Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: history-of-the-us-20th-century
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-03-21 01:45
The Kennedy Brothers: The Rise and Fall of Jack and Bobby - Richard D. Mahoney,David Talbot

"THE KENNEDY BROTHERS: The Rise and Fall of Jack and Bobby" offers the reader various views and perspectives on the evolution of the relationship between John F. Kennedy and his younger brother Robert between 1951 and 1963. At the same time, it also provides, in a large sense, a living history of the Kennedy Administration; the challenges, setbacks and triumphs it experienced; and the roles Robert Kennedy played in that history as Attorney General (e.g. his relentless fight against organized crime and his moral support for the cause of civil rights) and enforcer and protector of his brother, the President. 

Then we also experience the inner struggles and agonies Robert Kennedy endured after his brother was assassinated in Dallas in November 1963. After years of supporting JFK through his various political campaigns and in the White House, he was faced with having to find his own voice and place. In the process, Robert Kennedy's humaneness and compassion for the poor and disenfranchised - coupled with his fearlessness and the spirit of his character - came to define him in the eyes of millions of Americans as he went on to win election to the U.S. Senate from New York in 1964 and embarked on the path that led him to his last crusade, his run for the Presidency in 1968. 

In the words of the author: "... the Kennedys, with all their romance and irony, finally unite in an aesthetic comparable to the Greeks that they read about and quoted: they were daring and they were doomed, and they knew it and accepted it. They would die and make their deaths into creative acts of history. They would be heroes. And they would give their country an imperishable poignancy in its heart."

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-02-04 02:21
Conversations with Kennedy - Ben Bradlee

As Time pushes us further and further away from the days of John F. Kennedy's presidency, it is hard for those with a living memory of his Presidency (and harder still for those of us who were not alive when JFK was in the White House) to have a full perspective of what John F. Kennedy was in life. That is why this book, "CONVERSATIONS WITH KENNEDY", by Ben Bradlee, a journalist who knew Kennedy on a personal level between 1958 and 1963, is so important. 

In the space of 244 pages, the reader is given access not only to the 1960 presidential campaign (from the Kennedy camp) and some of the White House parties and dinners to which the Bradleys were invited, but also the outings Bradley enjoyed with President Kennedy at Hyannisport and Newport (where Jackie Kennedy's stepfather, Hugh Auchincloss, had a large estate). The book also has 2 sets of photos, which serve to further illustrate the nature of the relationship Bradley, then the Washington bureau chief for Newsweek magazine, had with Kennedy. Generally, it was an easy, relaxed relationship. But sometimes Bradley would be "frozen out" by President Kennedy for short spans of time if Newsweek printed stories that he didn't like. This was no vindictiveness on Kennedy's part, because he liked journalists (having once been one briefly himself in 1945, when he - as a special correspondent for Hearst Newspapers - covered the San Francisco Conference, which led to the establishment of the United Nations) and was known to read from 6 different newspapers daily. President Kennedy was very knowledgeable about the workings of the press, had a wide-ranging intellectual curiosity, and loved to keep abreast of the latest developments among the leading media establishments. 

"CONVERSATIONS WITH KENNEDY" also shows a President who 'had few illusions about human nature but nursed dreams all the same.' There is one excerpt from September 12, 1963, that I found especially revealing, as well as very moving ~

"Dinner was on the dicey side. Jackie's stepfather is not exactly a swinger, and the toasts were pretty much in his image. We were high on the hog again, with much wine, caviar, and champagne, but we all went to bed soon after dinner. Just before we retired Jackie drew me aside, her eyes glistening near tears, to announce that 'you two really are our best friends.' It was a forlorn remark, almost like a lost and lonely child desperately in need of any kind of friend. She repeated the message a couple of times to Tony [Bradlee's wife] during the weekend, citing particularly our letters to them about the baby's death. ... --- it had been a bad summer for our friends, with Patrick's death [Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, the President's and Jackie's son, who died from a lung ailment 2 days after his birth in August 1963] and the sudden, jolting suicide of Phil Graham [publisher and Chairman of the Board for The Washington Post, who was a close friend of the Kennedys and Bradley], whose light finally burned too bright and destroyed him --- but Jackie said it was a description of a instant of love we had seen between a father and a small baby, parting in Naples. They [i.e., the Kennedys] are the most remote and independent people we know most of the time, and so when their emotions do surface it is especially moving."

It is passages like the one cited above that reinforce the enormity of the loss to humanity (even after 54 years) of a brilliant, charismatic and witty U.S. President who inspired people to seek out "the better angels of their nature" and better themselves and the world community at large through public service. Thank you, Ben Bradlee, for this book.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-09-12 03:51
The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency - Kathryn Smith

"THE GATEKEEPER" is a book that brings back to life a singularly remarkable woman whose vital contributions to the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) - both professional and private - deserve to be more widely known. 

Marguerite "Missy" LeHand came from humble origins in Massachusetts to work for FDR in August 1920 as his private secretary. At that time, he was the vice presidential running mate of Ohio Governor James Cox, who was running for the Presidency against the Republican candidate, Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio. Though the Cox-Roosevelt ticket went down resoundingly to defeat in November 1920, "Missy" would go on to work faithfully for FDR for the next 20 years, helping him (along with those persons - e.g. Louis Howe, a highly skilled political strategist who had been a supporter of FDR from the time he won election to the NY State Senate in 1910, and FDR's wife Eleanor, who would later form FDR's inner circle in the White House) thru the personal crisis caused by the polio that left him unable to walk for the rest of his life, to the slow and steady upward path to a political resurrection that led to FDR being elected Governor of New York in 1928, and 4 years later, elected President of the United States. 

Though Missy LeHand's official position in the Roosevelt White House was personal secretary, she was much more than that. In many respects, she can be considered as the first woman presidential chief of staff. Indeed, Missy enjoyed FDR's complete trust and commanded his respect. She had a room in the White House near the President and played a vital role in the shaping of many of FDR's policies and initiatives. So much so that "if you wanted access to Franklin, you had to go through Missy." By virtue of their deeply close personal relationship (exactly how close is unclear to this day), "[a]s one of his most trusted advisors, Missy had a unique perspective on the president that no one else could claim, and she was deeply admired and respected by Eleanor and the Roosevelt children." 

Sadly, this unique working relationship between FDR and Missy LeHand was not to last. The reasons for that I leave for the reader of this review to discover by reading this fantastic, well-written and researched book.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-06-27 19:11
My Twelve Years with John F. Kennedy - Evelyn Lincoln

MY TWELVE YEARS WITH JOHN F. KENNEDY” is Evelyn Lincoln’s account of the time she served John F. Kennedy as his secretary. The book begins in 1952 when Mrs. Lincoln was working on the clerical staff of a Georgia Congressman. The U.S. was on the cusp of a major sea change, for after 20 years of Democratic presidential administrations in the White House, a Republican tide in November of that year would bring in the war hero Dwight Eisenhower as President. What’s more, on his coattails, many Republicans would win election to Congress. Mrs. Lincoln had read earlier in the year about a young Massachusetts 3-term Congressman (John F. Kennedy) who had decided to challenge a powerful Senator (Henry Cabot Lodge) for his seat. Kennedy, a Catholic, was not expected to win. But Mrs. Lincoln was impressed with him and sensed he had potential. She told her husband that she believed that Kennedy could someday be President. Indeed, she asserted that he would be elected President in 1960! And for that reason, she wanted to go and work for him. That took some doing, for Kennedy, at the time, was often away in Massachusetts campaigning. What’s more: he already had a secretary. So, in addition to her normal job on Capitol Hill, Mrs. Lincoln got a job as a volunteer in Congressman Kennedy’s office.

Kennedy would defy the odds and win election to the Senate in 1952. Within a year, his regular secretary had left and Mrs. Lincoln, by dint of hard work and having learned to cope with the demands Kennedy would place on his staff (Kennedy challenged his staff much as he challenged himself), had earned the position as his secretary. The book then takes the reader into the life and times of John F. Kennedy as Evelyn Lincoln experienced them between 1953 and his assassination in November 1963. She writes in a way that will make the reader feel that he/she is not only a witness to history, but also to the life of a singularly remarkable politician and human being. I loved this book and will cherish it always.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-06-16 19:25
JFK & LBJ: 1960-1963
Kennedy & Johnson - Evelyn Lincoln

For anyone with a keen interest in either John F. Kennedy or the Kennedy White House years, this book is a MUST READ.  


Originally published in 1968, “KENNEDY AND JOHNSON” provides the reader with a unique inside view into the personalities of both John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson from the latter stages of the 1960 Democratic primary season (when Johnson, then Senate Majority Leader, decided to enter the race and use his considerable stock as one of the most powerful politicians on Capitol Hill to upset the momentum Kennedy had built up during the primaries and claim the presidential nomination for himself), thru the hurly-burly of the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, onward to the final weeks of the 1960 campaign against Nixon, and into the Kennedy White House.  


Evelyn Lincoln, the author, served as John F. Kennedy’s secretary from the time he entered the Senate in January 1953 until his assassination in Dallas 10 years later.   Much of her observations of the Kennedy-Johnson relationship as it developed between 1960 and 1963 provide most of the book’s content.   Indeed, Mrs. Lincoln kept a daily diary from 1955 and used it as a primary source for “Kennedy and Johnson.” There are lots of dialogue and snatches of conversations and comments from various politicians and presidential aides that give this book a compelling immediacy.     Sometimes I felt in reading “Kennedy and Johnson” that I was watching history unfold before me.  


As a way of illustrating this sense of immediacy I got from reading this book, I want to cite Mrs. Lincoln’s description of a very revealing conversation that she had with President Kennedy in the White House sometime in 1963:


One day Senator Dirksen [Everett Dirksen, the then Senate Minority Leader] called on Mr. Kennedy.   After he left, Mr. Kennedy came out to my desk and said, “Do you know what the Senator told me today? Dirksen told me, ‘Let’s face it, Eisenhower did not know much about what was going on during his Administration. He would call a group in --- let the others do most of the talking --- he used to sit and doodle for about two hours and then he would say, “Okay, boys, who is going to carry the ball?” The Senator said that it was frightening --- Eisenhower’s lack of knowledge of what was taking place and the things he didn’t know about the United States Government.   Nixon used to call on Dirksen and ask him to speak to Eisenhower, particularly about firing Sherman Adams [Eisenhower’s press secretary]. But the Senator said that he told Nixon he should talk to Eisenhower, he was the Vice President, but Nixon was scared of Eisenhower.”


“Well,” I said to Mr. Kennedy, “you and Mr. Johnson are certainly different than those two men. You certainly know what you are doing and Mr. Johnson is not afraid of you.”  


“No,” said Mr. Kennedy, “the only thing Mr. Johnson is afraid of is that I will not put him on the ticket in 1964.”


And the following comes from a conversation Mrs. Lincoln had with President Kennedy in the White House on November 19, 1963 ---


“ As Mr. Kennedy sat in the rocker in my office, his head resting on its back he placed his left leg across his right knee. He rocked slightly as he talked. In a slow pensive voice he said to me, 'You know if I am re-elected in sixty-four, I am going to spend more and more time toward making government service an honorable career. I would like to tailor the executive and legislative branches of government so that they can keep up with the tremendous strides and progress being made in other fields.'  'I am going to advocate changing some of the outmoded rules and regulations in the Congress, such as the seniority rule. To do this I will need as a running mate in sixty-four a man who believes as I do.' Mrs. Lincoln went on to write  "I was fascinated by this conversation and wrote it down verbatim in my diary. Now I asked, 'Who is your choice as a running-mate?'  'He looked straight ahead, and without hesitating he replied, 'at this time I am thinking about Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina. But it will not be Lyndon.' “

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?