My interest in reading this book was to try and get a true picture of a man who has become a legend. The veneration JFK receives seemed to be incongruous with the few things I knew about him/his presidency: the Bay of Pigs which in most accounts was a disaster, the space race which I admire but is it really cause for legend hood, and civil rights which my recollection put more squarely on Johnson's shoulders, and of course his mysterious assasination. So what did Kennedy do that made him such a hero to my parents and amny others?
The book as its title implies is set up to approach Kennedies life from 40 different angles each explored in its own chapter. The picture that emerges is of an extraordinarily charismatic man who at heart was not a very good man. Philanderer is too kind a word for him, a master of projecting a fake persona to the world, wealthy in the worst kind of ways - using his wealth to buy his reputation and occasionally elections. He was not a man of strong convictions and high ideals but one of enormous ambition who desperately wanted to go down in history as a great man.
So why is he such a legend? His assasination is an easy answer but it is really rooted in his ability, despite the contrast with his true personage, to inspire. His eloquence and wit, the fact that he challenged
the American people instead of coddling them while also making them feel proud and patriotic. Who doesn't know at least one of Kennedies quotes? One of the most interesting things to me is that while most of the important legislation for civil rights happened later, Kennedies rhetoric was an important brand in the fire. His ability to inspire was also credited with jumpstarting the feminist movement as well. It places an interesting focus on the importance of the ability to inspire in our politic leaders.
The book was an easy read and since much of the info was new to me I enjoyed it. It does at times seem to get repetitive. I have not previously read a biography of JFK so have no means of comparisom nut I'd say for a quick and dirt look at who he was this is a good book.