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Why England Slept
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Why England Slept

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  110 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Written by John F. Kennedy in 1940 when he was still in college and reprinted in 1961 when he was president, this book is an appraisal of the tragic events of the thirties that led to World War II. It is an account of England's unpreparedness for war and a study of the shortcomings of democracy when confronted by the menace of totalitarianism.
Hardcover, 252 pages
Published October 16th 1981 by Praeger (first published November 1940)
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JFK wrote this when he was in quite a glimpse into one of the best minds ever to be in the oval office.

Too bad w can't read , maybe this would have helped him some!
Written, I assume in 1940, Kennedy's book examines the reasons why England was so slow to re-arm before WWII, with many quotations and facts and figures. He resists the temptation to lay all the blame on Baldwin or Chamberlain, but instead analyses the differences between a totalitarian state and a democracy in the way a nation makes its decisions. It is all the more poignant being written without the benefit of hindsight or of knowing the outcome of a war against a well armed foe. We would do w ...more
This is an extraordinary book not only because it was written as a college thesis by a future president but the lessons learned 75 years ago are still apt today. And not just as they relate to the international scene. JFK discusses how easy it is for a totalitarian regime to impose its will on a nation, particularly with a rigid state run media in support. A democracy, on the other hand is slower to react because it responds to the will of the people and can find itself behind when a crisis occu ...more
D.m. Smith
This book is not in what might be considered a "popular format". For one thing, the typesetting of large numbers of dollars or pounds Sterling is very old-school, and a little difficult to read. It takes getting used to.

On the other hand, this is an incisive report on the progression of England (and to a certain extent the US) from WWI to the Munich Agreement. For those who assume that Prime Minister Chamberlain was simply an "appeaser", because that's what we've always been told, this short nar
Persephone Abbott
The impulse behind this book: "I believe it is one of democracy's failings that it seeks to make scapegoats for its own weaknesses." And then the layout of which politician said what when, numbers, all very thesis orientated as indeed it was Kennedy's thesis and was published in order to promote his career goals. Reading it made me wonder about Mrs. Kennedy's soul searching inquiry "Do you think a wife should let her husband think he's smarter than she is?" Still a highly competent analysis of t ...more
I never new John F Kennedy had such good analytical sense. This book is about the 1930s in England: international relations, local politics and national defense. It asks why England did not prevent German aggression, and why they pursued a policy of appeasement (they did not have the power to back up any threats). On a larger level it is about the relative merits and weaknesses of democracy compared to totalitarian government.

I did not give this book more stars, because even though it is inform
This book should be required reading for all government leaders in a democracy. John Kennedy shows how smart, perceptive, and thoughtful he is at a very young age ( in 1940) when he wrote this book. It was very difficult to find a copy of it to read, which is sad. More Americans should read it, as he speaks very thoughtfully and forcefully about the strengths and weaknesses of a democracy when it comes to waging war.
I’ve had plenty of friends who thought JFK had good insight and vision, but I didn’t understand what they meant until I read this book. His analytical sense was so keen that I thought that he was psychic about what’s going on today in the world. He easily understood what happened then in England and why it could happen in the states. I recommend everyone should look at this book sometime in their lives to understand politics a bit better. It just goes to show you what can be done if you research ...more
JFK's evaluation of why it took England so long to realize the threat posed by Germany's rearmament and increasing belligerence during the 1930's. His basic conclusion is that while a democratic and capitalistic system is superior over the long term, a dictatorship is more effective in preparing for and prosecuting war at the outset. An interesting study, especially when one considers it was written well before the outcome of WWII was known.
Jul 22, 2010 Maureen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone, especially history buffs
Shelves: history
This was Kennedy's thesis paper at Harvard, on why England did not rise sooner to confront the forces of totalitarianism that led to the second World War. It is an interesting little book, not particularly well-written, but nonetheless useful in generating ideas about a subject we should be thinking more about today.
It is a good lesson about being prepared and being blinded, even guided by what others might think or do when we make a decision. I enjoyed the matter of fact way John Kennedy wrote.
This was interesting, but obviously more a curiosity than anything else.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, often referred to by his initials JFK, was the thirty-fifth President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.

After Kennedy's military service as commander of the Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109 during World War II in the South Pacific, his aspirations tu
More about John F. Kennedy...
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