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Jack: A Life Like No Other Paperback – October 8, 2002

3.4 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Written with commendable measure, Geoffrey Perret's Jack: A Life Like No Other is an informal but informed cradle-to-grave biography of JFK. Though Perret hardly ignores the intricacies of Kennedy's uneven and truncated presidency--specifically the cold war imbroglios of Southeast Asia, Berlin, and Cuba, as well as intractable domestic festerings of poverty and civil rights--his real interest lies with the man himself. Kennedy, in chronic ill health from childhood, emerges here as a singular and daunting contradiction, at once cautious and impulsive, generous and selfish. He was a brat and a man of the people, an inveterate womanizer and a devoted family man, well-read but hardly intellectual, a charmer with a ferocious temper. Perret's book--utilizing heretofore-unseen documents--is refreshingly candid and felicitously nonjudgmental. Neither hagiographical, mean-spirited, salacious, nor conspiratorial, Jack, rich in anecdotes, is a welcome, evenhanded addition to the Kennedy library. --H. O'Billovitch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

erret (Ulysses S. Grant, etc.) delivers a flawed biography of JFK in which the subject trapped in the crosshairs of shoddy research and poor prose style seems unable to come to life. Perret's machine-like, event-driven narrative delivers one well-known fact after another, but the author repeatedly fails to get close to the normally ingratiating Kennedy. Further, Perret's narrative is too often driven by the few new sources he's been able to discover. Thus due to a recently unearthed travel diary we get every detail concerning JFK's generally uninteresting 1937 tour of Europe. Other of the book's problems stem from sweeping generalizations and various errors of both fact and interpretation. Discussing Joseph Kennedy Sr.'s Wall Street activities, Perret informs readers that "big stock market speculators" were blamed (by whom? the public? the government? the newspapers?) for the 1929 stock market crash. As regards errors of fact, a few include Perret's misquoting the widely known Catholic prayer "Hail Mary," his references to "Catholic ministers" and his assertion that Jack's bad back did not date from childhood (as medical records clearly show). Perret embarks on yet another arguable sidetrack from reality when he asserts that Kennedy who always took great pains to separate his public life from his religious life backed out of a 1948 event involving Protestant ministers after being "ordered" to do so by "the Catholic hierarchy," and then took the unusual step of confessing the same to journalist Drew Pearson. The anecdote, originating with Pearson, deserves scrutiny that Perret does not seem disposed to deliver. And that, sadly, is the story of this book. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct. 30)Forecast: With this title, Laurence Leamer's The Kennedy Men and a couple of titles on Jacqueline Kennedy, it's another big Kennedy season. But how much more do readers want to know about America's almost-royal family? Perhaps a lot first serial rights on this have gone to GQ, and Perret is booked on the Today Show. He will tour N.Y., D.C. and Boston.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037576125X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375761256
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #967,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Geoffrey Perret presents a new look at the life of America's most beloved president; it is also "the first craddle to grave biography" of this intricate personality. While the book is worth reading for those who are looking for a single volume biography of Jack Kennedy, it is definitivley not the definitive life of JFK nor a top work of scholarship. It reads more like a big volume of Biography Magazine or any news weekly than a well written, well researched piece. It will entretain and you will learn something --the history parts are very good-, but it will not earn a place in history as Gilbert's or Jenkins biography of Churchill will do.
Nevertheless you should read this book. It is an easy read, very entretaining and revealing. Jack's sex-adiction, amazing ambition, relation to his imposing father, sense of destiny, will be exposed before your eyes. It makes you wonder about where character in our leaders went since then.
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Format: Hardcover
If you've never read Perret's books, you should know that he is simply a literary recycler. In other words, there is rarely anything new in his books, and in some past books, most notably his book on Ulysses Grant, there are some glaring errors that any author/historian and editor would be ashamed of.
This book is, however, a good read. In fact, while there's little that is new, there are pages here that are just as good as anything in a JFK biography. There's a grace to some of the writing in this book.
Sometimes I found myself cringing at some of his sources (Seymour Hersh's book comes to mind), but for the most part it's assembled well.
Despite the number of JFK books out there, there are few one volume titles out there. This might be a good place to start if that's what you're seeking.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
JFK definitely lived one of the most amazing and interesting lives in history, you can't even invent a story with so much triumph and tragedy, but this book was a very incomplete and odd portrait of the man, I really don't know what to make of it. The author quotes JFK as saying things that are so out of character for him, and takes incidents that have been mentioned in other books and totally twists them around. The one example I can think of is when Mr. Perret relates a well known story about Jackie listening outside the bathroom door as JFK's in the tub and gossiping with a friend, in every other book they say that JFK got out of the tub, brought her into the room and gently scolded her in a teasing manner about promising not to listen to his conversations, but in Perret's book he says that JFK bolted out of the tub in a rage, grabbed Jackie, yanked her by the hair and screamed, "You f#@*ing b#@ch!" That just doesn't sound like JFK's usual behavior from everything I've read about him before, and nobody has ever told the story that way. In addition to an almost unrecognizable JFK, there are numerous factual errors and the whole tone of the book is very strange, it's almost like a tabloid retelling of JFK's life, there's no depth to it at all, just fragmented anecdotes about trivial things nobody cares about. Perret also makes ridiculous and unsubstantiated claims, including one about Jackie's alleged plan to move to Hollywood and become a film star! Come on! Where did he even come up with that story and how can anyone take him seriously? Especially knowing how shy Jackie was and how she shunned the spotlight, and later discouraged John Jr. from an acting career.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
The picture on the cover of this book pretty much conveys the portrait of John F. Kennedy contained within; and for this reason, I couldn't put it down. In fact, I really wonder if it is possible to write a boring book about JFK. This is a man who loved life and lived it to the hilt; and to his credit, Perrot has succeeded in conveying this.
It would have been helpful, however, if the book were not marred by misstatements of fact. Two stand out in my mind. In one part of the book, we are told that the Kennedys held a grudge against Lyndon Johnson because he had helped spread the rumor of JFK's Addison's disease atteh Democratic convention in 1956. Yet in another part of the book, Perrot gives the date (correctly) as 1960. In truth, in 1956 LBJ was announcing Texas' votes for JFK in the balloting for vice president, hailing him as the "fighting sailor who bears the scars of battle." This is a far cry from rumor-mongering, which LBJ did indeed engage in in 1960, when he was a rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The most egregious error, however, is that Perrot has the Connallys sitting FACING the Kennedys in the limousine on that fateful day in November 1963, when it seemed that the world stood still and began shedding tears which continue to fall. When I read this, my first reaction was one of incredulity. For the images of that day are etched in the minds of so many people, including those like myself who, though living, were not old enough to remember JFK first-hand, that I cannot fathom how anyone who has seen the Zapruder film or the photos from that horrible event could get such a mundane fact so wrong.
It's the little things like this that make you wonder.
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