JFK in the Senate: Pathway to the Presidency

John T. Shaw. Palgrave Macmillan, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-230-34183-8
Relying on archives, memoirs, and interviews with key players, Shaw, a senior congressional correspondent for Market News International, makes a convincing case for the importance of J.F.K.’s Senate years. This time frame is often referred to as simply a “stepping-stone” en route to the presidency, yet Shaw shows that during the nearly eight years that J.F.K. spent in the Senate (1953–1960), he “filled out physically, deepened intellectually, sharpened his writing skills” (it was during this time that J.F.K. published Profiles in Courage, for which he won a Pulitzer, despite claims that the book was primarily the work of his speechwriter, Ted Sorensen), “became a polished and effective speaker, and mastered the nuances of American politics.” Shaw dutifully chronicles the highs and lows of J.F.K.’s senatorship, from his successful work on labor reform to his occasional PR gaffes, as well as the day-to-day minutiae that define a life in politics as much as platforms and policy opinions: overnight trains, a between-gig shave in a bowling alley bathroom, listening to tapes of Winston Churchill’s wartime speeches. Filled with quotes from historians and Camelot contemporaries, Shaw’s account deftly balances anecdote and analysis, making this a valuable read for those interested in both J.F.K. the pol and J.F.K. the person. Photos. Agent: Sam Fleishman, Literary Artists. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/15/2013
Release date: 10/15/2013
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-137-08826-0
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-137-27949-1
Hardcover - 390 pages - 978-1-61173-947-3
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