Fifty years after John F. Kennedy's assassination, presidential historian Robert Dallek, whom The New York Times calls "Kennedy's leading biographer," delivers a riveting new portrait of this president and his inner circle of advisors--their rivalries, personality clashes, and political battles.Read more...
Fifty years after John F. Kennedy's assassination, presidential historian Robert Dallek, whom The New York Times calls "Kennedy's leading biographer," delivers a riveting new portrait of this president and his inner circle of advisors--their rivalries, personality clashes, and political battles. In Camelot's Court, Dallek analyzes the brain trust whose contributions to the successes and failures of Kennedy's administration--including the Bay of Pigs, civil rights, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Vietnam--were indelible.
Kennedy purposefully put together a dynamic team of advisors noted for their brilliance and acumen, including Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, and trusted aides Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger. Yet the very traits these men shared also created sharp divisions. Far from being unified, this was an uneasy band of rivals whose ambitions and clashing beliefs ignited fiery internal debates.
Robert Dallek illuminates a president deeply determined to surround himself with the best and the brightest, who often found himself disappointed with their recommendations. The result, Camelot's Court: Inside the Kennedy White House, is a striking portrait of a leader whose wise resistance to pressure and adherence to principle offers a cautionary tale for our own time.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-08-05
- Reviewer: Staff
Non-experts are likely to have a hard time assessing what significant new facts are revealed in this meticulous but well-trod account of J.F.K.’s tenure in the White House. Dallek (An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963) walks the reader through the basics: Joseph Kennedy Sr.’s ambitions; his congressional years; and his years in the White House dealing with the Soviet Union, Vietnam, and Cuba. Kennedy’s relationship with his advisers, dubbed “the best and the brightest” (Robert McNamara, Ted Sorenson, McGeorge Bundy, et al.), has also been thoroughly described elsewhere. The conclusions Dallek reaches are less than profound or original: “The affection for generated by his persona and the tragedy of his assassination have encouraged positive assessments of his leadership.” And despite the book’s length, there are important omissions: Dallek’s discussion of Kennedy’s sexual appetites in the first chapter relies heavily on the 2012 tell-all memoir of intern Mimi Alford, but readers are given no basis against which to assess the reliability of her account. Dallek may well have strong reasons for relying on her, but, inexplicably, he doesn’t tell us what they are. (Oct.)