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A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  4,495 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
As special assistant to the president, Arthur Schlesinger witnessed firsthand the politics and personalities that influenced the now legendary Kennedy administration. Schlesinger’s close relationship with JFK, as a politician and as a friend, has resulted in this authoritative yet intimate account in which the president “walks through the pages, from first to last, alert, ...more
ebook, 1072 pages
Published June 3rd 2002 by First Mariner Books (first published 1965)
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Kathy Kattenburg I don't know, but I didn't notice when I set this as Currently Reading that this was an abridged version. I read the complete book, which is 858…moreI don't know, but I didn't notice when I set this as Currently Reading that this was an abridged version. I read the complete book, which is 858 pages. (less)
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Mar 14, 2009 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am still actually reading this book. I am about halfway through. It is about 1000 pages. So I want to record what I can remember now, because by the time I finish I'll probably have forgotten it all.

Well, Schlesinger is clearly brilliant. His prose is superb. This book is so valuable because it's an insider's account, but he has obviously done a lot of additional research to supplement his own experiences and memories. He has a gift for politics--for analyzing the situation trenchantly, inclu
Gordon Francisco
It all began, as it ended, in the cold. And we were left without our hero and on our sheep without their shepard...Why did you leave us, why did you die?
Aaron Million
Monumental account of John F. Kennedy's presidency, written by someone who had inside access to the Kennedy White House. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. was already a famous historian by 1960, having won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1945 work The Age of Jackson. He had worked on Adlai Stevenson's losing presidential campaigns in the 1950s, and eventually became acquainted with the Kennedys. His primary role in the Kennedy White House was as a Special Assistant to the President, and occasional speechwriter. ...more
Aug 16, 2007 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historians, Presidential Interests
The "insider" story is always an interesting one. From my few experiences reading books written by presidential aides, the one thing I've noticed is the tendency for the author to write about themselves instead of the subject readers are more interested in (case in point Sidney Blumenthal's "The Clinton Wars.") Schlesinger does not fall into this prose. His subject is clear and thorough, beginning with the nominating process selecting Kennedy as the presidential candidate in Los Angeles, 1960. T ...more
Aug 25, 2010 Vheissu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Vheissu by: find books by title / author / isbn
Robert Caro offers an important critique of Schlesinger's account in Passage To Power. Caro is both more detached and careful in his comments about RFK, Schlesinger, Sorensen, and the other Kennedy men than the fawning Schlesinger. They treated LBJ viciously, possibly for good reasons, and with the exception of RFK, the president reciprocated with deference, courtesy, and respect. Schlesinger later changed his opinion of LBJ, but little of his growing respect is displayed here.
Garry Wilmore
Jul 28, 2009 Garry Wilmore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read in the fall of 1969, when I was a high-school sophomore in Mississippi.
Jul 25, 2010 Jww rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, biography
Possibly the best book about Kennedy's White House years. Also see "Kennedy" by Ted Sorensen.
This book is one of the most thorough firsthand accounts of the Kennedy administration and takes an almost exhaustive look at many of the things that occurred during the administration. While some of the conclusions have been tempered with history and new evidence coming to light (particularly on the Bay of Pigs and the Civil Rights record) this is still considered the definitive book on the Kennedy years in the white house and should deserve that distinction. Schlesinger who served as a special ...more
Michael Nelson
Jun 24, 2014 Michael Nelson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I enjoyed the insider's view of the Kennedy presidency presented in this book. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. has an amazing command of English and his writing style is beautiful. I did not seek this book out for a balanced view of Kennedy, and it came across to me as understandably biased (Mr. Schlesinger was a Kennedy advisor). I did come away with a better understanding of the issues faced and covered by the Kennedy administration and feel like I learned more about what JFK was like as a leader. Rega ...more
Brian Willis
Aug 17, 2014 Brian Willis rated it it was amazing
Appointed by President Kennedy himself to advise on policy and to observe and document for history, this Pulitzer Prize winning book is the result of JFK's faith in Schlesinger. A thousand days documented in a thousand pages, Schlesinger was a fly-on-the-wall for the entirety of the Administration and he pours his unique insight into every page. One feels that they grapple the issues as JFK does, and the author covers every single aspect of those thousand days. Most of that time is devoted to fo ...more
Apr 20, 2012 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing book by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Now, given his close relationship to President Kennedy it is clear that there will be some bias. But Schlesinger deals with that right away by acknowledging that in the beginning of his book. Also, even though there is somewhat of a bias which makes Schlesinger not hit as hard as he could on some of Kennedy's white house days, this is still a great book that is a great addition to the historiography on President Kennedy.

It is a very long book
John Dalton
Aug 03, 2015 John Dalton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exhaustive though intentionally limited view of the Kennedy administration. By adopting the first person point of view, Schlesigner was able to present a view of the administration that is both insightful and honest. The most interesting sections, of course, are those when the author quotes Kennedy directly and comments on his style and substance. It is unfortunate that more of those involved in public service today do not read this. It presents an image of America that embraces public discourse ...more
The first thing about this book, I read the unabridged version wish I knew there was an abridged one, is that it is written by a Kennedy confidant and insider so you’re going to hear nothing negative. In addition is painfully detailed some items which probably could be covered in a couple of pages. Right in the beginning of the book, the large amount of pages taken to describe how they decided on LBJ as Vice President could have been edited. It’s okay for what it is, a very pro account of the Ke ...more
Matthew Bartlett
Aug 15, 2011 Matthew Bartlett rated it really liked it
The second in the family of Kennedy biographies. Written at the same time as Sorensen's biography, Schlesinger's account of JFK's life is also very highly polished and the first draft of history. Again, there is more of a focus on JFK's presidential years and not a lot on his background. (The information would not come to public knowledge many years later.) Over all, it's a bit of a journey to get through this biography. But it is written with a historical purpose by one of America's great histo ...more
Oct 14, 2016 I. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is not a usual reading, it takes time. Yet the piece is worth reading, indeed. Huge amount of data from various spheres, so much info, many interesting insights, different perspectives - elaborate, smart, well-written, ... I cannot but admire the author.
And I must confess I got even more interested in the Kennedy era and the world in the 1960s as whole. Inspired, inspiring.
Our problems are manmade – therefore, they can be solved by man.
Jul 23, 2014 Beverly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As special assistant to the president, Arthur Schlesinger witnessed the politics and personalities that influenced the Kennedy administration. Schlesinger’s relationship with JFK, as a politician and as a friend, has resulted in this account in which the president “walks through the pages, from first to last, alert, alive, amused and amusing” (John Kenneth Galbraith). So detailed, it is boring. And I really like other Kennedy books. Not worth your time.
Jun 20, 2010 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Schlesinger, although somewhat biased by his close personal relationship with Kennedy, is an excellent writer and historian, and this is a great insight into the reality of Camelot, focusing particularly on foreign policy but including the domestic agenda, and civil rights in particular. The hardcover edition is nearly 1100 pages, however, not 384, so be prepared to work on this one for a while - it is well worth the time.
Sep 11, 2008 J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gives a fascinating insight into the Kennedy White House from Kennedy's historian, who happened to be present at most all important events within the administration. One can surmise what Kennedy would have done in Vietnam from what he did in Laos. The author gives very clear reasoning to all of his arguments. One of the best Kennedy books (if not the best) I have ever read. One gets a very clear understanding of Kennedy's domestic and foreign policy. Excellent read!!!
Jan 12, 2015 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This rather lengthy read has a lot to chew on, and it's mostly good, entertaining and revealing information. Some of the chapters went into a lot more detail than I cared to read in 2015 about international issues from 1960, but on the other hand it gives an excellent portrait of JFK and some of the leaders in his administration. The chapter on Civil Rights was as good as any summation of the issues and the mood of the country at the time, from the 1950s through the early 1960s.
This is the inside dope on the Kennedy Presidency, told by one of the players, and submitted for publication within a year of JFK's death. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, it's packed with detail. It's also spin and it's written in a very formal style. I bailed out half way through.
Mar 02, 2008 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kennedy's Camelot presidency, soup to nuts. Sections on foreign policy unrelated to the USSR/Cuba/Vietnam were not as engaging, but remarkably vivid in its overall portrayal of America in the early 1960s. Schlesinger's tome can sometimes take on the feel of a "love-fest," but he makes JFK come to life.
Jun 25, 2014 Al rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very revealing view of the Kennedy presidency....not a biography, but the detailed inner workings of the administration as seen through the eyes of one of Kennedy's key advisors who served throughout the entire timeframe.
May 15, 2007 Josh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A learned a lot, but the most poignant moment came when JFK actually gets shot in Dallas. Although it seems like an inevitable, unavoidable truth for our generation, it didn't have to happen. The ending left me stunned and sad.
Burt Schoeppe
Oct 10, 2016 Burt Schoeppe rated it liked it
Shelves: political, biography
A very in-depth read, but not very critical.

Small sections on both Vietnam and the real possibility that Kennedy would not be re-elected in 1964.

No analysis of the various personal infidelities that had real potential to cause serious harm to the office of the presidency.
Rick Johnson
Nov 25, 2013 Rick Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book contains good insights into the campaign and White House years of the Kennedy era. It definitely left me wanting to learn more about Kennedy, especially about his decision to send advisors to Vietnam.
Kathy Kattenburg
Sep 09, 2012 Kathy Kattenburg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
This book should be read in the complete edition, which I did. I just listed the wrong edition. I didn't even know there was an abridged edition, but come on, you guys, suck it up, read the whole 858 pages Schlesinger wrote. Trust me, it's worth it.
Allen George
Dec 06, 2012 Allen George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easily the most comprehensive account of the Kennedy presidency, written with the candor and passion that only an insider could provide. It leaves you with a true sense of what was achieved...and what was lost.
Jun 30, 2014 henrys-axe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly one of the finest biographies on John F Kennedy. One of the few non-fiction works I would be willing to read a second time.
David Dube
Read the Dutch translation- will try English some time
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Arthur Meier Schlesinger Jr., born Arthur Bancroft Schlesinger, was a Pulitzer Prize recipient and American historian and social critic whose work explored the liberalism of American political leaders including Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy. He served as special assistant and "court historian" to President Kennedy from 1961 to 1963. He wrote a detailed account of th ...more
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