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Jack Kennedy : elusive hero
Chris Matthews
Adult Nonfiction E842 .M346 2011

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Out of his gut interest in politics and love of reading biographies of American heroes, Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball, probes the details of the 35th president's life and career to find out what Jack was like. He begins this book wanting to discover how Kennedy became the leader who, at a moment of national fear and anger (the Cuban missile crisis), could cut so coldly and clearly to the truth. Drawing on interviews with friends and former staffers, as well as on such familiar biographical incidents as Kennedy's rescue of the PT-109 crew and his resulting back injury, Matthews reveals a man who through inner direction and tenacious will created himself out of the loneliness and illness of his youth and who taught himself the hard discipline of politics through his own triumphs and failures. For example, from the Bay of Pigs-considered one of Kennedy's failures-JFK learned that there must be both clarity and completion when the stakes are highest and most desperate; know your enemy and your goal; and hold fast to what you're attempting. With this resolve, Kennedy reacted to Khrushchev during the Cuban missile crisis with a detachment that resisted the easy path of war that others recommended. Matthews's stirring biography reveals Kennedy as a "fighting prince never free from pain, never far from trouble, and never accepting the world he found." Photos. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Matthews (Kennedy and Nixon), host of MSNBC's Hardball and former aide to the late Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, has come to know many JFK insiders. Here he uses to excellent effect his conversations and interviews with those officials and friends as he seeks the real John F. Kennedy, that "elusive man," as JFK's own wife called him. Using the first person as he seeks out a full portrait of JFK, Matthews gives us an eminently readable biography, following Kennedy through his sickly and less-than-happy youth, his wartime heroism, and his presidency during the most perilous years of the Cold War. Although Matthews's coverage of Kennedy's pre-presidential career and the 1960 election is nearly as long as that devoted to the presidency, his most significant conclusion is that Kennedy's decision not to invade Cuba in 1962 likely saved the world from nuclear annihilation and at the very least stopped Soviet premier Khrushchev from invading West Berlin. VERDICT Robert Dallek's An Unfinished Life and Richard Reeves's President Kennedy provide in-depth investigations of Kennedy's politics, but readers wanting a lively overview of Kennedy, the flawed man and inspiring leader, should turn to this poignant study. [See Prepub Alert, 5/23/11.]-Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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