Camelot’s Court: Inside JFK White House

27 October 2013 |permalink | email article

It is tempting, as Evan Thomas in his review of Robert Dallek’s latest book on JFK notes, that there is nothing really new here. But Dallek, whose “An Unfinished Life (9003),” was the first to expose the severity of the president’s medical condition. The story of how a glamorous but green young president struggled with conflicting and often bad advice while trying to avoid nuclear Armageddon remains a gripping and cautionary tale of the loneliness of command. He surrounded himself with what he called a “ministry of talent,” personified by McGeorge Bundy, the brainy but chilly Harvard dean who became national security adviser. Dallek shows that while well-intentioned, they often served Kennedy badly. In his first months in office Kennedy was bamboozled by the CIA, which persuaded the new president to back a “secret” invasion of Cuba. The Bay of Pigs was a fiasco. After the defeat, Jackie Kennedy recalled her husband crying in the privacy of his bedroom. “He put his head in his hands and sort of weep,” she said, according to Dallek’s recounting.

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