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Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy Hardcover – September 25, 2012
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The true value of this package is the CD which allows the listener to eavesdrop on "a president being president" as described by editor Ted Widmer. He claims that this is the closest to a JFK autobiography as we can ever get. While the audio quality on some of the entries is weak, on others the voice of the President is hauntingly clear and evocative. And the range of the selections is as wide as can be imagined. We hear the President finish a conversation with his daughter to be briefed by the CIA on their discovery of offensive missiles in Cuba. He argues with Mississippi Governor Barnett about how to restore order during the integration of the University ("How can I remove him, Governor, when there's a riot in the street and he may step out of the building and something happen to him?") JFK gives his regards to Yugoslavia Marshal Tito and chews out his assistant defense secretary for publicity about a costly furniture purchase ("You just sank the air force budget! You're crazy up there! Are they crazy? That silly bastard with his picture next to the bed?") In one call, he briefs former President Herbert Hoover about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Hoover emerges from a different world in which he was chief executive in 1928 and opens by observing, "It seems to me these recent events are rather incredible.Read more ›
This is a book of interesting nuggets. If you want complete histories, you will need to look elsewhere. But the nuggets can be very revealing. It's interesting to listen to his advisers suggest invading Cuba during the Missile Crisis... it's incredible to listen to JFK calmly try to examine what the Soviet Union was hoping to accomplish. Although JFK tends to be immortalized far too much, these tapes do reveal a cool thinker who doesn't let his emotions make his decisions for him.
There's funny stuff in there too... like when JFK practically loses his cool when he hears the Navy spent five thousand dollars dressing up a maternity ward for the First Lady... or how he thought the movie "PT-109" was too long.
With a book like this, you get out of it what you want. Personally, I found it interesting to "eavesdrop" on conversations that were, in many cases, top secret.
"...Kennedy was determined to have a reliable record of the words that were spoken in the White House. And so n July 1962, Secret Service agent installed a sophisticated taping system in the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room of the White House. The reasons for this installation were never explained, by Kennedy or anyone else, in fact, the very existence of the taping system was a closely held secret..."
"A vast amount of information was gathered by those recording devices--248 hours of meetings in the Oval Office and Cabinet Room, and 17 and a half hours of telephone conversations and dictated private reflections."
In the book's foreword, Caroline Kennedy, who was present during some of the secret recording sessions, states that: "I was always told that my father installed secret Oval Office recording devices after the Bay of Pigs disaster so that he could have an accurate account of who said what, in case of any later disputes as to the exact nature of the conversations." And while Caroline can now appreciate the importance of those tapes of actual history being made, at the time she and her brother were much too young to have understood much of what was being discussed.
The various transcripts of the conversations are made more understandable by the fact they are illustrated with pictures of JFK with the people he was meeting with.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great History of JFK and our country via the voice of JFK and many interesting politicians and former U.S. Presidents. 2 CDs but all transcripts are in print and easy to read.Published 24 days ago by Dakotalucky
You can't hear any of the many recordings in the book! Amazon says theres nothing they can do about it!Published 3 months ago by Chenz
Just an amazing read. So much history. A great deal of information that I had never known before.Published 9 months ago by John Tubert
I personally regard that a U. S. President that is not capable for concerning about Santa Cecilia Day is no worth talking about.Published 13 months ago by Yoshiyuki Mukudai
How does one play the audio content for the Kindle edition on the iPad?Published 23 months ago by mitchell