Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Kennedy. Theodore C. Sorenson (24)

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.

The Cuban Missile Crisis: “I had prepared a four-page memorandum outlining the areas of agreement and disagreement, the full list of possibilities and…the unanswered questions.” p. 773. ………. “On Thursday afternoon subcommittees were set up to plot each of the major courses in detail…kind of blockade…likely Soviet response…U.S. responses to Communist responses.” p. 776. ………. “He [JFK] liked the idea of leaving Khrushchev a way out, of beginning at a low level that could be stepped up.” p. 780. ………. “Yet it was true that the blockade approach remained somewhat nebulous and I agreed to write the first rough draft of a blockade speech as a means of focusing on specifics.” p. 780. ………. “Among the texts I read for background were the speeches of Wilson and Roosevelt declaring World Wars I and II.” p. 781. ………. The moral of the crisis: “While defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war.” p. 783. ………. “…adopted the term ‘quarantine’ as less belligerent and more applicable to an act of peaceful self-preservation than ‘blockade.’ ”. p. 783.

To be continued.

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