January 25, 2012
JACK KENNEDY, ELUSIVE HERO: THE TWO JACKS
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 reports on the 2nd chapter of Chris Matthews’ new book, published by Simon & Schuster, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero.
Chris begins Chapter 2 with these words:
“From an early age, there were two Jacks.”
Mr. Matthews goes on to write that Jack #1 chose to present himself to his classmates at Choate as “sunny…full of good humor (&) always ready for fun.”
Later at Harvard, however, Jack #2’s serious side “comes into sharper focus.”
In his 1st year at Harvard in 1936, although Jack weighed just 135 pounds, he went out for football & ran for student office.
JFK joined the Spee Club, one of Harvard’s top clubs, in his sophomore year.
Chris tells us that when Joseph Kennedy, Sr. was appointed Ambassador to the Court of St. James by FDR, his son had the opportunity to enjoy “the continual round of parties & pleasures” of London.
With the rise of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, JFK “began to form….a notion of where Britain’s elected leaders had failed.”
By the time he returned to Harvard, JFK
“seemed a different person.”
JFK chose Appeasement at Munich as the title of his senior thesis. It would be published under the title Why England Slept.
In the work, Jack Kennedy proposes “America be prepared to fight, not repeating Britain’s error.”
Chris tells us that Jack felt the “emotional weight” demanded by war & that his “best loved book was the autobiography of John Buchan.”*
In Buchan’s book, JFK read about Raymond Asquith, an upper class Englishman, whose “brave death on a French battlefield (WWI) stood for all that was fine.”**
“his youth has become eternal. Debonair and brilliant and brave, he is now….immortal…(knowing) not age or weariness or defeat.”***
Chris reminds us that “Jack loved courage (but) hated war” & concludes that that is the view which “will define how he viewed himself.”
*John Buchan was a Scottish novelist who became Baron Tweedsmuiir, Governor General of Canada, 1935 to 1940.
His most acclaimed work as an author is a spy thriller titled “The Thirty Nine Steps”.
John Buchan, 1936
**Asquith died in September 1916 at the age of 37.
***The same was written about JFK upon his death at the age of 46.