Synopses & Reviews
A startling reconsideration of John F. Kennedy’s record and achievements
John F. Kennedy is lionized by liberals. He inspired LBJ to push for landmark civil rights laws. His “New Frontier” promised new spending on education and medical care for the elderly. His champions insist he would have done great liberal things had he not been killed by Lee Harvey Oswald.
But what if we judge him by the lengthy record of his actual political career, in historical perspective? What if this hero of liberals was, in fact, the opposite of a liberal?
As Ira Stoll convincingly argues, by the standards of both his time and our own, John F. Kennedy was a conservative. His two great causes were anticommunism and economic growth. His tax cuts, which spurred one of the greatest economic booms in our history, were fiercely opposed by his more liberal advisers. He fought against unions. He pushed for free trade and a strong dollar. And above all, he pushed for a military buildup and an aggressive anticommunism around the world. Indeed, JFK had more in common with Ronald Reagan than with LBJ.
Not every Republican is a true heir to Kennedy, but hardly any Democrats deserve that mantle. JFK, Conservative is sure to appeal to conservative readers — and will force liberals to reconsider one of their icons.
"Comprehensive, judicious, evenhanded, original. An Unfinished Life has the sober judgment and nuanced accuracy that make it ring true in all the controversial and tricky parts."--Jack Newfield, Los Angeles Times
"An intimate portrait indeed . . . unexpected and important. . . . This is nothing if not a profile in courage."--Ted Widmer, New York Times Book Review
"It's hard to believe that someone could find anything new to say about John F. Kennedy, but Dallek succeeds in this riveting and well-documented biography."--The New Yorker
"One of the most engrossing biographies I have ever read. . . . An Unfinished Life is nothing less than a masterpiece."--David Herbert Donald, author of Lincoln
"Neither debunking nor further mythologizing, Dallek fashions a balanced but fast-paced tale of sex and power that scribes from Shakespeare to Jacqueline Susann would have killed for."--Steve Dougherty, People
"An informative analysis of the ways in which J.F.K. did indeed evince his conservative side—he was very religious, open to a free market unencumbered by governmental interference, and staunchly anti-Communist." - Publishers Weekly
"Insightful and well-researched...This volume will appeal to readers seeking an unvarnished appraisal of Kennedy policymaking." -Library Journal
"Stoll makes a solid case by carefully scouring the record. A compelling textual study of how JFK became all things to all people." - Kirkus
"A wonderfully mischievous analysis...Stolls lively disputation offers a distinctive contribution to the debate." - New York Times Book Review
"Provocative and compelling...Ira Stoll has succeeded in changing our very perception of Kennedy as one of liberalisms heroes." -- The Weekly Standard
"Stoll convincingly argues that the president - despite his iconic status among liberals - had more in common with Republicans of the Reagan era." -- The Brooklyn Eagle
"All the more brilliant, then, is JFK, Conservative, Ira Stolls new biography. Stoll cracks the surface of progressive nostalgia and digs up facts that others have left covered over. He shines his miners flashlight on material that challenges the progressive stereotype and brings to light nuggets of information and resources that no one else has retrieved." -- Forbes
"Mr. Stoll makes a strong case that in 1960 ‘the anti-Communist, anti-big government candidate was John F. Kennedy. The one touting government programs and higher salaries for public employees was Richard Nixon, he writes.” -- The Wall Street Journal
"Stoll, author of a fine biography of Samuel Adams and former managing editor of the New York Sun, makes a strong case that conservatives should stake a claim to President Kennedy as one of their own. JFK, Conservative is a finely crafted brief for this interpretation — and it comes close to winning the case… Stoll makes a strong case that JFK was neither the idealistic liberal of legend nor even the pragmatic liberal that the historical consensus suggests he was…[An] excellent study." -- The National Review
"Loony" -- The New Yorker
“[Stoll] assembles sufficient evidence that his books title is not merely provocative.” -- George Will, The Washington Post
“JFK, Conservative is an eminently readable book, providing substantial and convincing evidence, both pro and con, as to how we should judge Kennedys politics. Stoll does a particularly admirable job in his devils advocacy, bringing forth much source material from Kennedys liberal supporters as a counter-balance to his thesis...Stolls book proves eye opening and enjoyable in showing that there were aspects of JFKs ideology worth admiring, much to the chagrin of his leftist champions.” -- The Blaze
“I guarantee you this one's not going to be studied at the universities any time soon, so we need to study it in our own life.” -- Glenn Beck
“It is the best book of nonfiction I have read this entire year. It is provocative. It makes you rethink a lot of things. It changes what you thought you always knew.” -- Jack Riccardi, KTSA Radio, San Antonio
“Its overdue…Im surprised no one has written this directly about JFK until now...Great book.” - Howie Carr, WRKO Radio, Boston
- AN UNFINISHED LIFE became an immediate #1 bestseller upon publication, spent two months on the "New York Times bestseller list, and is now in its fifth hardcover printing (295,000 copies).- The book's fresh revelations have prompted front-page stories in newspapers throughout the world.- The Kennedys remain America's royal family, the subject of endless media attention and national fascination.- Rights already sold in 12 countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the UK.
While JFK remains the subject of endless media attention and national fascination more than 40 years after his assassination, Dallek's book provides fresh revelations and perspective.
The #1 bestseller that forever changed how we thought about JFK, published with a new epilogue in time for the 50th
anniversary of Kennedy's assassination.
When it was originally published in 2003, AN UNFINISHED LIFE brought to light new revelations about JFK's health, his love affairs, his brothers and father, and the path JFK would have taken in the Vietnam entanglement if he had survived. A blockbuster bestseller, the book was embraced by critics and readers as a landmark assessment of our 35th president. Now, in time for what promises to be remarkable media attention on Kennedy's death and legacy, AN UNFINISHED LIFE returns with a new, strikingly incisive examination by Robert Dallek in which he further assesses JFK's impact and hold on American culture.
For the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy comes a sure-to-be-controversial argument that by virtually any standard, JFK was far more conservative than liberal.
About the Author
Robert Dallek is one of the most highly regarded historians in America today and the author of more than a dozen books, including his two-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson, Lone Star Rising and Flawed Giant, and Nixon and Kissinger. Currently a faculty member at Stanford University's prestigious Washington program, he has also taught at Boston University, Columbia University, UCLA and Oxford.
Table of Contents
1. PT 109 9
2. Congressman 17
3. Senator Kennedy 38
4. Presidential Campaign 53
5. Transition and Inauguration 80
6. The New Frontier: Domestic Policy 94
7. Tax Cutter 122
8. The Cold War and the Freedom Doctrine 140
9. The Death of a President 181
10. Passing the Torch 197