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Jack 1939 Hardcover – July 5, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The pace is so propulsive that you’ll read every word… Mathews’s ability to weave fact into her tale is nothing short of remarkable… there are precious few entertainments this captivating.”—The Washington Post

“One of the most deliciously high-concept thrillers imaginable.”—The New Yorker

“A brisk thriller that defies the odds… It's no small feat to take a historic figure who looms as large in real life as John F. Kennedy, place him in an improbable fantasy and not strain credulity. But in this case, Mathews has accomplished her mission.”—USA Today

“Grounding her thriller in spycraft and historical detail, Ms. Mathews pulls it off.”—New York Times Book Review

“Francine Mathews has a way of making you believe that improbable situations just might be true… Jack 1939 is a complicated thriller, filled with trust and betrayal.”—Denver Post

“Deliciously inventive.”—MORE Magazine

“A highly entertaining cocktail of 20th century political history and sexy-spy-novel tropes.”—The Daily Beast

“A rollicking adventure story… an awful lot of fun.”—Financial Times

“Tautly written…thrilling, credible, and memorable.”—The Historical Novel Society

“Imaginative, well-researched… an intriguing look at pre-WWII politics, both in the U.S. and Europe, as well as a meticulous character study of the future president.”—Publishers Weekly

“Complex and thrilling in equal parts.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“Vivid and sexy… Mathews’ strobe-light, fact-infused drama of covert pre-WWII operations is riveting.”—Booklist

“Filled with memorable characters both fictional and historical, Mathews provides an edge-of-the-seat journey, filled with haunting images that readers won’t soon forget… Aficionados of espionage fiction, history, the Kennedy family, World War II and seat-of-the-pants excitement will devour this book, a must-read story that stands out from the pack. It’ll make you want to turn back to your history books once again.”—BookPage

“Francine Mathews delivers a marvel: a thriller with genuine heart. This is a delicious imagining of one of the 20th century’s most fascinating figures, wrapped up in a gripping story of espionage.” – Eleanor Brown, bestselling author of the The Weird Sisters

“Like JFK himself, this book is smart, sexy and unafraid of taking risks. With nimble prose and easy charm, Francine Mathews leads us beyond the frontiers of history to make us believe in her vision of a young Kennedy at large in a dark world of prewar spies and secrets.” – Dan Fesperman, author of Lie in the Dark

“A brilliantly conceived, riveting tightrope race across Europe in the predawn of World War II." – Stephen White, author of Line of Fire and The Last Lie

“A triumph: an exciting thriller, an intriguing exploration of a troubled time, and an absorbing take on the early history of one of America’s most iconic figures. Highly recommended.” – Iain Pears, bestselling author of An Instance of the Fingerpost --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Francine Mathews is the author of more than twenty novels of mystery, history, and suspense. Her historical thriller The Alibi Club was named one of the fifteen best novels of 2006 by Publishers Weekly. A graduate of Princeton and Stanford, she spent four years as an intelligence analyst at the CIA and presently lives and works in Colorado.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; First Edition edition (July 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594487197
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594487194
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,014,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ms Winston VINE VOICE on June 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The author of "Jack 1939," Francine Mathews, is a former analyst with the CIA, and the author of twenty novels. She is, therefore, an experienced writer and someone who has some real world experience with foreign intelligence gathering. I found her novel to be highly entertaining and read it in two days. The operative word in that last sentence is NOVEL, for that is what this is, and the author herself reminds the reader of that in the note following the final chapter. Inspired by a photograph of twenty year old John (Jack) Fitzgerald Kennedy taken in Nuremburg, German in 1937, Ms Mathews uses that as a jumping-off point to have President Franklin Roosevelt recruit the future president Kennedy as an agent. Since there was no formal American intelligence network in place in 1939, Kenndy is to attempt to pick up as much information possible about Germany's intentions regarding the 1940 election while seemingly on a trip gathering information on his senior thesis (which became "Why England Slept"). Roosevelt confided in Kennedy that he intended to run for a third term, and speculated that the Nazi government would prefer to have an isolationist voted into the office of the president come the 1940 election. The author's Roosevelt was very candid with Jack Kennedy in presenting his negative views of the young man's father -- Joseph P. Kennedy, the ambassador to England -- as an isolationist with ambitions of his own.

Against this background, Jack Kennedy found himself far more embroiled in danger than he ever thought when he agreed to take the assignment. There is a killer on his trail who has struck at least three times prior to Jack arriving in England and he finds himself in a romantic relationship with a slightly older married Englishwoman (29 to his 22, but far more worldly).
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Francine Matthews after twenty some novels knows her craft. She also writes under the name Stephanie Barron and has gained a large following for her series of novels centered on Jane Austen mysteries. Another factor that makes her the obvious choice of server of this excellent novel is the fact that she served as an analyst for the CIA. Blend these ingredients an out comes this intensely entertaining novel JACK 1939 a story whose central characters included not only the JFK at age 22 years, but also Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Neville Chamberlain, J. Edgar Hoover, Adolph Hitler and a battery of newly created but equally credible character that help propel this intriguing thriller along. Matthews manages to sharpen out information about these critical figures in a straightforward manner that adds to our appreciation of famous people about whom there are still rarely known facts. She opens her book with a long look at the 22 year old John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the sickly and clearly secondary son of the wealthy Joseph and Rose Kennedy as he is hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic for complications of agranulocytosis and a chronic gastrointestinal disease requiring subcutaneous patches of DOCA (desoxycorticosterone acetate) to be placed by JFK under a cut flap in his leg - further evidence that JFK was man who simply did not know defeat.

The novel deals with FDR's conviction that Hitler is sending money into the USA to underwrite a campaign to prevent FDR from gaining a third term as President: FDR is wary of Hitler's desire for world dominance and will stop at nothing to prevent that from including the USA.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
True historians who demand that their novels be precisely accurate may have a problem with this book. On the other hand, readers who enjoy a good tale and subtly smile at accurate references will find Jack 1939 to be a most pleasing tale.

Francine Mathews' creative sense to integrate a young Jack Kennedy into the forthcoming years of World War II is a masterful move. Although she has taken creative license in the stories structure, she more than makes up for it by deftly inserting characters and situations into the tale as one might imagine them: Ambassador Joe Kennedy, a Roosevelt-hater who the president sent to England principally to keep him out of the way as the war neared; J. Edgar Hoover, a power-hungry agent determined to build his own power base; Reinhard Heyrich, Gestapo leader who manipulated and destroyed through his dreaded and feared police force.

Most enjoyably, Mathews imagines details surrounding the Kennedy family as they toured the world. Kick, perhaps the least known of the Kennedy daughters, young Teddy and of course, Jack, present glimpses of what it may have been like to grown up in a family unencombered by the Depression or the concerns of a struggling world.

Mathews attention to small details is what makes this book interesting to me. Imagine Franklin Roosevelt sitting in a Pullman beneath the Waldorf Hotel; Jack Kennedy trying to understand how to send Morse Code; Rose Kennedy visiting the Middle East.

The beauty of this story is not so much in the tale... athough I found it riveting and well structure, but moreso in the people, places and events that folded it all together. It is an atmospheric book with a good, entertaining tale. If you have any sense of the times and characters of the 30s and 40s, this tale will entertain you quite handsomely.
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