JOHN KENNEDY: A Political Profile by James MacGregor Burns
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JOHN KENNEDY: A Political Profile

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KIRKUS REVIEW

James MacGregor Burns is the author of The Lion and the Fox, an exceptional political biography of Roosevelt. He brings to this analysis of the most public democratic candidate for president the same thorough-going, often devastating objectivity that characterized his touted study of FDR. He traces John Fitzgerald Kennedy's well-known Boston Irish ancestry to the point where it could be remarked that Jack Kennedy is ""the first Irish Brahmin"". His school record, which was undistinguished except for a thesis he published as a Harvard senior on the ""appeasement at Munich""; his war-time career from which he emerged a hero; his decision to go into politics; his voting record as a Congressman and Senator, all are treated with a view to discovering what turn of events combined to make Kennedy the man he is: ""a serious, driven man who is about as casual as a cash register"", a man who presents a profile in caution and moderation. Regarding Kennedy's handling of the McCarthy issue Burns notes that on almost every issue involving McCarthyism Kennedy voted against McCarthy. Yet on the question of McCarthy himself Kennedy took no stand -- and this antagonized his more liberal critics, particularly Mrs. Roosevelt. His biographer deals at length with Kennedy and the Catholics, analyzing his repeated statements that his religion is a private matter -- an attitude for which he has been severely criticized, especially after the Look article, in some sections of the Catholic press. Burns suggests that behind some of the liberal suspicion of Kennedy is not so much distaste for his views as worry over his temperament. His own conclusion? Kennedy does stand in the center of the Wilson-Roosevelt-Truman tradition but ""whether he would bring passion and power"" to the presidency ""would depend on his making a commitment of heart as well as mind that until now he has never been required to make"".

Pub Date: Jan. 13th, 1959
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace