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Book cover

JFK Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956 By Fredrik Logevall Random House; Illustrated Edition, 2020, 816 pages, $25.99

Even the most devout JFK aficionado will feel they have read their first biography after completing Logevall’s, “JFK Coming of age in the American Century, 1917-1956. The Pulitzer Prize winner (“Embers of War”) Harvard professor has recounted the life of one of our nation’s most examined personages through a new prism resulting in a fascinating read for history lovers. Perhaps, it is the author’s European background (he is Swedish) which incorporates the global perspective of history that enlightens this tome. His emphasis on Kennedy’s pre-political international exposure supports the position that Kennedy was supremely prepared to become an international leader not merely an American one. Only John Quincy Adams, the author opines, was better educated in the politics of the world before becoming President.

In contrast with other Kennedy biographies which portrayed JFK as a dreamy, disorganized, underachiever, this book emphasizes the young Kennedy’s obvious gifts. An intense curiosity, bookishness, a love of history and English along with intellectual creativity distinguished him. A self-effacing sense of humor, an egalitarian spirit and irreverence made him a natural leader. Kennedy had the privilege of studying in London, and personally witnessed pre-war France, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. These experiences further fed his interest in world politics.

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