Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero

Chris Matthews, Simon & Schuster

It’s hard to believe it has been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy and the days of Camelot in the White House. Fortunately, this anniversary already has produced two revealing new portraits of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, one a written appreciation of his life by television commentator Chris Matthews, the other a recently unsealed conversation between historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and Jacqueline Kennedy, conducted just four months after President Kennedy was assassinated.

In Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero, MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews attempts to answer the question, “What was Jack Kennedy like?”

Matthews crafts this extremely enjoyable bio from past interviews with Kennedy’s top advisors, along with documents and firsthand stories. What emerges is an extraordinary and likable look at Kennedy, who, despite sickness, near-constant pain and the most difficult odds, wills himself into becoming one of the most powerful men in the world; a man who successfully averted nuclear Armageddon.

The book covers familiar terrain from JFK’s sickly childhood to his various political campaigns, but, to his credit, Matthews never hides his admiration for the man and, in the end, we see Kennedy as a complex person who, in Matthews’ opinion, was “a far greater hero than he ever wanted us to know.” Grade: A