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A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House Paperback – June 3, 2002
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From the Publisher
has a very special meaning for me. In 1960, I was in the crowd on 39th St. and Broadway, in
The Garment Center in New York City, when Kennedy, his voice hoarse from relentless campaigning, addressed the crowd about his vision of a new America and a new generation taking charge.
As an important member of the Kennedy circle, a man who had Kennedy's ear, Schlesinger draws an unforgettable portrait of the man who captured the imagination and the hopes of people, not just in America, but all over the world. Standing in that crowd on 39th St., it was easy for me to believe that this man, seasoned by his experiences in World War II, his vision shaped by a knowledge of history and America's place in it, would not be beholden to the customs and beliefs of the leaders born in earlier generations.
Schlesinger makes this point emphatically. Kennedy was born later then Adlai Stevenson and later then Lyndon Johnson. Kennedy really believed, and communicated this belief eloquently, that men and women of his generation could really make a difference. Schlesinger's focus in A THOUSAND DAYS is the Kennedy Administration's role in foreign affairs. Even with that focus, what emerges is Kennedy's refreshing escape from the conventions of previous politicians. Kennedy's choice of Douglas Dillon as Secretary of the Treasury, was a choice that Schlesinger himself originally opposed. Kennedy chose Dillon because he thought he was the best man for the job, not because of his particular political persuasion. Shlesinger remarks that Nixon might have made Dillon his appointment had he won the election.
Kennedy's confrontations with Khrushchev, The Cuban Missile Crisis, the South American venture, the Alliance for Progress are presented clearly and convincingly.
We will never know what direction this country, or the world would have taken, had John Kennedy been granted another term in office. Surely, he would have learned from his mistakes, which Schlesinger reveals. The Kennedy imagination, intellect, and belief that his administration could really do something to make the world a better place will live with all of us as long as we live.
Another important record of this moment in history is David Halberstam's THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST, available in a Fawcett Columbine paperback edition.
George Davidson, Director of Production, The Ballantine Publishing Group --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, this is the classic study of the presidency of John F. Kennedy as told by a master historian who had the advantage of personally witnessing the great and tragic events of which he writes. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Arthur Schlesinger Jr., with an undeniably skilled pen and an exhaustive eye for detail, compiled one of the most thorough accounts of the Kennedy administration. I don't see how it could be that surprising, at this point in time, that participants in an administration generally tend to write books that view their president in a favorable light. Is anyone really that shocked?
Did he take an interest in JFK's love life or other prurient topics? No. Did he seek to write a definitive evaluation of the president? No. Schlesinger is honest - he is writing by and large as a participant and an observer and the value of this account is that it captures the outlook and motivations of the administration. He left it to other authors to write more critical accounts - the value his book holds comes from the personal observations he makes throughout it.
You don't have to like Kennedy to find this book valuable. Plenty of people critical of the Kennedy administration have studied this book carefully. Its value as a firsthand account of the administration is self-apparent. If it happens to challenge the Limbaugh right's view of JFK . . . well, oh well. The rest of us can approach this book with care and real interest, allow for natural instances of human bias, and still come away better informed for the effort.
Many of the customer reviewers criticized Schlesinger for his bias in Thousand Days. It is true that nothing that Kennedy does in Thousand Days is wrong, and nothing that Eisenhower did was right. In the 1030 pages of Thousand Days, the reader is hardpressed to find a single critical comment about Kennedy. There are certainly plenty of excuses, as well as repetitive references to the "seeds" of legislative programs sown by Kennedy that would inevitably (as implied by Schlesinger) revolutionized the US. However, Schlesinger did not attempt to hide this bias -- he was obviously star struck by the Kennedys and did not purport to give the Republican perspective on the Kennedy administration. In essence, the "bias" is so obvious it is easy to single it out and focus on what Schlesinger has to offer -- a studied and very inspiring first hand account of a presidential term from one of this country's leading historians.
I have read several dozen presidential biographies and can say that none have provided so much insight into presidential decision making. In a word, this book is "dense", full of ideas, theories and speculation about the workings of the executive branch when confronted with some of the greatest challenges of our time -- including the cold war, the Cuban missile crises, Bay of Pigs, civil rights and Vietnam. What's more, it was an absorbing and thought provoking read.Read more ›
While there are a few points in the book where Schlesinger props up his own importance at a particular point and digresses for about 50 pages or so the remainder of the book is very spot on with what was occurring, why decisions were made and what the effects of those decisions were. Sadly Schlesinger was not as involved in the Executive Committee (Ex-Com) as other special assistants were so much of what has happened at that point was not related in this book and the role that the committee played is kept to almost a minimum. I will point out that even as a Republican I found the book fair and while lacking in detail at some points it is still the most complete work that is published on Kennedy and to those who claim bias: the man worked in the Kennedy administration so take that bias into account as you read and enjoy a firsthand look at a complicated presidency and pivotal point in American history. Overall well worth the time to read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A consistently fascinating portrait of the Kennedy presidency from some one on the inside of many of the important decisions. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Andrew Gibbs
Earlier, in this space, I mistakenly posted a review of 'Kennedy'by Theodore Sorensen. In some way, Schlesinger's and Sorensen's book are twins. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Dabí Sánchez
In my opinion, absolutely the best written book on Kennedy. And yes some criticism may be warranted because the author was amongst JFK's inner circle, and may not have been... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Jonathon
Very deep. Very educational. So far above the other books. I laugh, I cry, I I learn. Read this book...if you dare to have your soul touched. .. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Eric Love