Cover image for An unfinished life [John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963]
An unfinished life [John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963]
Dallek, Robert.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Prince Frederick, MD : Recorded Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
30 audio discs (35 hrs.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Subtitle from container.

In 2 containers.


Compact disc.
Added Author:
Format :
Audiobook on CD


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E842 .D355 2003D Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks

On Order



Dutch: World Citizen Edition

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this riveting tour de force, Boston University history professor Dallek (Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973) delivers what will most assuredly become the benchmark JFK biography for this generation. A master of the art of narrative history, Dallek is also the first biographer since Doris Kearns Goodwin to be granted unrestricted access to key Kennedy family papers (most importantly, the Joseph and Rose Kennedy Papers) in the JFK Library. This is a substantial and significant trove to which Dallek brings a refreshingly critical eye. He has also mined many nuggets of key information from the papers of JFK's colleagues, doctors and friends. Thus Dallek has significant new ground to break on a range of fronts including but not limited to Kennedy's health, politics, personal recklessness and love affairs. Dallek's revelations about JFK's health, based on previously unavailable medical files maintained by Kennedy's personal physician, have already received significant publicity from the Atlantic excerpt in December 2002. But here Dallek expands on that information and reveals (for the first time) the full extent of the medical coverup orchestrated by the Kennedy family: a coverup that involved the destruction of key medical records even after JFK was in his grave. On the political front, Dallek uses new inside information from a Kennedy associate to reveal the detailed mechanics (and enormous scope) of the use of Kennedy money to purchase the West Virginia primary in 1960. At the same time, Dallek has new evidence on both Jack's philandering and his recklessness. Example: During the same 1960 campaign on which his father spent millions, JFK risked it all by inviting an underage cheerleader to his hotel room. As is appropriate, close to two-thirds of this biography covers Kennedy's truncated presidency. In one of the book's most important sections, Dallek marshals new evidence that JFK did not view with favor the expansion of the war in Vietnam, and that he most likely would not have sanctioned such an expansion. Throughout the book, Dallek stops short of worshipping his subject. He is a Kennedy admirer, but he never allows this admiration to cloud either his focus or his truth telling. Dallek is to be thanked for providing the thoroughly researched, well-sourced, responsible and readable biography that has for so long been wanting in Kennedy scholarship. Illus. not seen by PW.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Dallek has done here for Kennedy what he did for Lyndon Johnson (Lone Star Rising and Flawed Giant). He has written the most accessible, balanced, and scholarly biography yet of JFK. Given access to more records about Kennedy than any previous biographer, he concludes that the Addison's disease and chronic back pain Kennedy endured most of his life resulted from steroid injections he received for a variety of childhood illnesses. The outstanding feature of the book is that Dallek praises and faults Kennedy without the emotionalism that detracted from many earlier biographies. Kennedy is criticized for his well-documented womanizing and for taking a political instead of a principled stand on civil rights while President because he didn't want to risk losing the considerable support of Southern Democrats. Kennedy, once reelected in 1964, would have removed American troops from Vietnam, suggests the author, a theme also advanced by Howard Jones in Death of a Generation. Dallek acknowledges that this is not the final account of Kennedy; as more documents become available, new interpretations and different conclusions will be forthcoming. For now and the immediate future, it is the Kennedy biography against which others will be measured. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.-Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The availability of new documents, oral histories, and telephone and Oval Office tapes prompted presidential historian Dallek (Boston Univ.) to revisit John F. Kennedy's personal and political life. Dallek's research in medical records demonstrates that Kennedy was sick throughout his life. Beyond back problems and Addison's disease, an adrenal insufficiency, Kennedy suffered from acute gastrointestinal illnesses. Dallek suggests that the medicines doctors administered to the young Kennedy for his colitis and digestive problems may have exacerbated his back problems and Addison's disease. The author also discovered that among President Kennedy's numerous mistresses was a White House intern of college age, but judges that neither Kennedy's health nor his womanizing impaired his presidential performance. Scholars will find, however, little that is new about Kennedy's presidential policies. Dallek's discussions of the Bay of Pigs, Berlin Crisis, nuclear arms race, and Cuban Missile Crisis are pedestrian and ordinary. He offers no new insights into covert interventions in areas such as Brazil and British Guiana. Dallek speculates that, during a second term, Kennedy would have limited US involvement in Vietnam, but President Johnson could reasonably conclude that he was continuing his predecessor's Vietnam policies. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All libraries. S. G. Rabe University of Texas at Dallas