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By Marc J. Selverstone

A better half to John F. Kennedy provides a entire number of historiographical essays addressing the existence and management of the nation’s thirty fifth president.

  • Features unique contributions from major Kennedy scholars
  • Reassesses  Kennedy, his management, and the period of the recent Frontier
  • Reconsiders proper Kennedy scholarship and issues to new avenues of research
  • Considers the main crises confronted by means of Kennedy, besides family concerns together with women’s matters and civil rights

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Several books on Kennedy emerged in response to the fiftieth anniversary of his death. Thurston Clarke’s JFK’s Last Hundred Days (2013) most fits the scope of this chapter. Primarily through the mining of the JFK oral histories at the Kennedy Library, through Jacqueline Kennedy’s recently published oral history, and through WRITING KENNEDY 27 the opening of additional President Kennedy tapes, Clarke, a freelance historian, wrote an entertaining, detailed, day-by-day account of those final three and a half months, adding to what we know about President Kennedy, albeit not in any significant way.

As I wrote in 2006, even though Kennedy remained a Cold Warrior who sometimes precipitated crises, he was cautious and prudent in the way he handled the major challenges of his presidency. Even in Vietnam, where he made some serious mistakes, that situation would have been less ominous had he lived. Newly available sources, such as the Kennedy tapes, revealed the correctness of his response to the Soviet missiles in Cuba, in light of a much greater danger than we could have envisioned then or even in 1991.

They included his many allergies, which caused related upper respiratory and ear infections; prostatitis, a recurring prostate gland infection, likely sexually induced, that was treated with massive doses of penicillin; hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid affliction; and an elevated cholesterol (as high as 358) in which medication was only occasionally prescribed, perhaps an indication that physicians had failed to appreciate the seriousness of that malady. He also received medication for occasional depression.

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