
Each man gets at most a chapter, and so Kennedy limited himself to one or two important events in their political careers, often their last stand. Not only are these men admirable but they are also very real. He manages to show us the human, less than perfect, side of each while convincing us of their moral strength. Each chapter leaves you wanting to know more about these men, who helped to shape American history.
The nice part about the book, and probably the key reason it won a Pulitzer, is that each event reads like a thriller. These are interesting stories and because Kennedy wrote them in chronological order with a few historic segues, the whole thing holds together to give us a better feel for the sweep of history. We willingly learn about the underlying currents that can inexorably drive a country in a certain direction.
"Profiles in Courage," is an easy read that teaches as it entertains. Kennedy seems to be encouraging us to look back at a past where "politician" was not a dirty word and in so doing, we are left with the suspicion that Kennedy himself, was trying to live up to those outmoded ideals. Knowing his fate, every word seems to have a poignant aura that makes it all the more memorable.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Christian Engler on January 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Joh F. Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize winning Profiles In Courage is not an in-depth historical text, true, and it should not be read that way. If any reader was and is expecting to find fascinating, long biographies of the eight men in this book, then they should alter their expectations. Rather, readers should use these profiles as a precursor to major biographies that are fatter and thicker with more detail.Whether Kennedy or his speechwriter wrote this book is irrevelent to me, but what he did when he wrote this book was to narrow it down to a very slim margin of what courage is. What is it? How do people -- especially people in politics -- get courage? What circumstance or circumstances in their lives imbued that very important characteristic into their belief system when serving the public at large? What Kennedy does is explore those key moments in the lives of these men that could have been responsible for the attainment of that trait. Kennedy's style of writing is gripping, immediate and has colorful tints of personality to it. For a quick and accurate historical/biographical fix, Profiles in Couage does the job quite nicely.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
John F. Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize winning book is a must read for all Americans interested in the importance of statesmanship and the courage to place principles above personal profit. Each chapter details the works of a U.S. legislator who made a significant impact on the credibility of the United States Constitution, often putting his or her career on the line to defend the foundations of the American republic. Many of these legislators are rarely spoken of today, but the continuing tradition of the democratic process of this nation owes a deep sense of gratitude to these statesmen.

At a time when many of us are questioning the character and the ambitions of our political leaders, this book is a worthy reminder to us that a few good people can make the difference. This book is timely and pertinent when cyncism abounds in the minds of many voters and taxpayers.
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