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Conversations with Kennedy

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  286 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Ben Bradlee first came to know John Kennedy well when they were Washington neighbors in 1958. They remained good friends and off-the-record confidants until President Kennedy's death. They also had a more professional relationship governed by Bradlee's job covering the capital for Newsweek.

Bradlee and his wife Tony participated in the parties at the White House and in more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 17th 1984 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1975)
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Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As Time pushes us further and further away from the days of John F. Kennedy's presidency, it is hard for those with a living memory of his Presidency (and harder still for those of us who were not alive when JFK was in the White House) to have a full perspective of what John F. Kennedy was in life. That is why this book, "CONVERSATIONS WITH KENNEDY", by Ben Bradlee, a journalist who knew Kennedy on a personal level between 1958 and 1963, is so important.

In the space of 244 pages, the reader is
Mar 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Bradlee and Kennedy shared a close professional and personal relationship for five years, from 1958 to 1963. The men were both war veterans, idealists and up-and-coming leaders. The men shared a lot of values and interests which would lead a reader to believe this book was going to provide deep insight and perspective into their lives and friendship. The synopsis promises that Bradlee will reveal JFK’s reviews on everything from Communism to conservatism to freedom of the press; from parties at ...more
Gisela Hausmann
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book! In times like these when we wonder about the president's relationship with the press it is wonderful to know that this concept used to work.

Ben Bradlee wrote a beautiful, intimate portrait of Kennedy, retelling his special relationship. If I wanted to quote lines (moments) that moved me I'd have to write a book because there are so many. In a way I am glad that Bradlee did not get to see how our current president insults many respected members of the press, people a presi
Laurie Hoppe
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir
Ben and Tony Bradlee met Jack and Jackie Kennedy when they were Georgetown neighbors, back in 1958. They became fast friends, and the relationship deepened when the Kennedys entered the White House. It's a touching, affectionate memoir of a historic figure as few saw him. He's charming and funny. Vain and defensive. At times vulgar but never cruel. Smart and curious. Always fascinating.

This book really made me think ... and in ways probably not intended by Ben Bradlee as he wrote it. For example
Jan 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Read this years ago and remember liking it.
Viviane Crystal
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Conversations with Kennedy begins by describing how Bradlee and Kennedy met, explains some early gaps in their brief friendship, and discusses the relationship that Bradlee was always the first to examine with caution. For a journalist when is the line between professional journalism and friendship crossing and how does that affect the “story” one is writing and presenting to the public? Kennedy, on the other hand, believes that with a biography or autobiography, one truly gets to know “who the ...more
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Entertaining Read: Very Few Revelations

Until I read this book, I had no idea how close John Kennedy & Ben Bradlee were. Their fathers knew each other, both had Boston & Harvard roots, worked in the Navy, were neighbors in Georgetown, had children of same age and socialized with each other to a point of having dinners together, sometime several times a week at short notices and their wives Jackie & Toni were friends.

Ben Bradlee shares those conversations with Kennedy in this book, mos
Jan 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio_autobio, history
This is a good book about history, but not so much a good history book. There's a lot of interesting insight into Kennedy and his administration, but more anecdotal rather than a broad explanation of what happened.

Benjamin Bradlee was a friend of Kennedy's and also a reporter for Newsweek, so the book is like a diary of conversations he had with Kennedy, places his family went with the Kennedys, etc. It would be a really good book if you lived through that time, or knew about the era, but if you
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
A Different View of The Kennedy Family
A well written, easy to read book. This book is a collection of conversations that Benjamin Bradlee had with President and Mrs. Kennedy. These conversations and Mr. Bradlee’s thoughts about them are glimpses of the private side to President Kennedy that I hadn’t read about. There were breaks in the conversations due to the author’s work at Newsweek and the President’s distaste for some of what was written – that is the great part – Mr. Bradlee wasn’t someone
Patrick Slavin
I learned about this book from a JFK Library podcast and it's a must for Kennedy admirers. Before becoming a celebrity as the Watergate and Pentagon Papers editor of the Washington Post, Ben Bradlee was a Washington insider as a longtime Newsweek bureau chief. His neighbor in Georgetown was Senator John F. Kennedy - close in age, school tie as Harvard grads, World War II Naval officers in the Pacific, with wives and young children. They became good friends and the relationship continued after JF ...more
Aug 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I've wanted to read this for years, but when at the library, I'd forget. And this book is quite slim compared to Kennedy bios, so it was also easily overlooked. I was lucky enough to find it, in hardcover and in excellent condition, at our church's book sale, and read it cover to cover in the space of a day. Although JBK strenuously objected to the writing of this book by Bradlee, and shunned him and his wife, Tony, forever after, there isn't much damaging information here. What is interesting i ...more
Diana Long
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author only knew the Kennedy's for a short time, mainly as a journalist...then a neighbor...then as a friend. These conversations, for the most part were off the record, but the President was aware that the author was taking notes and would not be written about for at least 5 years after Kennedy left the Office of POTUS. This book does not contain anything secret or major so to speak, but shows the Kennedy family in a more relaxed atmosphere, just humans after all. It must have been special ...more
May 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Journalist Benjamin C Bradlee had a close professional and personal relationship with JFK, and in this often revealing collection of conversations he had with him gives an insight into Kennedy the private rather than the public man. For devotees of JFK the book will be a rich treasure trove of anecdote, and even for those like myself who are fairly immune to the widespread admiration that Kennedy still inspires, there is much to enjoy here. However, on the whole I found it all a little bland, an ...more
John Wood
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ben Bradlee, had a unique perspective on JFK. He was Kennedy's neighbor and close friend since 1958 and political writer for Newsweek covering the Kennedy administation. He and his wife Tony visited the White House for many public and private occasions. This book of his recollections gives an interesting view of the Kennedys as regular people as well as almost mythical figures. Though no amazing revelations, it does offer us an inside look and a view of the machinations of US politics and govern ...more
Jun 24, 2016 marked it as to-read
* Top 10 Greatest Leaders of All Time

The Leader: John F. Kennedy

Arguably America’s most popular president, definitely the suavest, John F. Kennedy knew and understood the capability and more so the mortality of a single man. Which is why he made good on personal relationships. In Conversations with Kennedy, acclaimed journalist and good friend Benjamin C. Bradlee reveals the man under that perfectly quaffed do.
Nov 18, 2014 rated it liked it
I read a lot of books about JFK and this one had a different slant. Ben Bradlee became close to JFK when he was a neighbor of the Senator. As a result he had access to a friend who just happened to become President of the U.S. This made things fairly difficult for Bradlee, a journalist, who oftentimes had to sit on a story because of his friendship. There are a lot of fascinating stories and it is interesting to read about JFK's personal life from an actual friend.
Danae Samson
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As one of Kennedy's favorite journalists, Bradlee is given an unrestricted, sometimes unsettling look into the president's work and private life. It is his little notes about JFK's humor, habits and shortcomings that make this one of my favorite books. I have read it a few times and each time, something strikes me as incredibly personal and poignant about Bradlee's love and perception of Kennedy. Anyone will enjoy this book.
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a tender, often insightful, look at a president some of us remember as one who could motivate people, who gave us a new vision and new hope, and often did this with great humor.

Bradlee was a personal friend as well as a Newsweek reporter at the time and this combination gives us an unusual inside look at JFK and his family - and it's a page turner as well.
Oct 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
It took me forever to finish this book (and it's a small book). I think I had so much difficulty for a couple of reasons. 1). There is a lot of name dropping, and that would be fine if you were a Washington insider in the 50's and 60's, but much was loss to me because I am not. 2). I had read several of the anecdotes in Bradlee's other book, A Good Life, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Douglas Fugate
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
A unique read, as this was written by Mr. Bradlee who was neighbor to the then Senator and Mrs. Kennedy. The neighbors became close friends both before and during the White House years. The conversations show John Kennedy in a light not related in history or biography books.
Nov 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very quick reading. A lot of small, but fascinating insights into Kennedy's personality and intellect. Ben Bradlee was a neighbor and friend to the family, and his account felt honest, and never tell-all trashy.
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is a compilation of Ben Bradlee's notes and recollections of personal, not as a journalist, conversations with President Kennedy. It reveals his and Jackie's personalities when they were not in public. Nothing earthshattering is revealed, but it was interesting.
Chloe Walker
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Best book about any Kennedy I've read. Did such a good job of humanising him by never straying into hagiography and laying out their friendship difficulties in a frank, interesting manner. JFK worrying about his man boobs made me laugh so hard.
Aug 24, 2012 rated it liked it
great candid conversations with JFK.
Jim Cullison
Nov 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Worth reading once. Captures the Mad Men vibe of the early 60s. Not sure how insightful or profound it is, although it was used quite heavily as a source in subsequent Kennedy bios.
Oct 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Bradlee's very human observations of JFK clearly come from a close personal relationship, even if the president may not have acknowledged it that way.
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Jan 06, 2017
rated it really liked it
Jun 24, 2016
Sally Chasman
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Jan 19, 2016
rated it it was ok
May 11, 2015
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Father of Ben Bradlee Jr.
Benjamin Crowninshield "Ben" Bradlee is vice-president at large of the Washington Post. Born in Boston, Bradlee attended Harvard College. In 1942, he became a communications officer for the Office of Naval Intelligence and fought in thirteen battles during World War II. Bradlee became executive editor of the Washington Post in 1968, a position he held until 1991. During th
More about Benjamin C. Bradlee

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“Journalism is just the first rough draft of history,” 0 likes
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