John F. Kennedy died almost half a century ago, yet because of his extraordinary promise and untimely death, his star still resonates strongly. On the anniversary of his assassination, celebrated political scientist and analyst Larry J. Sabato-himself a teenager in the early 1960s and inspired by JFK and his presidency-explores the fascinating and powerful influence he has had over five decades on the media, the general public, and, especially, on each of his nine presidential successors.
The Kennedy Half-Century reexamines JFK's assassination using heretofore unseen information to which he has had unique access, then documents the extraordinary effect the assassination has had on Americans of every modern generation through the most extensive survey ever undertaken on the public's view of a historical figure. The full and fascinating results, gathered by the accomplished pollsters Peter Hart and Geoff Garin, paint a compelling portrait of the country a half-century after the epochal killing. Just as significant, Sabato shows how JFK's presidency has strongly influenced the policies and decisions-often in surprising ways-of every president since.
Among the hundreds of books devoted to JFK, The Kennedy Half-Century stands apart for its rich insight and original perspective. Anyone who reads it will appreciate in new ways the profound impact JFK's short presidency has had on our national psyche.
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About the Author
Larry J. Sabato is the founder and director of the renowned Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. He has appeared on dozens of national television and radio programs, including 60 Minutes, Today, Hardball, and Nightline. He has coanchored the BBC's coverage of U.S. presidential returns and inaugurations, and has authored or edited more than a dozen books on American politics, including the highly praised A More Perfect Constitution-Why the Constitution Must Be Revised: Ideas to Inspire a New Generation. His other books include Feeding Frenzy, about press coverage of politicians; The Rise of Political Consultants; and Barack Obama and the New America. Sabato runs the acclaimed Crystal Ball website, which has the most comprehensive and accurate record of election analysis in the country. In 2001, the University of Virginia gave him its highest honor, the Thomas Jefferson Award. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Birth of a Legacy 1
1 "President Kennedy Died at 1 P.M. Central Standard Time" 6
2 "All the Marbles" 34
3 Victory Without a Mandate 58
4 The Torch Is Passed 74
5 Steel at Home and Abroad 98
6 Europe, Space, and Southeast Asia 118
7 Echoes from Dealey Plaza 132
8 11/22/63: Questions, Answers, Mysteries 160
9 Rounding Up the Usual Suspects: The Assassination's Puzzle Palace 186
10 Examining the Physical Evidence: Old and New Controversies 208
11 Inevitability: The Assassination That Had to Happen 231
12 The Assassination and the Kennedy Legacy 240
13 "Let Us Continue": Lyndon Johnson-Pretender to the Throne 257
14 Crossed Swords: Camelot vs. the Great Society 275
15 "Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming": JFK's Repudiation and Revival 299
16 The Carters and the Kennedys: Democratic Hatfields and McCoys 322
17 Reagan and Kennedy: Opposites Attract 337
18 Clinton Grabs Kennedy's Torch 370
19 G. W. Bush: Back to the Republican Kennedys 390
20 Full Circle: The Twinning of Barack Obama and John Kennedy 395
21 The People's President 406
Conclusion: A Flame Eternal? 419