Thomas C. Reeves, A Question Of Character: A Life Of John F. Kennedy, 1991

977 words - 4 pages

John F. Kennedy is revered by many to be one of our nation's finest presidents: a man of upstanding character and sophistication who epitomized the moral and political principles Americans valued during his presidency and continue to value today. However, more recent exanimations of Kennedy's life reveal that his striking public image does not match up with his personal lifestyle. This contradiction in images is the topic of Thomas C. Reeves book, A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy. In Reeves' novel, he seeks to correct common misconceptions about the former president's personal life and moral convictions and to reveal the motives behind the Kennedy administration's actions by critically examining Kennedy and defining the key components of character successful presidents should possess.Reeves' book covers virtually all aspects of Kennedy's life and is primarily organized chronologically. While he does include details about Jack's early life and college years, the majority of the book is spent discussing Kennedy's political service including his senatorial position and his role as president. Reeves also highlights the implications of such major events as Kennedy's campaign for the presidency, the Bay of Pigs invasion and Operation Mongoose, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Kennedy's involvement in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Issues of character are also broached by including details of Kennedy's affairs with numerous women, his involvement with mafia chief Sam Giancana and his initial reluctance to promote civil rights legislation despite promising to do so in speeches made during his presidential campaign.Reeves begins his book by narrating the story of the first Kennedy's arrival in America, John F. Kennedy's paternal great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy. He also explains the Kennedys' rise to power through the works of John's father in the banking industry during the 1920's. A great deal of emphasis is placed on John's father, Joe, at the beginning of the book because of the strong influence he has on Kennedy's political aspirations. Reeves claims Joe pressures his son into politics because of his desire to see the Kennedy family achieve power and prestige. This claim is well supported due to the fact that Joe was very influential in shaping John's ideas about issues and at times even running election campaigns. Reeves also includes quotes from Kennedy suggesting he was only involved in politics because of his father. Joe is also important because much of John's moral misconduct, especially his notorious and multiple acts of adultery, was learned from his father.Reeves also argues that during the early portions of Kennedy's life and presidency he is interested only in votes and will say and do just about anything to get them. Reeves suggests many of Kennedy's actions during the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis were meant to win the support of the public and ensure reelection.Although I was initially...

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