'LET US BEGIN ANEW' by Gerald S. Strober


An Oral History of the Kennedy Presidency
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 An engaging potpourri of oral reminiscences of the Kennedy Administration, many of them from insiders. Gossip about Camelot will always have a market, and this collection has plenty to hold the Kennedy-buff's attention. Lengthy special-pleading from Adlai Stevenson III, Norman Podhoretz, and a Batista supporter sits cheek-by-jowl with succinct observations by J.K. Galbraith and Walter Rostow. The Strobers (he: American Jews, etc.--not reviewed; she: a Newsweek editor) organize their material into 22 topics ranging from the 1960 campaign, Kennedy's political philosophy, and the Bay of Pigs fiasco to the problem of J. Edgar Hoover and the subtle ambiguities of the Kennedy-Johnson relationship. The 120 interviews include talks with Khrushchev's son; Willy Brandt; Bui Diem (former South Vietnamese ambassador to the US; and other international figures--but the more interesting discourse comes from those inside the Kennedy Administration and those who worked with it (Dean Rusk, George McGovern, William Colby, et al.) The infighting about--and post-mortems of--the Bay of Pigs are especially interesting as the participants highlight the problems Kennedy faced as he took office: vulnerability to accusations from expert Red-baiter Nixon (who knew about the Bay of Pigs plan) if he failed to act; bad advice from the Joint Chiefs of Staff; CIA incompetence and deception; and a scenario by which JFK was led into the invasion by hawks, who assumed that he would commit air support (even though the President had said he would not). A year later, by contrast, the now-more experienced Kennedy used his advisors effectively and acted with dispatch in the Cuban Missile Crisis. A fertile historical document of wildly divergent views (especially on Kennedy's ``rating'' as a President)--and long- lasting personal enmities.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-016720-3
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1993


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