Here is the gripping story of Jack's transformation from an awkward speaker into a brilliant politician with irresistible charm. The audiobook carries us from Jack's work as a senator from Massachusetts, through the fiercely contested 1960 campaign against Nixon, and takes us on to the White House itself.
An Unfinished Life also discloses for the very first time that Kennedy was far sicker than we ever knew. While laboring to present an image of robust good health, Kennedy was secretly in and out of hospitals through-out his life, so ill that he was administered last rites on several different occasions. Here is a vivid portrait of a man who, because he knew how close he was to death, lived as much as he could - sometimes hurting others in the process.
Never shying away from Kennedy's weaknesses, Dallek also brilliantly explores his strengths. The result is a portrait of a bold, brave, human Kennedy, once again a hero.
©2003 Robert Dallek; (P)2003 Time Warner AudioBooks. A division of the AOL Time Warner Book Group.
"Sets the historical record straight...pitch-perfect prose...hands-down the best biography of JFK...a truly remarkable achievement." (Douglas Brinkley, author of The Unfinished Presidency)
"In this riveting tour de force...Dallek delivers what will most assuredly become the benchmark JFK biography for this generation...[He] is to be thanked for providing this thoroughly researched, well-sourced, responsible and readable biography that has for so long been wanting in Kennedy scholarship." (Publishers Weekly)
"...riveting and well-documented biography." (New Yorker)
"Richard McGonagle brings the president to life, mimicking the famous accents so well that his renditions of Kennedy speeches compare favorably to Kennedy's own renderings." (AudioFile)
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"A Great Biography - Neccessarily Disappointing"
Any biography of JFK is bound to be unsatisfying for the reason that is the title of this great biography, <U>An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963</U>. The abrupt nature of JFK's assassination in 1963 makes the hope and promise of his administration so much more frustrating for its loss.
Dallek provides an exhaustive, if fleeting in the abridgement, review of Kennedy's life, from the family dynamics that preceded his birth to the day he died. He reaffirms all of Kennedy's failings and celebrates is triumphs.
Narration provided by Richard McGonagle is very good, who when speaking lines by Kennedy, does so with the distinctive Massachusetts accent. This was actually annoying to me at first but I must say, grew on me to where I came to expect it as the book went on.
I would very much like the opportunity to hear the unabridged version of this book but doubt if it would provide any more answers to the unanswered questions of why?
Dallek deliberately avoids, to his credit but to my disappointment, any speculation about conspiracy theories with regard to Kennedy's death.
Most amazing to me about this book were the revelations about Kennedy's unbelieveable medical problems and the lengths he and those around him went to conceal them and treat them.
I highly recommend this book. Kennedy, whether you believe he was a great president or not, was a peacemaker and filled the world with hope for better days.
"Dry as a bone"
Dallek's overview of the Kennedy legacy is a political, not personal one. He stays away from pretty much everything that made Kennedy a compelling figure, focusing on a cut-and-dried political biography. One wishes he'd linger a bit on Kennedy's persona, charm and wit, but he instead plows full steam ahead with a "just the facts" account of JFK's brief White House tenure.
"A Great Biography"
Dallek was my professor at UCLA and I read the book before listening to the audo - a great book, readable and compelling. Dallek illuminates how JFK's illnesses were a significant force in shaping his character for the better and for the worse. He documents in great detail some of the most frightening moments in the cold war, political machinations and intrigue, the early days of the civil rights movements and how JFK and the political establishment reacted to this new reality. There is just so much here - there are passages that will have people hitting "rewind" to play again. A great book!
"Good informative book"
Overall I really enjoyed this book and felt as if I came away knowing more about the time in which Kennedy lived.
My 8 year old received an assignment to do a biography on a famous person. Of course looking to Mom for direction I search my memory for a name and a face of a person I would consider a hero...ah John Kennedy. I listened to the book and gave my daughter tibbits, and then at the end Robert Dallek answered a nagging question for me... Why would I choose Kennedy? (I barely knew him, and I was only three years old when he died.) I enjoyed this book...and my daughter talked about him like an uncle.
"too much history, not enough of the man"
I had selected this book hoping to learn more about JFK the person, not get a history lesson about civil rights, the Cuban missile crisis, back-channel letters between the US/JFK and Kruschev and secretly installed microphones taping Kennedy's talks with his advisors. Definitely not something that holds your attention for long periods of time.
"Great starter to Kennedy for me"
I would definitely recommend if you wish to gain an unbiased timeline on JFK
I enjoyed the reading
"greatly enhanced my knowledge of his story!"
greatly enhanced my all around knowledge of JFK, his upbringing, and his vision for America and why he might have been killed for standing FOR Americans, in the warpath to usurp our natural liberties.
"A little too emphasis on his health"
I never read the book
Nothing really compelling
He stresses his S's and it is annoying as hell
This biography does not contain any strong bias towards, or away from, the Kennedy mystique. Instead, Dallek writes the facts and lets the reader determine the level of appreciation, or non-appreciation, they have for JFK. The author also uses the most up-to-date information on the life of Kennedy and weaves it seamlessly into the existing facts. A wonderful book.
I draw a comparison to the book, "Eisenhower: In War and Peace" by Jean Edward Smith. Both books provide a wonderful narrative of the President from youth until death. Doing so without ever straying far from facts and balanced perspective. Both books are also highly enjoyable to listen (read) to - outstanding narration. Also, the books hold the readers interest in all facets of the Presidents' lives.
Kennedy: Perseverance and Pain. ... I cannot believe that with all his health issues that Kennedy was able to preside over the nation in an effective manner.
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