A Review of Robert Dallek’s bio of JFK

Photo portrait of John F. Kennedy, President o...
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“Kennedy’s presidency is better understood as a patchwork of stumbles and significant achievements.”

So concludes Robert Dallek‘s  in his biograhpy of John F Kennedy entitled An Unfinished Life.

An Unfinished Life is a well written and well researched biography of our 35th President whose tragic death is still debated and discussed today.

I found this biography of Kennedy to be honest, yet respectful in tone and scope. Dallek does not reassess JFK’s life in an tabloid fashion nor does he overlook Kennedy’s medical issues as well as his compulsive womanizing. He attempts to present JFK’s life and term in office in forthright terms.

Some may find Dallek’s unwillingness to dig in to the more “juicer” aspects of Kennedy’s life as lacking. But I find his willingness to assess Kennedy as President, a very fruitful effort.

This book brings to light the challenging themes of Vietnam, Cuba, nuclear proliferation, and civil rights and how Kennedy sought to deal with each one as he navigated a middle way, if possible, in these issues.

A ‘you are there’ attitude pervades this book with these previously named issues but it comes to a very effective climax, in my opinion, with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

A very helpful work and assessment of Kennedy, his character and his presidency.


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