Nearly 60 years after his death, JFK still holds an outsize place in the American imagination. His years in office were marked by more than his style and elegance. His presidency is a story of a fledgling leader forced to meet unprecedented challenges, and to rise above missteps to lead his nation into a new and hopeful era.
Updegrove only mentions, but does not elaborate on, the presidential distractions posed by Kennedy’s womanizing. Instead, he provides more context on the overarching impact of World War II on the extended Kennedy family ... Updegrove demonstrates an extensive familiarity with extant sources and adds new material from the papers of Kennedy aide/speechwriter Richard Goodwin, provided by Goodwin’s widow ... Updegrove will alleviate, although not quench, general readers’ continual thirst for biographies of JFK.
Stylish yet familiar ... It’s a largely flattering portrait, as Updegrove acknowledges Kennedy’s...'rampant and reckless womaniz[ing],' including an affair with a 19-year-old intern, but prefers to focus on how he gained confidence and perspective while confronting the prospect of nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis ... Though the fast-paced narrative smoothly transitions from one high-stakes matter to the next and reveals just how eventful the abbreviated Kennedy presidency was, Updegrove has few new insights to offer on his subject’s character or motivations ... The result is a brisk and entertaining biography that doesn’t bring much new to the table.