For his first book, Irish TV and Radio award winner, Ryan Tubridy, made the brave move of choosing to chronicle John Kennedy's 1963 visit to Ireland.
It took fortitude to approach this topic, given the plethora of Kennedy books on the market, the revisionist tone of many on looking back on the 'Kennedy myth',and the dubious nature of Irish American politics connections to the most unhappy types of paddywhackery.
However, his courage is well rewarded with a fascinating and beautifully presented tome that takes us back to different times and while certainly presenting Kennedy in a favourable light, gives an accurate representation of the effect the charismatic young American had on the emergent Irish nation and the genuine spell that he wove over the many who saw him during those four hectic days
Whatever one's political views on 'Camelot' with the hindisight of fifty years, there is no gainsaying Tubridy's accurate reflection that, in landing in the grey and isolated Ireland of the 1960s, he brought colour to monochrome, confidence to the deflated, and hope to the depressed.
The many excellently chosen pictures show not only the Ireland of the time, but also the contrast between the tired grey faces of the civil war survivors who made up the most of the country's political elite and the energetic young President who connected physically and emotionally with the hundreds of thousand who came to see him.
Tubridy is strong on the effects of Kennedy's visit on Ireland, as a nation, but also writes interestingly on the country's effect on JFK. It's easy to forget that, prior to 1960, a strong Irish connection was not seen as a vote getter in national US politics: Kennedy's own father, Ambassador Joe Kennedy did anything but encourage the link, after the elitism he found in Boston's Brahmins, and, as the author points out: John, Robert, Edward, Eunice, and Jean were hardly Paddy, Siobhan and Mickey in terms of a nod to the old country. JFK himself seems to have gone through the motions of an Irish link for most of his career, though he had made the journey to his ancestral village just after the war. However, those closest to him on this trip all suggest that he was genuinely moved by his welcome and, as the children of many emigrants do, found himself surprised by how at home he felt amongst the Irish.
A strength of this book is to be found in the many asides and personal comments Tubridy has been able to glean from those who were there, making the tale more detailed and authentic than any previous accounts.
It's easy to look back and demean how people felt, the innocence of the times, the pliability of the media, Tubridy achieves the much more difficult task of telling it how it was at the time, and he performs with some elan.
If you are interested in the early 60s, Ireland or America, this book will provide a great read and a treasure trove of unknown detail about a crucial four days in a nation's history and the impact of a great political hero.
Truly Tubridy has shown us the way we were.