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To Move the World: JFK's Quest for Peace Hardcover – June 4, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812994922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812994926
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

UN special advisor Sachs (Price of Civilization) revisits the Cold War challenges facing the Kennedy administration during the Strangelove-ian era between October 1962 and September 1963. In this careful study, Sachs zeroes in on four key speeches Kennedy delivered in the months prior to his assassination in November 1963. Specifically, the book focuses on the American University commencement address known as the Peace Speech, also the theme of the author's Reith Lecture for the BBC six years ago. JFK, together with gifted speechwriter Ted Sorensen—his "intellectual alter ego"—set out a strategy for nations to live in "mutual tolerance", with ramifications that extend into the 21st century. Influenced by the writings of Winston Churchill and Pope John XXIII, the two collaborated to send a message of hope to the Class of 1963. Two weeks later Kennedy flew to Ireland where he delivered this message to members of the Irish Parliament. By July he announced a partial test ban treaty to the nation, and brought this news to the UN General Assembly. While sound bites of the Kennedy-Sorensen collaboration echo in modern classrooms—"Ask not what your country can do for you"—the messages in these four speeches seem all too pertinent today. (June)

Review

“This book is more than merely an exegesis of the major speeches of the last year of the Kennedy presidency. Rather, it presents Kennedy’s approach to achieving peace as a model for leaders of today. . . . The book is rife with lessons for the current administration, given its virtual deadlock with Congress on issues including, but not limited to, gun legislation, the United Nations Treaty on Disabilities, [and] immigration reform. . . . We cannot know how many more steps might have been taken under Kennedy’s leadership, but To Move the World urges us to continue on the journey.”Chicago Tribune

“In this careful study, Sachs zeroes in on four key speeches Kennedy delivered in the months prior to his assassination. . . . JFK, together with gifted speechwriter Ted Sorensen—his ‘intellectual alter ego’—set out a strategy for nations to live in ‘mutual tolerance,’ with ramifications that extend into the twenty-first century. . . . While sound bites of the Kennedy-Sorensen collaboration echo in modern classrooms—‘Ask not what your country can do for you’—the messages in these four speeches seem all too pertinent today.”Publishers Weekly

“After years trying to work out how underperforming economies can reach their full potential, [Jeffrey D. Sachs] has taken time out to offer an act of homage to his childhood hero—John F. Kennedy. And he has singled out one of JFK’s speeches for particular praise. . . . The true masterpiece, he believes, was a speech delivered to the American University in Washington DC in June 1963 and generally referred to as the Peace Speech. Sachs has come up with an argument making the case that the Peace Speech deserves wider recognition. . . . Why then does Sachs see the Peace Speech as so important? As he convincingly argues, it is all about context. Before the speech, he says, both sides had unrelentingly used Cold War rhetoric. In the last year of his life, emboldened by his success in defusing the Cuban missile crisis, JFK handled issues of international security with a new confidence and in a new way. . . . Sachs makes his case.”The Spectator

More About the Author

Jeffrey D. Sachs is the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals. He is internationally renowned for his work as an economic adviser to governments around the world.

Customer Reviews

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Sachs does a good job of carefully examining Kennedy's rhetoric.
Stephen N. Greenleaf
Kennedy's speech was so positive that Khrushchev allowed it to be rebroadcast in the Soviet Union and the transcript reprinted in the press; a rare event indeed!
Todd Bartholomew
All in all the book is highly relevant, interesting and also as far as far as I can assess linguistically elegant and precise.
Mats Jacobsson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A. Jogalekar TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Because of the relatively short duration of his Presidency, historians sometimes find themselves divided on John F. Kennedy's legacy. JFK usually features high on both popular and critical polls, but some are hard-pressed to compare his policy achievements with those of say, FDR or Ronald Reagan who enjoyed eight-year or longer terms. Yet, as noted economist Jeffrey Sachs shows us in this sensitive and focused analysis of JFK's dedication to peacemaking, during his short tenure Kennedy created a solid blueprint for peace and stability between nations that set the stage not only for the Cold War but for the age beyond it. The generality of his vision of peace have made his words immortal.

In promoting this vision Kennedy demonstrated both wisdom beyond his young years and courage. Most of Sachs's book is a detailed and thoughtful analysis of his most important speeches, prefaced by other relevant speeches by leaders like Eisenhower and Churchill. These speeches were inspired by close calls like the Cuban Missile Crisis which convinced Kennedy of the futility of nuclear war. The book describes how JFK carefully studied his predecessors' words - including Eisenhower's iconic speech warning of the dangers of defense spending and the military-industrial complex - and built upon them to erect his own lasting tribute to peace between nations. One thing that Sachs describes well is JFK's courage in standing up to the hardliners in the military and the Senate; this was the height of the Cold War, after all, and it took a lot of political will and just plain old guts to loudly proclaim a desire for peace with the Soviet Union. Yet, in speech after speech, JFK persevered with his vision of a safe world using words that combined pragmatism with idealism.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mats Jacobsson on January 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Highly relevant slant on JFK. The fact that shortly after the peaceful resolution of the Cuban missile crises JFK as well as Nikita Chrustjev were done away with, one by assassination, the other in a non-violent coup puts focus on the fact that both men had to overcome stiff resistence from their respective military industrial complex before a negotiated settlement of the crises could be reached.

The world was lucky in other words. If the two statesmen haden't persevered we might not be here today. The not so much spoken about fact that NATO withdrew middle range nuclear missiles from Turkey as a precondition to the settlement is brought out and makes the chain of events easier to understand. The crucial teamwork with Ted Sorensen is interesting and the importance of which was a cause of some jealosy on the part of the Republican presidential candidate, Richard Nixon.

The annexed speeches are well worth reading carefully.

All in all the book is highly relevant, interesting and also as far as far as I can assess linguistically elegant and precise.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. on January 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To appreciate the power of this book, one has to understand the world from the perspective of the Cold War and early 1960's America. The growth of JFK as a statesman and a pragmatist is covered effectively by Jeffrey Sachs. At the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis an unexpected alliance for world peace was formed by JFK, Khrushchev, and Pope John XXIII . Despite strong opposition from hawks in the US and the USSR, these three men sought to bring "not merely peace in our time, but peace for all time." As Kennedy stated in his American University speech in June of 1963. Ironically, this speech was given just a week after the death of Pope John XXIII, and more ominously, within the next 16 months, Kennedy would be murdered, and Khrushchev would be forced from office. No world leader since JFK has sought "to move the world" in pursuit of peace. His death in Dallas continues to reverberate through time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. Nakrin on November 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
By illuminating President Kennedy's vision for peace, Professor Sachs has emphasized what a dark day November 22, 1963 really was. On that day the values of respect for reason and respect for the aspirations of all the people who inhabit the planet became subordinate to the values of domination and greed. If humankind ceases to exist in a meaningful way, JFK's assassination may have been the key milestone on that tragic path. In October of 1962, JFK's vision saved humankind from extinction. Hopefully, Professor Sachs' reinvigoration of JFK's vision and values can rescue us from the colossal threats we currently face, and restore our faith in our ability to move the world in a better direction.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Todd Bartholomew TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
After the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev knew they had to dial back tensions. The time and space for a potential nuclear exchange had closed so much that Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) was a reality; there would be no chance for a second exchange or protracted warfare. To that end Kennedy began to realize the bad advice he was receiving from both the Intelligence Community and the Military. If change in policy was going to come it was going to have to come from him. Kennedy was certainly a scholar of history and knew that an arms race was not only dangerous but could result in a dramatic and unforeseen tragedy. He knew both the US and the Soviet Union had to change how we dealt with our atomic weaponry and sought to move in that direction. This shift was subtle, a move from a balance of terror to a sense of coexistence bordering on the détente reached in later years, but change had to come! Sadly Kennedy doesn't get much credit for his efforts not only to ratchet down tensions, limit the number of nuclear weapons, and ending above ground testing as he should. By 1963 Kennedy was making a series of speeches to dial down tensions and Sachs points out that Kennedy's speech at American University's commencement in June of 1963 in particular was one of the best speeches Kennedy had ever given, advocating for a test ban treaty and espousing a desire for peace between the US and the Soviet Union. To Sachs this speech was even more important than Kennedy's Berlin speech not long after and has sadly been ignored by scholars for its impact and import. The Soviet Union seemed responsive and receptive to this speech and elected to move away from nuclear brinksmanship and encouraging proxy conflicts.Read more ›
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