Yup, he’s still my favorite

Jack Kennedy:
Elusive Hero
by Chris Matthews

Chris Matthews, along with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, are
heavily responsible for that political science degree of mine. Matthews’ Hardball and Woodstein’s All the President’s Men were too good
to resist. I needed more.
It’s been a year or two since that first semester of college
[understatement, anyone?], and I’m still hooked on this stuff.
So this new book, by Matthews, about my favorite president (even
though yes, I know: Lincoln
was nobler) was beyond irresistible.
It’s a glowing portrait of JFK, and I’m OK with that. 

Here’s a
sense of Matthews’ take: “In searching for Jack Kennedy, I found a fighting
prince never free from pain, never far from trouble, never accepting the world
he found, never wanting to be his father’s son. He was a far greater hero than
he ever wished us to know.” (p. 11)

Given that I’m already a Kennedyophile, those two sentences nearly
did me in.  
Plus, Matthews has a fine writing style that flows right along,
and you gotta like that.
Also, it was a comfort to me to read the old story* again. I’ve
known the basics of JFK’s life story since way back when I was still playing
with Barbies (yeah, so 4th grade was maybe a little old for dolls,
but hey). Back in those days, once I’d planted the Barbies in their dream
house, I’d head for the presidential and First Lady biographies. And JFK was my
fave back then, too.
So, yeah, I know the bio. Boyhood illnesses and bookishness:
check. PT-109: check. Malaria and back surgeries: check. “Irish Mafia”: check.
So, I gotta say, there wasn’t too much new information here.
But—the thing that sets this book apart is that Matthews incorporates snippets
of interviews and memoirs of those who knew Kennedy well, and that makes it
feel very fresh and somehow current.
So if you’re in the mood for an adoring biography of JFK, this book’s
probably gonna do it for you.

OK. Hymn flashback here. The phrase “the old, old story” kept running through
my head while I was reading this book, which launched my brain’s secret stereo
into this fine number imprinted on me during my younger years. It’s a grand old hymn that really demands
to be belted out with some gusto. In keeping with the 4th grade
Barbie recollections, we’re going to hear it from the Oak Ridge Boys. Hello¸early ’80s!

(But guys? I am not suggesting that we compare JFK to Jesus. That really doesn’t work.)

2 thoughts on “Yup, he’s still my favorite

  1. Well, no, not unless Jesus slept with a mindblowing number of women.

    I'm sorry! I had to say it! I'm a bad person.

    Great review, Unruly. It's a testament to your writing that you can make me consider reading ANY political bio.

    Secondly: Oak Ridge Boys. Awesome. Holla, Elvira!

    Thirdly: How do you feel about RFK?

  2. Citizen — Your first statement: so true!

    Political bios — it's a problem how much I like them. Yet it's pleasing to hear I may be spreading this sickness to others…

    Elvira — I swear every time we (I'm talking the Girl Scout troop) went to the roller rink, they played Elvira. It was the best crap EVER.

    RFK — Someday I'm going to read about him in earnest. I'm puzzled (and intrigued) by his duality — serving as his brother's sumbitch (as LBJ would've said) but then becoming the 1968 candidate who seemed truly to care about human suffering.

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