Thursday, November 14, 2013


For those of us of a certain age, the time and place we were when we heard that President John Kennedy was assassinated is forever present in our minds.  It’s difficult to believe that 50 years have passed since November 22, 1963. With this anniversary there are many current television programs and newspaper articles about the late president and how our lives as Americans would be different had he lived to complete his time in office. 

The Monrovia Public Library has many books on John Kennedy.  This anniversary is a good time to visit them, either to read for the first time or to read again.  

One of John Kennedy’s best friends was Ben Bradlee, editor of the Washington Post, to whom Kennedy gave permission to take notes during their get-togethers. Bradlee’s Conversations with Kennedy captures the man, not the myth.  Page-turning and informal, the conversations in the book reveal Kennedy’s mighty intellect and his sense of humor.

Two of the best known biographers of presidents are William Manchester and Robert Dallek.  Manchester’s One Brief Shining Moment: Remembering Kennedy is not a deep profile of the President, but is more like an appreciation and a snapshot of the Camelot myth.  It includes many pictures.  Dallek was given access to all the Kennedy papers for An Unfinished Life:  1917-1963. Although the author refers to Kennedy’s personal issues, the book is primarily a biography of Kennedy’s political skills and history.

A recent biography, Jack Kennedy:  Elusive Hero is by cable commentator Chris Matthews.  Matthews uses his insider knowledge of government and storytelling skills to write a biography that is both an overview of Kennedy’s life and a look at his personal story.  It is a quick read.

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