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JFK's Last Hundred Days: The Transformation of a Man and the Emergence of a Great President Hardcover – July 16, 2013
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Do President Kennedy’s final 100 days offer hints about what sort of leader (and man) he might have become? Author-historian Clarke thinks they do. The period began in tragedy: the death of the Kennedys’ two-day-old son, Patrick. Both parents were devastated; Jack’s concern for Jackie, who had suffered postpartum depression after John’s birth, seems to have led him to a serious effort to be a better husband and father. Certainly, Jackie seems to have discerned a genuine improvement that autumn. Clarke vividly portrays the welter of issues a U.S. president juggles. In foreign policy, the test-ban treaty, Vietnam, and Cuba were central, but Kennedy also aimed to reframe long-term relationships with the USSR, China, Europe, and Latin America. On the home front, civil rights was clearly dominant, but, during these days, Kennedy was pressing Congress to pass the “stimulus tax cut” and immigration reform as well as the civil rights bill and working with advisors and cabinet members on what would become Medicare and the War on Poverty. A fascinating analysis of what was . . . and what might have been. --Mary Carroll
Christian Science Monitor's 10 Best Books of July
An Amazon Best History Pick July 2013
A Daily Beast "Brainy Beach Read"
An Apple iBooks Best Book of August
Michicko Kakutani, New York Times:
" . . . [a] vivid portrait of Kennedy as an immensely complex human being: by turns detached and charismatic, a hard-nosed pol and a closet romantic, cautious in his decision making but reckless in his womanizing."
The Wall Street Journal:
“JFK's Last Hundred Days is a superb piece of writing—richly detailed and, considering that the end is all too well known, surprisingly enthralling.”
“Thurston Clarke's JFK's Last Hundred Days manages to surprise and…to delight.”
"A real page-turner… makes for a great and stimulating vacation read… deftly weav[es] together the private, personal, and intimate with the public, the political, and the-then-secret public and political, makes one want to keep reading to find out even more of the scoop."
“Clarke does an interesting and in many ways persuasive job of what he proposes at the beginning: ‘to view John F. Kennedy through every prism and search through all his compartments during the crucial last hundred days of his life—days that saw him finally beginning to realize his potential as a man and a president—in order to solve the most tantalizing mystery of all: not who killed him, but who he was when he was killed, and where he would have led us.’”
"Mr. Clarke is a good storyteller…[He] offers an enjoyable snapshot of the day-to-day workings of the presidency."
Christian Science Monitor:
"[A] compelling portrait of one of the towering figures of 20th-cnetury America."
"There will be few, if any, contributions more entertaining and informative than Thurston Clarke's comprehensive chronological telling of his last 100 days in office."
Dallas Morning News:
"A gracefully written, fresh look at the oft-told story."
“Thurston Clarke has written a superb book.”
"A fascinating analysis of what was… and what might have been."
Kirkus Reviews (starred):
"Certainly demonstrates that three often painful years in office had taught Kennedy valuable lessons… Clarke delivers a thoroughly delightful portrait."
"A graceful, bittersweet chronicle… Clarke clearly admires Kennedy but does not ignore his flaws… an absorbing narrative."
"Camelot devotees will relish insider details, from descriptions of an obviously depressed Vice President Johnson 'growling at anyone who disturbed him' to dismissive jabs at Sen. Barry Goldwater taken from the president’s official diary."
Jon Meacham, New York Times bestselling author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power:
"Thurston Clarke has done the seemingly impossible: he has found a revealing new angle of vision on John F. Kennedy that brings the president and his times back to vivid life. This is excellent narrative history."
Strobe Talbott, President, Brookings Institution:
“Clarke makes the drama, the excitement, and the dark side of Camelot seem like only yesterday—indeed, you feel as though you’re right there, in the Kennedy White House, at Hyannis Port, and aboard Air Force One with JFK, today.”
Bob Herbert, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos and former Op-Ed Columnist for the New York Times:
"A fascinating, close-up look at the final dramatic months of a young president's life. Thurston Clarke's portrait of Kennedy is masterful in this compelling convergence of history and biography."
Douglas Brinkley, New York Times bestselling author of Cronkite:
"The three-months before President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas were frenetic times: civil rights, Vietnam, Berlin and reelection were on his mind. Thurston Clarke's JFK's Last Hundred Days does a marvelous job of reliving Camelot's fragile promise. Clarke is a masterful storyteller and able researcher. This book sings. Highly recommended."
"The noted historian makes the case that JFK, who had just lost his infant son, was on the verge of vast achievement before his assassination."
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Top Customer Reviews
As shown in the worldwide mourning following his death, and documented by Clarke, "the diplomat Chip Bohlen thought that when he was killed and Johnson sworn in, it represented 'the future giving way to the present or the past'"(353), it shows the impact that he had on America, and it made me believe that he could have made created a new American renaissance.
I have read many accounts of the Kennedy years and this ranks high both in terms of perspective and writing weaving the familiar with the new insights. 5 stars indeed.