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John F. Kennedy had an infinitely complicated relationship with his wife. On this occasion, probably in the summer of 1959, Senator Kennedy dictated a letter to his wife full of caustic insights. Here we eavesdrop on the Kennedy as he tells his wife of his visit to his in-laws home in Newport, Rhode Island. (p. 407)

Sometime in the months before Senator John F. Kennedy declared for the presidency of the United States, he sat in his office musing about his life and politics into a Dictaphone. Kennedy talks as a philosopher of politics with a passion for his profession. It is unclear why he taped these reflections. Kennedy dictates his thoughts in almost perfectly rendered prose, even adding punctuation marks. (p. 415)

President Kennedy’s inauguration address on January 20 1961 was one of the greatest in American history, some of its phrases known by most Americans. (pp. 471-473)

President Kennedy had few more onerous duties than having to listening to pontificating high officials who once had held important offices. In August of 1962, Kennedy was listening to General Douglas MacArthur’s dangerous advice when the general’s monologue was interrupted by a cal from Joseph P. Kennedy, the president’s father. Mr. Kennedy could hardly talk and the president did his best to converse with his father and then Ann Gargan, who oversaw his care. (p. 620)

Early on in the Cuban missile crisis, October 16, 1962, President Kennedy wrestles with the dilemma for the first time. Just how much do these missiles in Cuba change the balance of power? And what can he do to get the Russians to remove them. (pp. 631-632)

By October 18, 1962, only three days into the Cuban missile crisis, Bobby Kennedy worried about what would happen if the United States made an unannounced preemptory strike against the missiles in Cuba. (p. 634)

At close to midnight on October 18, 1962, President Kennedy went into the Oval Office to record his audio memo of events at the just completed meeting of his top foreign policy advisors. That meeting had not been secretly tape-recorded—as were almost all the other meetings—and Kennedy made his own personal recollections of what had transpired. Here is Kennedy at his most brilliant and dispassionate. (pp. 636-637)

No one among Kennedy’s aides had the president’s wide-ranging political mind. On October 19, 1962 Kennedy brilliantly outlined the problem that he was faced with. General Curtis LeMay, the air force chief of staff, came close to confronting the president and called for military action. (pp. 637-638)

Once Kennedy and his other advisors left the policy leaders meeting on October 19, 1962, General LeMay and the other military leaders stayed behind. Not realizing they were being secretly recorded, they told what they truly thought about President Kennedy. (pp. 639-640)

Shortly before President Kennedy address the nation on October 22, 1962 to tell them about the immense dangers of the Cuban missile crisis, he met with the top Congressional leaders to tell them. Senator Richard Russell of Georgia advised the president that he should go ahead and go to war. Kennedy had a ready reply. (pp. 645-646)

Usually in the most important presidential addresses, the American people have had some idea what their leader was about to say. In this instance, on October 22, 1962, Americans were learning for the first time that they stood closer to nuclear holocaust than they had ever stood before. (pp. 646-647)

At times there was a boyish bravado about Jack and Robert Kennedy. Here they are talking on the phone about an operation that Cuban exiles had run against a Soviet ship. (p. 673)

When Kennedy went to Berlin in June 1963, he gave one of the greatest addresses of his presidency, celebrating the courage of West Berliners. (pp. 680-681)

In September 1962, the three surviving Kennedy brothers addressed by telephone the veterans of Naval Patron Squadron VB-110, the unit in which their martyred brother Joe had served. It was an emotional moment. (pp. 685-687)

President Kennedy was an inveterate gossip. Here he is gossiping on the phone with Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., one of his aides, about the Profumo sex scandal in Great Britain. (pp. 689-690)

In June 1963 at American University, President Kennedy gave an historic address calling for an end to the mindless arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. (p. 703)

President Kennedy historic address to the nation on civil rights bill in 1963 was written in little more than an hour. (pp. 708-709)

After the assassination of President Diem in November 1963, President Kennedy and his aides met to discuss the murder. It is dialogue worthy of Shakespeare and it was all secretly recorded by Kennedy. (pp. 723-725)

On November 4, 1963 President Kennedy sat alone in the Oval Office recording his recollections of the death of President Diem. In the midst of his sober reflections, his son, John Jr, interrupted him. (pp. 726-728)

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