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JFK in the Senate: Pathway to the Presidency by [Shaw, John T.]
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JFK in the Senate: Pathway to the Presidency Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Length: 252 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews


“Shaw's account deftly balances anecdote and analysis, making this a valuable read for those interested in both J.F.K. the pol and J.F.K. the person.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“John F. Kennedy's Senate career is the most important, overlooked chapter in JFK's storied political life. Shaw has delivered a masterful corrective. Mining newly available archival materials, JFK in the Senate offers a riveting and revealing account of Kennedy's transformation from unremarkable freshman congressman to dynamic presidential contender. Sure to be a classic in Kennedy scholarship and American presidential history.” ―Amy Zegart, Stanford University professor and Hoover Institution fellow

“Like most Americans, I usually think of John F. Kennedy as an inspiring young president. But we sometimes forget that before he was elected in 1960 he had served for eight interesting and consequential years as the junior senator from Massachusetts. We learn in this book that JFK entered the Senate as an uncertain backbencher and grew into a formidable presidential candidate and compelling American statesman. Shaw gives us a vivid, memorable account of how this transformation occurred.” ―Tom Daschle, former Senate Majority Leader

“Though many of us have tried, only Warren Harding, John Kennedy and Barack Obama made the jump straight from the Senate to the White House. Here we learn how Kennedy prepared for the 1960 campaign and the presidency.” ―Richard Lugar, former Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

“A captivating account of Kennedy's often overlooked formative years in the Senate. A fascinating read.” ―Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania

“A compelling exploration of an understudied period in John F. Kennedy's political life. John Shaw reminds us again of Kennedy's unique political gifts. By tracing Kennedy's intellectual evolution over his Senate years, Shaw provides a new window into JFK's presidency and legacy.” ―John Podesta, chairman, Center for American Progress

“John Shaw has thoughtfully and fully examined a period of John F. Kennedy's career that has been too often glossed over. By illuminating Senator Kennedy's distinctive contributions in both domestic and foreign policy, Shaw effectively refutes the cliche that Kenney was an inconsequential senator.” ―Ira Shapiro, author of The Last Great Senate

About the Author

John T. Shaw is a senior correspondent and vice president for Market News International and a contributing writer for the Washington Diplomat. He is a frequent guest on C-SPAN, where he discusses Congress, as well as on KPCC, an NPR affiliate in Los Angeles. He has also appeared on the "PBS News Hour." Shaw was a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University for six years, and he speaks frequently to seminars for diplomats in Washington. He lives in Washington, DC.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2566 KB
  • Print Length: 252 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (October 15, 2013)
  • Publication Date: October 15, 2013
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EGJAZ06
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,140,790 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent read. John Shaw has other fine books and this is his best. If you are looking for Kennedy anecdotes on Kennedy's infidelities or assassination theories, this is the wrong book. This is an insightful book that goes in depth on Kennedy's Senate years. It gives a good perspective on how Kennedy developed as a person into a solid presidential candidate and what his contributions were as a legislature and member of the Senate. The focus gives new insights - it reminds me of Band of Rivals. Having read many things about Lincoln, the perspective of that book gave me a different look and much more knowledge of the man and his career. This book does the same thing - by offering a detailed perspective on the time JFK spent in the Senate. It has substance but is not dense, it is well told and a pleasure to read.
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Format: Hardcover
The book is an account of JFK prior to becoming president. It starts with his academic background at Harvard, continuing with his five years in the H.R. and especially his Senate term from 1953 to resignation for the presidency in 1960. He was a prolific reader of history. The book coves writing of 'While England Slept', 'Profiles in Courage' and 'The Strategy of Peace' while he was a senator.

Kennedy switched from campaigning on a platform of economic improvement for NE and Mass. to focus on national and foreign policy as he became better known as a presidential contender. It seems that his Senate main credit was the Kennedy Commission to pick the 5 greatest senators in history with resulting commission of paintings to hang in the Capitol. I found the discussions of the candidates very interesting, but that's history not a significant achievement. Most interesting is the account of Kennedy's relationship with other senators of the era. LBJ, Barry Goldwater, Mike Mansfield, Richard Russel, Hubert Humphrey, Henry 'Scoop' Jackson and Joe McCarthy are prominently cited with many more. There is an interesting account of his run for the presidency with advisors Ted Sorenson, J.K. Galbraith, W.W. Rostow, and Paul Samuelson.

In considering JFK's Senate legacy LBJ said Kennedy did little. Neither Truman nor Eisenhower was impressed. I remember Truman suggesting that he should wait longer before a presidential run. The book shows the footprint from his Senate career mostly about publicity. Shaw ends by saying that history's verdict on JFK's Senate record is high average. The book doesn't bear that out. It describes his Senate legacy as books and publicity.

The book contains interesting historical insight, although with minimal current significance.
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Format: Hardcover
Shaw has crafted a carefully researched look at JFK's fourteen-years in Congress. He reminds us that Kennedy was not born in the White House and shows in engaging detail how his rise to the presidency was both a reflection of his unique personality and the harbinger of a new presidential politics -- for good or ill. This book is particularly suited to those who want a behind-the-scenes look at major league American politics.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fresh, insightful view of the "back story" of JFK's rise through the Senate to the White House. The narrative is quick moving and deep, full of little known details and connections from the Senate floor in the 1950's that paint a portrait of one of our best loved Presidents, revealing how acutely Kennedy was of the legacy he was building for history to look back on his time serving his country.
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Format: Hardcover
Many authors have tried to give their insight about JFK, but most of them fall into the same pitfalls (his affairs, his assassination, Khrushchev, etc). But not all of them talk about his time BECOMING the JFK we all know about.

John T. Shaw goes deeply into his congressional years and how they shaped him. His research backs up his facts, and his facts back up his credibility as an author. The way he narrates the book has a good flow, not only because of the specific timeline he has to cover, but because he doesn't skip or jump around years. The way it is written is very easy to read, but more importantly, to understand. The life of a president, as well as his points of view, shape up a lot during the years preceding his decision to run, and this is portrayed very well in the book.

The only thing I would add to this book would be more pages to turn, since it left me wanting more and more. As Winston Churchill, who is mentioned a few times, once said regarding speeches, this book is like a womans skirt: "short enough to cover the subject, and long enough to create interest". This is a book I will keep on recommending to whoever is interested not only in JFK, or his legacy, but politics in general.
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Format: Hardcover
The three-term Congressman who entered the Senate in January 1953 wasn't thought to be a future President at any time, let alone by the end of the decade. As John T. Shaw chronicles in JFK in the Senate, John Kennedy saw the U.S. Senate as a stepping stone to achieve the presidency. And in his nearly eight years in the upper chamber, Kennedy learned lessons that helped him to be a better politician and help secure him the nomination and later election.

Shaw's study of Kennedy in the Senate starts with a basic outline of his life with a focus more on his first Congressional and Senate campaigns respectively than anything else, including his three-terms in the House. Shaw's then looks at Kennedy time in the Senate in three aspects: domestic, foreign, and finally his role documenting the institution's history. Shaw concludes by showing how Kennedy used the Senate to launch is campaign for 1960.

The focus on Kennedy in relation to the Senate is revealing especially as Shaw brings to the reader's attention things not previously emphasized. The first was Kennedy's legislative work on the labor issue as well as he learned to balance regional and national economic issues, issues that seemed glossed over or neglected in larger studies of Kennedy's life. The second was Kennedy's perspectives on foreign policy while in both the House and Senate including his critiques of the Truman and Eisenhower administrations' foreign policy. Shaw reveals how Kennedy's views and critiques turned out to be astute in the hindsight of history.
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