Ask Not by Thurston Clarke
The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That Changed America

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2013 is the 50th Anniversary of JFK’s assassination.

A narrative of Kennedy's quest to create a speech that would distill American dreams and empower a new generation, Ask Not is a beautifully detailed account of the inauguration and the weeks preceding it. During a time when America was divided, and its citizens torn by fears of war, John F. Kennedy took office and sought to do more than just reassure the American people. His speech marked the start of a brief, optimistic era. Thurston Clarke's portrait of JFK is balanced, revealing the president at his most dazzlingly charismatic and cunningly pragmatic.

Thurston Clarke's latest book, JFK's Last Hundred Days, is currently available in hardcover.

About Thurston Clarke

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Thurston Clarke has written eleven widely acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, including three New York Times Notable Books. His Pearl Harbor Ghosts was the basis of a CBS documentary, and his bestselling Lost Hero, a biography of Raoul Wallenberg, was made into an award-winning NBC miniseries. His articles have appeared in Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and many other publications. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and other awards and lives with his wife and three daughters in upstate New York.
Published December 28, 2010 by Penguin Books. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Volatile Sinatra, impresario of the inaugural gala, enlisted a “bouillabaisse of hoofers, opera stars, vaudeville comedians, Broadway belters, and classical actors.” Pals from the days of PT 109 appeared.

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Publishers Weekly

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One quibble: for all the value of tracking numerous drafts of the inaugural remarks back to JFK's original dictation, handwritten draft and on-the-spot changes from the podium, following all these minuscule revisions sometimes makes for a blizzard of detail only the most devoted Kennedy fan will ...

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Deseret News

The author also argues that both Adlai Stevenson and Gore Vidal made several important but unacknowledged contributions to the address — and that Kennedy made more than 30 extemporaneous changes to the speech while he was reading it.

Sep 12 2004 | Read Full Review of Ask Not: The Inauguration of ...

Bookmarks Magazine

Louis Menand Critical Summary Clarke has two purposes in Ask Not: to examine the Kennedy Inauguration in precise detail and to determine J.F.K.’s role in writing the speech.

Oct 10 2007 | Read Full Review of Ask Not: The Inauguration of ...

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