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A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House
A Thousand Days John F Kennedy in the White House Author:Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Rarely does an historian have the opportunity simultaneously to record and to influence history at the very source of power. Mr. Schlesinger's position as Special Assistant to President Kennedy, with an office in the White House, brought him into close, informal contact with the men who were running the country and their counterparts abroad, wi... more »th the great events and policy decisions of this brief but dramatic administration. Above all it enable him to watch Kennedy at work; to know him as a personal friend, as a brilliant President, as a man who maintained, throughout all the crises and pressures of his lonely office, the zest and gaiety that lent magic to the Kennedy years.
The book opens with an insider's account of the events that led up to the nomination, the contest between the Kennedy and Johnson forces, and the minute-by-minute story of the selection of the Vice-President in the tense atmosphere of the convention in Los Angeles. Then comes the history of the campaign, preparations in anticipation of victory, the selection of the Cabinet, the inauguration itself and the hour of euphoria as the new day dawned and anything seemed possible. Optimism abroad; in South America (Mr. Schlesinger's first assignment) new hope for the Alliance for Progress. Then: the Bay of Pigs.
Kennedy's ordeal by fire in the Cuban disaster is the first of those critical moments in history that--described here for the first time--make the framework of Mr. Schlesinger's book. There followed the crisis over Laos, the meeting with de Gaulle in Paris and the confrontation with Khrushchev over Berlin (which at the time seemed to bring us to the brink of atomic war), the reorganization of the State Department and CIA, the struggle to repair our position in our own hemisphere, and then "the great turning point"--the Cuban missile crisis, when courage and hard-earned experience were put to the ultimate test.
At home we see the battle for domestic growth, the steel crisis, the beginnings of the Negro revolution. We learn how Kennedy ran his job: his relations with his staff, with his brother the Attorney General, with Lyndon Johnson, with Congress, with the press, with the country at large, including the younger elements whose energies he did so much to release. We see him away from his desk; we get new insight into the special role of Jacqueline Kennedy in this most effective of partnerships. Here is the story of the Kennedys and the arts: the encouragement of a sense of values that gave fresh color and meaning both to official Washington and to everyday life throughout the nation. Finally there is the tragedy of Dallas, the grief, and the legacy of John F. Kennedy to the nation.
A Thousand Days is a personal memoir, but one that could have been written only by a trained historian. Fast-paced and immensely readable, leavened by wit and its subject's own wry humor, it is the best evaluation of the Kennedy Administration that we are likely to have in our time.« less