A narrative of Kennedy's quest to create a speech that would distill American dreams and empower a new generation, Ask Not is a beautifully detailed account of the inauguration and the weeks preceding it. During a time when America was divided, and its citizens torn by fears of war, John F. Kennedy took office and sought to do more than just reassure the American people. His speech marked the start of a brief, optimistic era. Thurston Clarke's portrait of JFK is balanced, revealing the president at his most dazzlingly charismatic and cunningly pragmatic.
Thurston Clarke's latest book, JFK's Last Hundred Days, is currently available in hardcover.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
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|Age Range:||18 Years|
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Read an Excerpt
The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That Changed America
By Clarke, Thurston
Copyright © 2005
All right reserved.
From Ask Not:
We saw, in black and white, a cloudless sky, sharp light, and air so cold it turned Kennedy's breath into white clouds. When he said, "Let the word go forth from this time and place . . . " it appeared that each word he spoke really was going forth into the exhilarating air that everyone in the nation was breathing that day.
We saw a Currier and Ives tableau, wintry and patriotic. Wind ruffled the festive bunting and the marble façade of the Capitol gleamed. Sunlight bounced off snowbanks and spectators shielded their eyes. Rows of dignitaries filled the platform. The men wore dark overcoats and top hats, outfits for tycoons and statesmen. No one imagined that Rose Kennedy was fuming over her row-end seat, or that Eleanor Roosevelt had refused her place of honor because she could not bear being close to Kennedy's father, or that there was so much bad blood between the dignitaries on this platform that if grudges had weight, the entire contraption would have crashed to the ground.
Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon sat in a semicircle of armchairs. The four men's wives-all former and future First Ladies-sat behind them in the first row on either side of the podium. A faint smile remained frozen on Jackie Kennedy's face, as if she was party to some delicioussecret.
Excerpted from Ask Not
by Clarke, Thurston
Copyright © 2005 by Clarke, Thurston.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
Praise for JFK’s Last Hundred Days (2013):
"A real page-turner… makes for a great and stimulating vacation read… deftly weav[es] together the private, personal, and intimate with the public, the political, and the-then-secret public and political, makes one want to keep reading to find out even more of the scoop."
"[A] compelling portrait of one of the towering figures of 20th-cnetury America."
—Christian Science Monitor
"There will be few, if any, contributions more entertaining and informative than Thurston Clarke's comprehensive chronological telling of his last 100 days in office."
"A fascinating analysis of what was… and what might have been."
"Demonstrates that three often painful years in office had taught Kennedy valuable lessons… Clarke delivers a thoroughly delightful portrait."
"A graceful, bittersweet chronicle… Clarke clearly admires Kennedy but does not ignore his flaws… an absorbing narrative."
"Camelot devotees will relish insider details, from descriptions of an obviously depressed Vice President Johnson 'growling at anyone who disturbed him' to dismissive jabs at Sen. Barry Goldwater taken from the president’s official diary."
"Thurston Clarke has done the seemingly impossible: he has found a revealing new angle of vision on John F. Kennedy that brings the president and his times back to vivid life. This is excellent narrative history."
—Jon Meacham, New York Times bestselling author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
“Clarke makes the drama, the excitement, and the dark side of Camelot seem like only yesterday—indeed, you feel as though you’re right there, in the Kennedy White House, at Hyannis Port, and aboard Air Force One with JFK, today.”
—Strobe Talbott, President, Brookings Institution
"A fascinating, close-up look at the final dramatic months of a young president's life. Thurston Clarke's portrait of Kennedy is masterful in this compelling convergence of history and biography."
—Bob Herbert, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos and former Op-Ed Columnist for the New York Times
"The three-months before President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas were frenetic times: civil rights, Vietnam, Berlin and reelection were on his mind. Thurston Clarke's JFK's Last Hundred Days does a marvelous job of reliving Camelot's fragile promise. Clarke is a masterful storyteller and able researcher. This book sings. Highly recommended."
—Douglas Brinkley, New York Times bestselling author of Cronkite