Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kennedy. Theodore C. Sorenson (20).

Special Counsel to the Late President. New York: Bantam Books. 1966.

Why read it? To understand Kennedy’s philosophy of the Presidency. His humor. His wisdom. He could think on his feet. His ability to own up to his mistakes and to learn from them. To appreciate the vast range of responsibilities faced by the President. His style. You won’t learn any of the details of his extra-marital affairs in this book. It focuses on John Kennedy, an American who was elected President by one of the narrowest margins in history. He instilled a spirit of confidence in the American people, and his assassination destroyed that spirit.

JFK: “A willingness to resist force, unaccompanied by a willingness to talk, could provoke belligerence—while a willingness to talk, unaccompanied by a willingness to resist force, could invite disaster.” p. 575. ………. JFK: “Because of the ingenuity of science and man’s own inability to control his relationships with one another…we happen to live in the most dangerous time in the history of the human race.” p. 576. ………. JFK: “When that day comes, and there is a massive exchange, then that is the end, because you are talking about…150 million fatalities in the first eighteen hours…the equivalent for this country of five hundred World War II’s in less than a day.” p. 597. ………. JFK: “We have to proceed with…care in an age when the human race can obliterate itself.” p. 577. ………. “In 1963 he would cite the 1914 conversation between two German leaders on the origins and expansion of that war [WWI], a former chancellor asking, ‘How did it all happen?’ and his successor saying, ‘Ah, if only one knew.’ ” p. 578.

JFK: “If this planet is ever ravaged by nuclear war—if the survivors of that devastation can then endure the fire, poison, chaos and catastrophe—I do not want one of those survivors to ask another, ‘How did it all happen?’ and receive the incredible reply, ‘Ah, if only one knew.’ ”p. 578. ………. JFK: “Our words need merely to carry conviction, not belligerence.” p. 580. ………. JFK: “If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself; if we are weak, words will be of no help.” p. 580. ………. JFK: “World peace…does not require that each man love his neighbor…only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement.” p. 580. ………. JFK: “If the Soviet Union were merely seeking to…protect its own national security, and permit other countries to live as they wish…then I believe that the problems which cause so much tension would fade away.” To Izvestia in 1961. p. 580. ………. JFK: “Negotiations are not a contest spelling victory or defeat.” p. 581.

To be continued.

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