JFK by Terry Golway


50 Days
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A thorough, well-designed overview of—yes, 50 days in the truncated presidency of John Kennedy, which began 50 years ago.

Biographer Golway and reference writer Krantz interpret those incidents in short, factually correct texts marked by plenty of period detail. For instance, as they observe, the very first presidential news-conference broadcast on live television was one of Kennedy’s, this one on the occasion of yet another moment in the Cold War threatened to turn hot—and which preempted that week’s episode of Popeye the Sailor Man. Each incident is accompanied by a high-resolution video from the vaults of NBC, along with a still photograph that can be enlarged at a touch. The text is written in the present tense, lending immediacy to events, as with this from the Bay of Pigs fiasco: “The United States’ role in the invasion is not yet clear. However, Castro has insisted for months that the U.S. has been arming and training rebels to invade his Communist-leaning country.” A bonus is a set of outtakes from the last extended interview JFK gave, this one to Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, whose show was a forerunner of NBC Nightly News—a bit of synchronicity that explains current political commentator David Gregory’s presence at several points in the proceedings.

Well-conceived and easily navigated; not quite comprehensive, but a great place to start.

Publisher: Running Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2011


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