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President Kennedy: Profile of Power
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President Kennedy: Profile of Power

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  981 ratings  ·  28 reviews
President Kennedy is the compelling, dramatic history of JFK's thousand days in office. It illuminates the presidential center of power by providing an indepth look at the day-by-day decisions and dilemmas of the thirty-fifth president as he faced everything from the threat of nuclear war abroad to racial unrest at home.
Paperback, 800 pages
Published November 1st 1994 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1993)
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Steve Sckenda
Biographies of John F. Kennedy fall into two groups: biographers who worship him; and biographers who despise him. Richard Reeves walks that tricky middle ground, and he was widely praised for having written one of the first objective portraits of JFK. I read "President Kennedy: Profile of Power" back in the mid-nineties and made a few notes of particular interest to me.

Kennedy's Personality
Kennedy was dangerously disorganized. He had a love for chaos, a certain disorder that kept other men off
My immediate sense of this book was that it portrays a very different world than today. The biggest issues of Kennedy’s time: fear of nuclear war; the Berlin wall; Cuba; nuclear test ban treaties; and civil rights struggles in the South. Unlike some other presidential biographies, the issues here are never boring … well, until the end, when Kennedy and the book get bogged down a little too much in Vietnam.

One of the really nice things about this book is the way Reeves conveys a sense of Kennedy’
I hated this book sooooo much! It was boring, uninformative, and BORING! Never read this book if you want to live...
Reeve’s book is really a policy wonkish nearly day-by-day case study of JFK’s Presidency, focusing less on the events but how they were managed (and in some cases stage managed) exclusively from the perspective of the White House. Though somewhat prissy and snarky concerning Kennedy’s mistresses (and even offering a rather far-fetched medical explanation for his behavior), the book is more about Kennedy as a leader. His famous “collegial style” of leadership, for example, actually comes across a ...more
Aaron Million
This an almost day-by-day account of the Kennedy Administration. Reeves focuses primarily on policies and meetings, along with Kennedy's constant complaints about the press. It is disconcerting to read just how obsessed he and his entire staff were with image. Kennedy poured over several newspapers each morning, checking to see which paper was writing what about Vietnam, Cuba, the Civil Rights demonstrations, and Kennedy's policies. Unfortunately, I think this tendency to try to control the medi ...more
Carlos D
This was an excellent study of JFK's presidency from the perspective of crises management. Using primary sources such as letters, memos, State Dept. cables, etc., and interviews with parties involved, Reeves injects the reader into the White House inner circle. From Cuban Missile Crises, Vietnam, the Cold War dance with the USSR, to the civil rights movement and domestic economy, this book dissects the decision making process and demonstrates the complexity of variables and options in play for e ...more
Jul 18, 2007 Adam rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2007
A great inside view of how politicians manage themselves and their decisions. Interesting to wonder what was left out (how JFK and RFK worked together, etc.) that is probably covered in other books and didn't really fit the mission of this one.

Sometimes scary the parallels to current administration -- young leader who just wants it, though maybe he's not sure why, other than it seems like something to do. The inside story of how lost JFK was on how to handle Vietnam -- and how to handle his advi
Christopher Saunders
As with his Nixon book, Reeves provides a detailed, relatively balanced look at JFK's presidency. The main portrait impression is of a man who came to office supremely untested and out of his depth, but quickly grew on the job. Reeves' account is critical of Kennedy for his ambivalence on Civil Rights, his complicity in Vietnam (especially the Diem coup) and his womanizing. But his strengths come to the fore in dealing with the Soviets and his belated (but passionate) embrace of Civil Rights in ...more
I'm not officially done but so far I rate this book as a 4 star. I had no idea Kennedy swore.
This is one of my favorite books. Reeves's covers Kennedy's presidency from inauguration day to his assassination. Told in a day by day, week by week fashion, of all the presidential biographies I have read this one more than others puts you inside oval office and in the mind of a president. Reeves is obviously a big fan of Kennedy's, but he presents him warts and all, and leaves the reader to come to your own conclusions. Kennedy was on his way to being one of the greats.
Mark D.
My favorite book on JFK. Dispassionate and direct, like the man himself. Reeves lets the events themselves tell the story, and he puts the president back in the position of responsibility he held rather than musing about the backstories. Whatever his faults, the president deserves a book that treats him like the serious politician he was. In Reeves's effort, the well-worn path this president's life story has travelled gets just that sort of attention. It's hard to put down.
Excerpts of this were assigned in my college class, U.S. 1945-present. I took the class in 2000 and we barely made it through the Kennedy years. I re-read the whole book after graduating and during the time when I rode the T to the JFK/UMass stop to go to my job across the parking lot from the JFK Library and Museum. It's an interesting read, but can be a bit slow at times. It mainly focuses on Kennedy's presidential years (hence the title) and not his earlier life.
One of the best books I have read about the Kennedy Administration. Reeves goes into a lot of detail but it's well-researched, primary source material that gives his book credence. Not just dirt and rumors, though he does touch on the womanizing, the drugs and the health problems. It's mainly about how and why JFK made the policy decisions he did and the effect those decisions had on his reputation and the country.
Very detailed account of Kennedy's Presidency, often interesting, sometimes way too much detail--to the point of being boring. I did learn a lot about the era though. Kennedy's reaction to the civil rights movement was particularly interesting and a surprise to me. I would recommend it, with reservations. It will take some time to read and digest all of the info.
Love this book! It provides a view into Kennedy's days in the White House without pretense. Doesn't whitewash his negatives and doesn't play up his positives. Just a clear sense of what happened during his time. Shows Kennedy to be a politician with little equal at his time. Thoroughly enjoyable and as much of a page turner as any book I've ever read, fiction or non.
It's hard to balance the myth of Kennedy with the reality of the man, his actions on a national scale with his personal life and hard to put all of it into its proper historical perspective, but Reeves pulls it off. Kennedy gets a fair shake and his admirers will not be disappointed.
Not a very flattering picture of Kennedy. Even less flattering of Bobby. I learned a ton about the era. Lots of detail in this sometimes minute-by-minute account. Maybe too much detail. I think this took me about 6 weeks to slog through.
Reeves day-by-day account of the New Frontier is fast-paced and insightful. The reader sits in the president's rocking chair and hears the briefings, weighs the arguments, of his advisors. Read this book long ago; still a gripping read.
An intriguing study of President Kennedy's decision making. What did the President know? When did he learn it? What decisions were made or not made? The best of Reeve's Presidential studies (Nixon and Reagan the others).
David Cannon
Good book, but a little too detailed. This is probably not fair but I'm trying to find a good book that portrays the issues of the 60's (civil rights, Vietnam war , etc.). This is ok but not quite enough.
Edward Donahue
Awesome facts:
John Kennedy loved pain killers more than Johnny Cash.
Bobby Kennedy did the yelling when needed.
Neither had any concept of how money works.
Seth Oldmixon
Jackie Kennedy is said to have given copies of this book to her children with the advice, "If you want to know your father, he is in this book."
He was a mediocre president who did NOT want civil rights activism and who did very little. Good book, for an eh President.
Of all the books I've read about JFK this one presents the most - as far as I can tell - even handed account of his presidency.
excellent book, delves deep behind the scenes of the Kennedy presidency and the "Camelot" myth
One of the better books about the Kennedy Administration.
PEN Center USA
1994 PEN Center USA Award Winner for Nonfiction
Richard Reeves ticks me off.
Kevin Murphy
Kevin Murphy marked it as to-read
Mar 30, 2015
Grant Sorrell
Grant Sorrell marked it as to-read
Mar 30, 2015
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Richard Reeves, the bestselling author of such books as President Kennedy: Profile in Power, is an award-winning journalist who has worked for The New York Times, written for The New Yorker, and served as chief correspondent for Frontline on PBS. Currently the senior lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, he lives in Los Angeles.
More about Richard Reeves...
President Nixon: Alone in the White House Daring Young Men: The Heroism and Triumph of The Berlin Airlift-June 1948-May 1949 President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand Portrait of Camelot: A Thousand Days in the Kennedy White House

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