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John F. Kennedy Books

Richard Avedon, The Kennedys: Portrait of a Family (2007)

Avedon, one of America's most distinguished photographers, presents over seventy-five Kennedy family photos taken in late 1960, just three weeks before Jack's inauguration. The book also includes a foreword and introductory essay that provide some historical context. A large part of the Kennedy appeal was the Kennedy image—this book gives insight into the visual allure of America's iconic family.

Robert Dallek, An Unfinished Life (2003)

In this biography of John F. Kennedy, Robert Dallek provides a rich account of Jack's life, not only discussing the future president's political decisions but also examining his early years. Dallek makes terrific use of primary source material (including excerpts from JFK's diaries) in this well-researched book.

James W. Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (2008)

Conspiracy theories abound, but this book by James Douglass uses a critical lens to investigate John F. Kennedy's assassination. Douglass discusses CIA involvement, Lee Harvey Oswald's role (or lack thereof) in the murder, Lyndon B. Johnson, and a possible government cover-up. The book also includes commentary on JFK's presidency and his domestic and foreign policy decisions. If you like footnotes, you'll like this book.

John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage (1956)

Jack Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize-winning book investigates the "political courage" of eight United States senators who risked rejection and re-election to stand up for issues about which they felt passionate. For insight into Kennedy's political philosophy, check this one out.

Robert F. Kennedy, Thirteen Days (1968)

Bobby's memoir (published after his assassination) documents the decisions that shaped the Cuban Missile Crisis and gives a behind-the-scenes account of the meetings and conversations that took place in October 1962.

Ted Sorensen, Counselor (2008)

In his autobiography, Sorensen chronicles his relationship with John F. Kennedy and his role as Jack's speechwriter in the Senate and the White House. As one of Jack's closest advisers, Sorensen was privy to the inner workings of presidential politics, and offers insight into the dynamics of the Kennedy administration. Sorensen pays particular attention to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the handling of Jack's negotiations with Khrushchev.

David Talbot, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, (2008)

Unlike other authors who write about John F. Kennedy, Talbot chooses to focus primarily on the president's relationship with his Attorney General (and younger brother), Bobby. The two brothers had an intensely close bond; having served as Jack's campaign manager for years, Bobby was adept at spur-of-the-moment decisions and political maneuvering. Together, Jack and Bobby formed one of the most tightly-knitted administrations—this book examines how that relationship impacted Jack's presidency.

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