President Kennedy served less than three years in the White House. But in that time, his administration was involved in some of the most important events of the 20th century. Inheriting the Cold War, Indochina and Cuban policies from the Eisenhower administration, the new young President found himself embroiled in situations that would change the course of world history. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., the noted historian and author served as Kennedy’s special assistant and advisor at times on the most important decisions made by the Kennedy administration.
Revisiting his time with the late Kennedy, Schlesinger’s memoir serves as an invaluable part of American history and is one of the best sources of information regarding the day-to-day functions behind the scenes in the White House. The major events that threatened world peace and tested the new leader are re-examined and Schlesinger meticulously analyzes the events to show the reader how and why Kennedy reached his decisions and then implemented them as official policy. Critics have lambasted Schlesinger for not discussing the negative aspects of the Kennedys’ lives and in particular the scandals that nearly ruined Kennedy’s political career and reputation. Infidelity, murder, association with organized crime and blackmail hung as dark clouds over the Kennedy administration and threatened to derail hopes for re-election in 1964. When Schlesinger wrote the book, his primary focus was on domestic and foreign policy decisions and not the gossip that spread throughout Washington. And for those who do want to read about the dark side of the dark side of the Kennedy administration, Seymour Hersh already has that covered in his bestselling ‘The Dark Side of Camelot’ .
On November 22, 1963, Kennedy’s life came to a deadly conclusion. And with his death came the loss of feelings of hope, promise and optimism. He signaled a change in American politics, no longer dictated by weapons but by diplomacy, intelligence and empathy. His independence, intelligence and oratory skills have seldom been matched and Schlesinger’s account is a fitting tribute to the slain leader.