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A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy
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A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  156 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
No issue is more hotly debated than how, or even if, a politician's private life affects his public competence. In A Question of Character John F. Kennedy's two lives—public and private—are examined to answer this timely question. Respected historian and biographer Thomas C. Reeves reveals discrepancies between JFK's public persona, which has reached mythic proportions, ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published December 10th 1997 by Three Rivers Press (first published January 1st 1991)
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Erik Graff
Aug 13, 2015 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: JFK fans, ethicists
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
Reeves, previously author of a study of Joseph McCarthy, begins this biography by noting how he had been a strong supporter of JFK during his rise to power. This changed, however, as the years passed and ever increasing amounts of information came out about the Kennedy's presidency and personal life. This study therefore is one of contrasting the public image against the private reality of the man.

Like Reeves, but much more naively (I was in elementary school in '63 and was apeing my dad), I had
Nov 12, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it
This book is an interesting review of the presidency and the man of Kennedy, a Catholic, liberal on economic/social issues, conservative on education, civil liberties, anti-communism. Congressman Kennedy favored fiscal conservatism and wary of big government. It discussed that he was not a liberal at all and lacked a firm ideological leaning. An "authentic moderate without excessive party loyalties."

Talked about his numerous affairs. Made me think of Clinton. He was skirting a chance of being ca
Feb 08, 2013 Robert rated it it was amazing
For me, there’s nothing like a good presidential biography; they're a great way to learn Your American History through the prism of the office of the most powerful elected official in the country. This is the first Prez-bio I’ve read that *isn’t* by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Anyway, A Question of Character is a long, fascinating, quite critical account of Jack Kennedy’s life and ascension into our nation’s highest office, originally published in 1991. Apparently back then, nearly 30 years after the ...more
Jul 03, 2009 Douglas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Readers should be somewhat skeptical of this book. Reeves includes a great deal of mere hear-say, anecdotes, and speculation which if not read carefully may come off as absolutely true and factual. We all know by now that President Kennedy had faults and was a reckless young man. Yet how was it humanly possible for Kennedy to sleep with all of those women and "do" all of those drugs while in the White House, especially when his death from Addison's disease was five years away?
Shannon McDermott
An excellent biography of JFK that not only explores one president's life, but also a historical era and questions of leadership and character. The author handles the lurid side of Kennedy's life perfectly, neither ignoring it nor indulging a prurient interest; he found the historical significance of Kennedy's escapades and went no further. This biography is a substantive historical account and analysis, with the clarity that comes after time has allowed emotions to cool, perspective to form, ...more
Marty Acks
This book paints JFK as a philandering, completely amoral individual who was under a Svengooly-like influence of his father. The author is highly focused on debunking the "Camelot" school of Kennedy's greatness.

I am no Kennedy scholar but the conclusions that even when he did good it was only for political gain got to be rather overwrought and unbelievable at times.

The book was a fascinating read in a gossipy kind of way.
Avis Black
Mar 12, 2008 Avis Black rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies, 4-stars
Despite what people may say about this book, it is not all negative, though it's certainly not a hagiography. Reeves tries to present a more balanced view of Kennedy, and he has been sharply criticized for it. Nonetheless, his unromantic viewpoint has genuine validity to it. This book is for those who have grown-up attitudes about politicians, and are not given to either worshipping or demonizing them, but who realize that they're just people.
John Hales
The author, Mr. Thomas C Reeves, seems to be afflicted with an "Holier than Thou" attitude. The resulting bias was obvious and made the reading of otherwise interesting historical events difficult to read. While recognizing President Kennedy's notable achievements at home and abroad, Mr. Reeves would finish with a jab in the back apparently influenced by his definition of morality.
Jacque Applegate
Jul 25, 2013 Jacque Applegate rated it really liked it
Interesting read. Was recommended by my father in law. I enjoyed seeing the two sides of Kennedy. I think my favorite was of the swift boat incident. It made me truly understand why there is a group about the former swift boat soldiers that speak out so strongly during election. Worth the read.
Jun 28, 2008 Natalie rated it it was amazing
An eye opening review of the Kennedy family history and the the psychological development of JFK. I was particulary disturbed by the chapter on Marily Monroe. Thomas C Reeves provides a thorough investigation of JFK. If you enjoy Biographical reads, this one is great!
Feb 20, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
This book covers not so much the events of this popular politician and American but rather the psycho-social, economic, cultural and ethnic fabric of the man. Because of this web-like comprehensiveness, I consider this to be one of the best books I have ever read.
Jun 13, 2007 Bethany rated it it was amazing
So very, very good. I took a class in undergrad on the JFK assassination and this was required. Summary: JFK was an asshole.
Jan 03, 2008 Kristy rated it liked it
This book was okay... i enjoyed the juicy insight into Ambassador Joe and the Kennedy personal lives, but the overall pacing was rather clunky.
Oct 01, 2012 Staci rated it really liked it
This book presented a different side of Kennedy than was is typically portrayed. It was an interesting and informative read.
Lucy Troke
May 26, 2013 Lucy Troke rated it it was amazing
the best most trustworthy book you'll ever find on jfk. he presents jfk not as some rich spoilt brat and not as some legend but as a human being. very highly recommended.
Mar 12, 2016 Elaine rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
The John F. Kennedy who emerges from these pages was not a man of good moral character. He was reared not to be good but to win. A book of incredible hubris. You have to read it to believe it.
Gene Coatney
Gene Coatney rated it really liked it
Dec 13, 2011
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Jan 23, 2009
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