Book: JFK's Last Hundred Days: The Transformation of a Man and the Emergence of a Great President
Author: Thurston Clarke
Genre: Non-Fiction/Biography/Presidents/U.S. History
Summary: Fifty years after his assassination, President John F. Kennedy's legend endures. Noted author and historian Thurston Clarke reexamines the last months of the president's life to show a man in the midst of great change, both in his family and in the key issues of his day: the cold war, civil rights, and Vietnam, finally on the cusp of making good on his extraordinary promise. JFK's Last Hundred Days presents a gripping account that weaves together Kennedy's public and private lives, explains why the grief following his assassination has endured so long, and solves the most tantalizing Kennedy mystery of them all - not who killed him but who he was when he was killed and where he would have led us. - Penguin Books, 2014.
It has a long time since I read to non-fiction, so getting into the swing of it took a bit of readjusting. Having already read one or two books on Kennedy, I was prepared to go in for a retelling of everything I knew about him already. To my delighted surprise, I was proven wrong and learned many new things in the course of reading this book.
The book is dedicated entirely to JFK's last hundred days in office. Clarke explains Kennedy's days down to the last detail - meetings, personal conversations, etc. He even goes into Kennedy's mind, trying to explain Kennedy's thought process and feelings based on his actions, recordings, and the people who surrounded him.
While the focus is on JFK's last days in office, Clarke goes go back to earlier moment in the president's life and presidency when necessary, only giving as much detail as is needed when explaining the rationale behind Kennedy's actions or words.
I think this book is best suited to someone who wants a deeper dive into Kennedy's presidency rather than a general biography. It's very, very well-researched and well documented when it comes to his sources.
The only things I found odd were his failure to include Marilyn Monroe and his assuming Kennedy's thoughts and motives after spending the prelude explaining how Kennedy was an enigma to everyone. The exclusion of Marilyn Monroe I could ultimately understand because the book is focused on what happened during his presidency politically, with his only social exploits detailed when they included his family. But, I don't know, it still seemed odd to me.
I wouldn't say Clarke writes with an obvious bias either. The only bias I could see is that Clarke doesn't look too kindly on Lyndon Johnson. The writing, to me, seemed neutral overall - it didn't overly praise or criticize Kennedy.
It's a good book overall, and I enjoyed it. I think it would make a good addition to any collection about Kennedy.
I give JFK's Last Hundred Days an A.
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