Synopses & Reviews
In his thousand-day presidency, John F. Kennedy led America through one of its most difficult and potentially explosive eras. With the Cold War at its height and the threat of communist advances in Europe and the Third World, Kennedy had the unenviable task of maintaining U.S. solidarity without leading the western world into a nuclear catastrophe.
In Kennedy's Wars, noted historian Lawrence Freedman draws on the best of Cold War scholarship and newly released government documents to illuminate Kennedy's approach to war and his efforts for peace. He recreates insightfully the political and intellectual milieu of the foreign policy establishment during Kennedy's era with vivid profiles of his top advisors--Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, Robert Kennedy--and influential figures such as Dean Acheson and Walt Rostow. Tracing the evolution of traditional liberalism into the Cold War liberalism of Kennedy's cabinet, Freedman evaluates their responses to the tensions in Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam. He gives each conflict individual attention, showing how foreign policy decisions came to be defined for each new crisis in the light of those that had gone before. Readers will follow Kennedy as he wrestles with the succession of major conflicts--taking advice, weighing the risks of inadvertently escalating the Cold War into outright military confrontation, exploring diplomatic options, and forming strategic judgments that would eventually prevent a major war during his presidency.
Kennedy's Wars offers a dynamic and human portrait of Kennedy under pressure: a political leader shaped by the ideas of his time, conscious of his vulnerability to electoral defeat but also of his nation's vulnerability to nuclear war. Military and Kennedy enthusiasts will find its balanced consideration of the president's foreign policy and provocative "what if" scenarios invaluable keys to understanding his accomplishments, failures, and enduring legacy.
"Lawrence Freedman's Kennedy's Wars is an elegant work, incisively written, penetrating and dispassionate in analysis--the best account we have of President Kennedy's foreign policy."--Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
"In this superbly researched and elegantly written book, Lawrence Freedman sheds new light on the Kennedy and Johnson administrations' handling of foreign affairs. Freedman's analysis of the brinkmanship of the Cold War and Vietnam is original. While I do not agree with every interpretation, Kennedy's Wars challenges common knowledge about what happened and why and points to lessons we can apply to the future."--Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense, 1961-1968
"Combining remarkable insight into issues of nuclear strategy and a detachment from American controversies and emotions about Camelot, Kennedy's Wars powerfully illustrates both the intricacy and the horror of the Kenned administration's endless debates over issues such as 'program packages' and the SIOP. It not only evaluates what exactly was at stake; it does so with some of JFK's own coolness." --Ernest May, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
"An admirably rich and careful study."--The Economist
"Lawrence Freedman's Kennedy's Wars is an elegant work, incisively written, penetrating and dispassionate in analysis--the best account we have of President Kennedy's
In this examination of President John F. Kennedy's dealings with tensions in Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam, a noted historian draws on the best of Cold War scholarship and newly released government documents to illuminate Kennedy as an effective military strategist who was able to prevent a major war during his presidency. 16 halftones. 3 maps.
About the Author
has been Professor of War Studies at King's College, London since 1982. He has written extensively on nuclear strategy and the Cold War, as well as commentating regularly on contemporary security issues. Elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1995, he was appointed by Prime Minister Tony Blair as Official Historian of the Falklands Campaign in 1997.