Polly's Reviews > Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero

Jack Kennedy by Chris Matthews
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Jan 21, 2012

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Read in January, 2012

We people from Massachusetts think we know all about the Kennedys: bootlegging dad, mum as daughter of Mayor Honey Fitz, the daughter who had shock treatments, Joe Jr. killed in WWII, Bobby's civil rights work and sad end, Chappaquiddick, and, of course, all about Jack and Jackie. Well, some of us were wrong.

This book goes over territory that should be largely familiar, but brought to this Massachusetts resident lots of new telling details.

Such as:
- Joe Sr. didn't force JFK into politics; Jack was planning on driving off that bridge, er, I mean, driving down that road from his days at Choate.
- Lots of details about how stunningly Jack neglected Jackie. At one point, there's an almost throwaway line in the book about Jackie becoming discouraged and leaving the kids in the WH with Jack in early November 1963, and traveling around the Caribbean aboard Aristotle Onassis's yacht. The famous picture of John-John under the desk in the Oval Office is from that time.
- Despite Bobby's image as a fighter for human rights and and an all-round compassionate guy, he was picked to be Jack's enforcer and fixer. (And BTW, he didn't want to be AG -- THAT was Joe Sr.'s decision.)
- More detail about the PT-109 incident. I mean, I saw the movie when I was a kid fachrissakes -- but didn't realize the extent. (But since I saw it at the Wellfleet Drive-In, it's possible I was asleep in the back seat for much of the picture -- I must have been around 11, so no, I was not having sex back there.) After JFK swam for four hours dragging one of his men with his teeth, the arrived at an island that they believed to be held by the Japanese. So they managed to get to another island and find food and water. Then, for several nights in a row, Jack got back in the water trying to flag down an American patrol boat.
- The grave nature of his Addison's disease and two near-death episodes (we're talkin'last rites, kids).
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