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Book Review of John F Kennedy a Biography by Michael O'Brien

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Jamie Wilson

Book Review

US History II

3/14/2012

John F. Kennedy: A Biography

By: Michael O'Brien. (New York: St. Martin's, 2005, 971 pp. ISBN: 0-312-28129-3)

Michael O'Brien was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He studied history at the University of Wisconsin- Madison and earned his PhD in History at the University of Notre Dame. He is a retired professor of history at the University of Wisconsin- Fox Valley. He incurred many debts (according to himself) in the ten years it took to research and write this 971 page book about the life and times of our beloved President John F. Kennedy. Did we need another biography about John F. Kennedy? More than likely not but Michael O'Brien is a great storyteller. He keeps you entertained throughout this book. This book is descriptive, narrative and intelligently written in a style that makes it easy for a person to read and enjoy.

John "Jack" F. Kennedy's, one of America's most beloved presidents; his popularity persists despite many years of criticisms by journalist, historians, and many others. Michael O'Brien portrays more of the presidents more personal side by detailing his life from childhood through his presidency. O'Brien shows that "Jack" grew up in the shadow of his older brother Joe Jr. and was always searching for ways to win his father's love and approval. Jack was considered a childish and irresponsible boy. He was always getting into trouble and thought that his good looks, wit and charm could always get him out of the trouble he would get himself into. Academically he didn't do too well; he was good in English and Math but nearly flunked out of Latin. It wasn't that Jack wasn't a smart young man, because he was very smart. In fact he scored 119 on an IQ test placing him in the top 20% of all the students he was in school with. Jack was just more intrigued with mischievous behavior and acting up and fooling around more so than he was interested in sitting down and doing his schoolwork. When Obrien describes Jack on his military PT boats he recounts stories from his fellow squad members and how they felt about how loyal and genuine Jack was towards them and their family members. JFK had problems with his back and while most people would try anything and everything to get out of going in to active military duty during a war Jack did everything and anything he could to get in to the military including using his father's influence with a high ranking military official. Jack was a very loyal and supportive military man. His squad members held him in the highest regards. According to Lieutenant Commander John Harlee, who first met Jack at Northwestern stated "I recall him as a young man of very boyish appearance and great enthusiasm and desire to get into combat.....Many Ivy League graduates came from families which owned sailing craft or cabin cruisers or power boats, and they were familiar with small boars and therefore appeared to be good material for PT boats. Also they had good educations and mental qualifications as well as physical qualifications and there are a lot of people that use political influence to get out of combat, but Jack Kennedy used it to get into combat!" Jack

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