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Book Review: JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917–1956
International Journal  (IF0.836),  Pub Date : 2021-12-03, DOI: 10.1177/00207020211065787
Jack Cunningham

John F. Kennedy remains a vivid presence in the popular imagination almost 60 years after his assassination, yet we have had to wait until now for the first installment of a comprehensive biography, drawing on the rich holdings of the Kennedy Library in Boston, many of them only recently released. The first efforts at biography, by his aides Arthur Schlesinger Jr and Theodore Sorensen, were published within a few years of his death and cast his life in a roseate hue. But a reaction was inevitable, and 25 years later the revisionist tide crested in Thomas C. Reeves’s 1991 A Question of Character, which depicted the thirty-fifth president as a pathological philanderer and monster of narcissism. With this volume, Fredrik Logevall goes beyond the sterile debate between keepers of the flame and debunkers, offering a dispassionate, thoroughly documented account of Kennedy’s ascent to national prominence, set against the background of America’s emergence as a world power and the tumult of the early Cold War.