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JFK's Last Hundred Days: An Intimate Portrait of a Great President [Hardcover]

Thurston Clarke
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

16 July 2013

Thurston Clarke's gripping account of the last months of the life of President John F. Kennedy weaves together his public and private life and addresses the most tantalizing mystery of all - not who killed him but who he was when he was killed, and where he would have led his country and the world.

This re-examination of a critical period looks at all the areas of the president's fascinating life: the progress he made towards ending the Cold War, passing the Civil Rights Act and withdrawing US troops from Vietnam, as well as his grief at the death of his infant son Patrick, his ongoing battle with ill health and his renewed determination to be a good husband and father.

The resulting portrait reveals the essence of this charismatic man, his personal transformation and the emergence of a great president. It also explains the widespread and enduring grief following his assassination, mourning the loss of his remarkable promise, which had become increasingly evident during his last hundred days.

Thurston Clarke has written eleven widely acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction on travel and modern history including Ask Not: The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That Changed America. His articles have appeared in Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The Washington Post and many other publications.

'His enthusiasm is infectious . . . he entertains and illuminates, writing gracefully, and with a fine sense of irony . . . He's funny and he's fair and he swims well against powerful cultural cross-currents' New York Times Book Review


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (16 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846143322
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846143328
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 220,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Earnestly exuberant . . . Clarke is an intrepid researcher (New Yorker)

Entertaining, informative, fascinating . . . reminds us exactly how much did happen in that time span and of how many tantalising hints he left behind about his plans for the future (Financial Times)

A good storyteller, his account offers an enjoyable snapshot of the day-to-day workings of the presidency (Economist)

About the Author

Thurston Clarke has written eleven widely acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction on travel and modern history including Ask Not: The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That Changed America. His articles have appeared in Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The Washington Post and many other publications.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Light That Lit the World 5 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Plutarch records in his Life of Caesar that when Caesar died the sun's rays were obscured. To the Romans, Caesar was the light of the world. To the free world and beyond, in 1963, John F Kennedy was the light of the world.
Kennedy had that great gift of many statesmen of being able to affect people's well being by their words irrespective of the effects of their actions. Thus, it was that he was able to move the besieged people of Berlin. Thus, it was, he was able raise awareness in the United States of the plight of black Americans. And, thus it was, that when he died people all over the world cried.

Mr Clarke infers that JFK was a great President. That is a judgement he makes, but in the final analysis it is the judgement of history. In so far as he saved the world from an Armageddon worse than either of the two world wars of the twentieth century there is evidence for that argument, and insofar as he was able to affect the people of his country and the world like Franklin Roosevelt, who was undoubtedly a great President, there is some further evidence.

In history, England is regarded as the Mother Country of the United States. Once we were known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and America. Here in England we have Lincoln's statue in Parliament Square outside our new Supreme Court, we have Roosevelt in Grosvenor Square, and we have a bust of JFK near Regents Park. But, we also have a memorial and a site dedicated to him on that hallowed constitutional ground at Runnymede where the Magna Carta was signed. The latter in my view symbolises that fundamental link that has always existed between England and America which is founded on the rule of law and our common legal and constitutional heritage.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 1 Oct 2013
By CJC
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent book - really easy to read and very interesting! Shows all aspects of JFK (presidential and private) throughout his last 100 days in office. Although I have read a lot of books on the Kennedy family, especially JFK, I would recommend this as a very good read. I have still learnt many new facts from it!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What if ? 30 July 2013
By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
It is always useful to carefully take note of a book's title, and its subtitle,if any. Thurston Clarke's book is a very good example. It is subtitled: 'An Intimate Portrait of a Great President'. hence, Clarke does not cover President Kennedy's upbringing or his political life before he was elected. His sexual proclivities are mentioned but not in the detail that other authors have. One will need therefore to supplement this account with any of the other numerous books on Kennedy in order to get a full picture of his life-a very priviledged yet tragic life.
His brother was killed in the war, his sister died in a plane accident, Rosemary was an invalid for life after a botched lobotomy and his son Patrick died after a few weeks. His father was a philanderer and a very arrogant man who believed in winning by any means. Many have reported JFK's genuine concern for others-for example, he often moved people sideways rather than sack them. Unfortunately, he did not treat his wife in the same way. We await the release of her memoirs currently under lock and key. A friend of Jackie's is said to have claimed they will be explosive.

This book is about the last hundred days of Kennedy's presidency, as opposed to Arthur Schlesinger's classic 'A Thousand Days'. Clarke structures his book by looking at the months and days from 31 December 1962 to 22 November 1963. His style is elegant and makes for easy reading.

Kennedy was a very introverted man. Jackie said he was 'a simple man, yet so complex that he would frustrate anyone trying to understand him'. He even told his French teacher not to tell anyone he was learning the language because he wanted to 'surprise the world'.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly Icarus 11 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book gives a v fair flavour of Kennedy,I hadn't realised how vain he was,according to the author anyway.The need to be suntanned,his preoccupation with his looks and his need to be seen as a great president.Not surprising i suppose for someone with v great power.And the fact that civil rights obligation came late to Kennedy.He had no history of wanting to alter things till late on.Johnston had more claim to that aspect of government policy.And Johnston it was who used the kennedy name to enact laws in its favour.The speculation about what might have been is inevitable and unanswerable.No matter what history says,it can never be known.Perhaps like Icarus flying close to the sun and crashing,kennedy would have become tarnished if his private life had become public.And in a conservative country like the U.S.,no matter his political achievements ,It would have finished him.Certainly charismatic and flawed.But a way with him that captured so v many.A good well researched and lively informative as far as it goes read,that gives insight into a secretive and pragmatic man.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bought as a present 25 Jan 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I purchased this after seeing a review in the Daily Mail for my brother who was in America in 1965/6, he was very pleased and says it is most informative and a very good read, and would recommend it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars superb account of Kennedy's life and presidency focusing on his last...
I thoroughly enjoyed this excellent account of JFK's last one hundred days. Covering his personal life, and the greater closeness he and his wife Jackie were achieving, his... Read more
Published 5 months ago by markr
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for followers of Kennedy
So much has been written about that terrible day in November, that this is a welcome addition that deals with the period leading up to Dallas. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mr. P. G. Aylott
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb biography of JFK
An excellent account of JFK's last hundred days. By far the best biography of the President. It examines his prospects for the future and his private life. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Sam T.
5.0 out of 5 stars JFK LAST HUNDRED DAYS
VERY GOOD BOOK, GOT FOR MY HUSBAND WHO LOVED IT. MANY THANKS FOR MAKING THE PURCHASE SO EASY TO SORT.
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars JFK's Last Hundred Days
I purchased this book for my husband because I knew he was a big 'fan' of JFK. Unfortunately he did not like the book.
Published 8 months ago by foxy lady
4.0 out of 5 stars JFK
I enjoyed this book, but found it quite heavy going in parts.
It's not just a book about JFK and his family, there's a lot of
Political stuff in here too.
Published 9 months ago by Susan
5.0 out of 5 stars Dynastic pain - reader's pleasure
The events of 50 years ago qualify as history and yet they are recent enough to trigger memories. Thurston Clarke writes extremely well. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Roger
4.0 out of 5 stars "...an incalculable loss of the future..." Ted Sorensen
With the 50th anniversary coming up of John F Kennedy's assassination, a plethora of books will no doubt be appearing over the next few months, tackling his history from a variety... Read more
Published 11 months ago by FictionFan
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