Forty Ways to Look at JFK by Gretchen Rubin

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“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived, and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”
–John F. Kennedy

Statesman and hero, opportunist and fraud. John F. Kennedy’s contradictions have inspired such fascination that the public’s interest in him has never dimmed. Now, with the same striking technique she used in the bestselling Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill, Gretchen Rubin has written an enthralling new work that captures the crucial elements of Kennedy’s story.

Rubin’s “forty ways” approach highlights JFK’s high ideals, trenchant wit, glamorous family, and unforgettable charisma; it also examines his astonishing sexual appetite, his lies to the public, his shrewd manipulation of the press, and his exploitation of imagery. By showing the many sides of JFK–ranked by the public, but not historians, as one of America’s greatest presidents–Rubin invites readers to decide whether Kennedy was a great statesman or a shallow charmer; whether his success was due to his own merits or to his ruthless father; whether he could be both an unfaithful husband and a good man.

Most important, this biography seeks to solve the enduring puzzle about JFK: What made Kennedy Kennedy? What made him such a dazzling, unforgettable figure? How did he become a secular saint and a political movie star? Rubin illuminates Kennedy’s provocative character and explains the source of his enduring magic as not even the most exhaustive JFK studies have managed to do.

Forty Ways to Look at JFK stands out among Kennedy biographies as a splendidly focused assessment of Kennedy’s life, presidency, and myth. It is for both Kennedy fans and anyone fascinated by the impact of his personality on American culture and politics. Crisp, vivid, and brilliantly readable, it is a significant addition to the author’s innovative approach to biography.

About Gretchen Rubin

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Gretchen Rubin is the author of Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill: A Brief Account of a Long Life and Power Money Fame Sex: A User’s Guide.Rubin received her undergraduate and law degrees from Yale and was editor in chief of the Yale Law Journal. She clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court and served as a chief adviser to Federal Communications Commission chairman Reed Hundt. For many years she taught a seminar at Yale Law School and Yale School of Management. She can be reached through her website:
Published October 25, 2005 by Ballantine Books. 400 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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At last his unique qualities were brought to bear on a supreme challenge, and with his unshakable optimism, his heroic vision, and above all, his splendid speeches, Churchill roused the spirit of the British people.” Though her research obviously goes deep, a little of this breeziness goes a long...

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Whether Kennedy, had he lived, would have extricated the country from Vietnam is handled similarly later on, in two speculative, conflicting accounts, both convincing, that make a clear case that there were differences between his public record and his confidences to aides.

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The 1,037 days of Camelot and the life preordained to produce it. What was real, and what wasn't?

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Forty Ways to Look at JFK

Publishers Weekly

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Attempting to find a unique angle of entrée to the enigma of the Kennedy mystique, Rubin breaks the legend down into 40 brief chapters, each a uniquely angled lens through which she examines his life, his achievements and failures, his friendships and betrayals, his courage and cowardice, his inf...

Aug 15 2005 | Read Full Review of Forty Ways to Look at JFK

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