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President Kennedy: Profile of Power Paperback – November 1, 1994

4.7 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to Reeves, Kennedy had little ideology. "And he had less emotion. What he had was attitude . . . ." Based on hundreds of interviews and close study of presidential papers and telephone transcripts, New Yorker writer Reeves ( Reagan Detour ) traces JFK's thoughts and actions through his nearly three years as president. No previous profile has included as many details on how he dealt with the Bay of Pigs, the conflict with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev over Berlin, the Cuban missile crisis, Southeast Asia and other foreign policy issues. On the domestic front, Reeves offers fresh material about JFK's equivocating initial response to the civil rights movement and the bold decision to integrate Southern universities that followed. Nor does Reeves ignore the inner life of the White House, bringing into sharper focus JFK's physical disabilities, the preliminary plans for the 1964 campaign and the role Attorney General Robert Kennedy played as "a sort of surrogate President" at crucial moments. Precise and penetrating in its analysis, Reeves's microscopic examination of Kennedy during his presidency makes for compelling reading right down to such trivialities as his little economies (he was "cheap in the way rich people often are"), and even his throwaway lines as, after seeing one popularity poll, JFK quipped, "Jesus, it's like Ike. The worse you do, the better they like you." Photos. First serial to American Heritage; BOMC and History Book Club alternates; author tour. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Reeves, the veteran journalist who has written books on Presidents Ford and Reagan, here offers an excellent study of Kennedy as crisis manager. He presents Kennedy as neither an amoral playboy nor the ruler of Camelot but a poorly prepared president with mediocre congressional experience. Each chapter presents a different day in the administration--a unique format that effectively reveals how Kennedy responded to simultaneous harrowing issues. The Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crises, Vietnam, and the diplomacy of arms reduction illustrate how Kennedy was constrained by the unshakable Cold War fear of monolithic communism. This approachable investigation of Kennedy's use of power, read in tandem with Nigel Hamilton's JFK: Reckless Youth ( LJ 10/15/92), provides a thorough, even-handed review of the Kennedy years. Highly recommended for most public libraries and all subject collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/93. -- Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671892894
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671892890
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 2.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Along with Herbert Parmet's "Jack: The Struggles of John F. Kennedy", Richard Reeves' "President Kennedy" is one of the two best biographies that I have read about a legendary (and much-romanticized) American President. Unlike Thomas Reeves' hatchet-job "A Question of Character", which basically could be called a job in "character assassination"; or books such as Arthur Schlesinger's "A Thousand Days", which idolize Kennedy and ignore his flaws and failures as President, Richard Reeve's book maintains an admirably objective and balanced view of our 35th President. Reeve's Kennedy is neither a liberal saint nor a debauched devil, but is instead a complicated and often frustrating man who is woefully unprepared for the Oval Office when he moves in in January 1961, but does possess a great many gifts that save him when he gets into trouble. Reeve's Kennedy makes many mistakes early on in his Administration - the Bay of Pigs, his disastrous summit with the Soviet Union's Nikita Krushchev in Vienna, and his reckless womanizing in private, which as Reeves notes might well have become public knowledge if some enterprising reporter had ever followed JFK's movements very closely. Yet Kennedy does learn from at least some of his mistakes, and his handling of the Berlin Wall Crisis and the Cuban Missile Crisis was excellent. Whether Kennedy would ever have grown into a great President is a matter of debate among historians, and after reading this book I had my answer - JFK was a good President in many ways, but he probably would never have become a great one, due to his overly cautious nature on civil rights and the other great issues of the sixties. In short, this is a very well-written, impressively researched, and very fair-minded look at one of our most difficult Presidents to study and write about...this should be required reading for anyone who's interested in the 1960's, the Kennedys, or American politics.
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Format: Paperback
Reeves has quite literally stripped away the varnish that has accumulated over the years on the 1000 Days of Jack Kennedy. He has assembled a journal of sorts, giving the reader a fast-moving account of one of America's most enigmatic presidents. It is an interesting mixture of policy decisions, candid observations and revealing episodes that give one of the most complete pictures of President Kennedy.
The narrative starts a few days before the administration took office with the cabinet decisions that were being made, then guides the reader through the tumultuous inauguration ceremonies both on stage and backstage. Reeves deals with the troubling first 100 days of the administration in a very candid way, showing the indecision of Kennedy when it came to Cuba and Berlin. Kennedy was being pulled in all directions, putting too much faith in the CIA and dismissing the criticisms of his newly assembled cabinet. Eventually, Kennedy found his feet and began to project the confidence that had won him the presidency.
Reeves provides so many telling anecdotes, especially concerning Kennedy's health, which was never very good. This was one of the first books to reveal Kennedy's drug dependency to stave off Addison's disease and his excrutiating back pains. There is also Hugh Sidey's memorable swimming pool interview.
The book feels as though it were written by an aide close to Kennedy during his administration. Reeves has assembled an impressive array of quotes and first person observations into a seamless narrative. He has demystified the myth of Camelot, without diminishing the stature of the man. Reeves evocatively illustrates how Kennedy was able to project power in spite of his numerous handicaps, both physical and political.
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Format: Paperback
The author took an interesting view of the subject matter, instead of a dry history lecture the author tries to put the reader in the shoes of JFK and really show you what it was like to be him or at least with him in his presidency. I learned a lot from this book, the unorganized and stumbling start to his presidency, his lack of attention and in depth understanding of what was going to happen with the bay of pigs and his relationship with Khrushshev were all very interesting and new for me. I was also struck by how conservative this Democratic President was and his almost forced work on the Civil Rights issues. The book gives you a real look at the three years he was in office, not an overly positive Camelot view and not a tabloid style gossip sheet only talking about women.
What was so great is that the author was able to obtain so many actual conversations that JFK had with staff. You could really get a sense of the man from the interactions that the author chose to detail. Based on the bibliography and source notes, you can tell that the author spent a great deal of time on research and it shows in the quality of the book. One last point is that I also gained a better understanding of LBJ and the differences in how much more liberal he was then JFK. My only issue, and it is minor, is the end of the book did tend to drag a bit with the Vietnam War info. I also would have liked a bit more detail on the Cuban missile crises, but the author did a good job given the overall time frame and space limitations the book offered. The details of some of the letters being passed back and forth could have been left out of the book for me. Overall the book was very good and interesting. I do not think you need to be a political junkie to enjoy the book.
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