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Forty Ways to Look at JFK

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  121 ratings  ·  18 reviews
“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived, and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”
–John F. Kennedy

Statesman and hero, opportunist and fraud. John F. Kennedy’s contradictions have inspired such fascination that the public’s interest in him has never dimmed. Now, with the same striking technique she used in the
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 25th 2005 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2005)
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Jul 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Gretchen's Rubin's tour de force on the life and presidency of John F. Kennedy, for which her excellent 40 Ways to Look at Winston Churchill now seems a warm up, presents a many-faceted view of both Kennedy's meteoric political career and his hidden personal life. As Rubin points out, borrowing Isaiah Berlin's famous comparison, if Churchill was a hedgehog guided by one great idea, Kennedy was a fox, whose perspective constantly shifts. While Kennedy may not have lived up to the stature of his h ...more
Feb 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
My interest in reading this book was to try and get a true picture of a man who has become a legend. The veneration JFK receives seemed to be incongruous with the few things I knew about him/his presidency: the Bay of Pigs which in most accounts was a disaster, the space race which I admire but is it really cause for legend hood, and civil rights which my recollection put more squarely on Johnson's shoulders, and of course his mysterious assasination. So what did Kennedy do that made him such a ...more
The subject matter: fascinating. The execution: a little less interesting than Rubin's 40 Ways to Look at Winston Churchill.

Perhaps because I knew more about JFK than Churchill (thought I'd never read a biography of either), or perhaps because Kennedy's life was shorter and therefore provided less "ways" to look at him, but I found this volume to be a bit repetitive.

Still, worth a read, especially for Kennedy fans. And I sincerely hope Gretchen Rubin does more of these 40 Ways biographies.

If you
Mar 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Rubin calls the Kennedy story “the ‘beach book’ of presidential biographies,” and that’s the perfect summation of this book. The Forty Ways format got a little repetitive, but I knew almost nothing about JFK, so it was an enlightening read for me (though I wish I could scrub my mind of the details from that dude’s sexual exploits).
Joni McNeal
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Different perspectives of JFK I hadn’t considered but made a lot of assumptions of previous knowledge with no real timeline.
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
It's been a few years since I read the author's 40 Ways to Look at Winston Churchill, but to the best of my recollection, that was the superior volume.

In that earlier work, a greater effort was placed into living up to the title. I recall their being several thesis about Churchill being thrown over the wall as it were, and then followed over that wall by the author in a mostly convincing, through provoking way. It made the whole experiment interesting.

This volume fails to achieve that depth.

Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
The reason I knew this book existed was reading the Ms. Rubin's happiness book. I am always interested in most things Kennedy (which is not my fault, Kennedy fascination was like fluoride in water during my upbringing, inescapable). I did not learn anything new about JFK, but that was kind of the point; the author wants to look at all the info and contrast and compare, as we did in high school English class.

So the idea has potential, I think, but the end product is limited. The format is like a
Stephanie Andreasen
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved the format of this book- a refreshing approach to telling a life story.

But I must say that I disagree with Rubin. JFK was not a great man. I have no patience for his lies, adultery, opportunism, and general lack of integrity. As Rubin put it, he was "Fortune's favorite." He left a legacy of glamour and intrigue- due mostly to elements outside of his control. At the end of the day Kennedy was without any real goodness. I am convinced that has he not died in such a terrific and sensationa
Jim Lang
Oct 09, 2013 rated it liked it
A friend loaned this to me, as I love history, and I must say that I really enjoyed it. Gretchen Rubin uses a clever approach to examine the strengths and flaws of JFK, and while it becomes repetitive in spots, it is an enjoyable examination of one of our most compelling presidents. I appreciate the unique approach to examining Kennedy.
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
By far one of my favorite Kennedy books, and I have read many. A new look and take on the Kennedy legacy-the author looks to explain what made Kennedy-Kennedy, one of fortunes favored few with an enduring interest and love from the American people.
Emi Rigby
Jun 23, 2011 rated it liked it
A very unique approach to a biography, this book goes through the life of JFK subject-by-subject. All sides of Kennedy's life are examined separately, giving you a good idea of the man and his presidency.
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the only biography on JFK that I have read. It is a unique approach to writing a biography and I enjoyed it. There was a lot of information about JFK that I did not know and it makes you wonder about character and public image.
B. Hallward
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: all, biography
A quick read: harmless but rather superficial.
Dec 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Each chapter was very repetitive. I don't know if it is meant to be read through. You will definitely learn his life and see him in a new light after this book.
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, non-fiction
This was fascinating. I think Gretchen Rubin is such a terrific writer, and like most people, I'm pretty interested in JFK.
Not as good as "Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill", but worth the read.
Jun 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Gets repetitive as it goes on, but fascinating discussions at times, especially when trying to investigate his actively cultivated media presence.
Kay Schenkel
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: enjoyment
Interesting take on JFK and what has made him so beloved. Rubin shows how what biographers leave out can tell a whole other story.
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