A lively, concise and cutting-edge biography of one of the towering figures of 20th-century history. Of all the US presidents of the post-Second World War period, John F. Kennedy is the most clearly idolized. There is a well-documented gulf between the public’s largely positive appraisal of this glamorous historical figure and professional historians’ skeptical and mixed evaluation of a president who had only a foreshortened single term in which to make his mark.
What made JFK the man he was? How does he fit into the politics of his time? What were his policy goals, how did they shift, and how far did he manage to advance them? What was the Kennedy style of governance? Why was he killed and how can we explain the unprecedented outpouring of grief that his death elicited? How has his memory evolved since 1963?
Acclaimed biographer Peter J. Ling explores all these important questions, sifting and synthesizing the prodigious mass of Kennedy scholarship to provide readers with a fresh and strongly contextualized portrait of the man and his presidency.
John F. Kennedy will be essential reading for students of modern American history and anyone else seeking to understand the political and private life of America’s best known president.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. The Second Son 2. Kennedy and the Democrats 3. The 1960 Campaign 4. "Let Us Begin" - Triumph, Fiascos, and Crises 5. Brinkmanship: The Missile Crisis and Other Challenges 6. The Scale of Change: Birmingham, the Test Ban and Vietnam 7. The Mysteries of November 22 1963 8. Images and Actions 9. Remembrance 10. Bibliographical Essay
Peter J. Ling is Professor of American Studies in the Department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham. He has been visiting professor of African American Studies at Emory University and visiting professor in Political Science at Georgia State University in Atlanta. His previous works include a highly-regarded biography of Martin Luther King Jr. (2002) and a history of the Democratic Party (2004).
'Peter Ling does a wonderful job bringing together the varying degrees of John F. Kennedy’s life and times. His book considers JFK’s early background as well as the struggles of his years in office and culminates in an analysis of the assassination. This concise, yet in-depth, volume is a valuable resource for students and instructors. Ling crafts a wonderful narrative that will help anyone see the problems of the Kennedy era and how that period affected the United States and the world.' - Philip A. Goduti, Jr., Quinnipiac University, USA
‘This is as good an academic introduction to its subject as any student could ask for, and deserves a place in every university library… [it is] astonishing how much information he gives us, and his command of the sources is equally impressive. He [Peter J. Ling] is scholarly, lucid, fair-minded and up-to-date.’ - Professor Hugh Brogan, University of Essex