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Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) In July 1962, President John F. Kennedy had an audio recording system installed in the Oval Office & Cabinet Room of the White House.

The purpose of this recording system was, according to the JFK Library, “to preserve an accurate record of Presidential decision making in a highly charged atmosphere of conflicting viewpoints, strategies & tactics.”

A book titled “Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy,” which includes 2 audio CDs, went on sale today.


The book, published by Hyperion, includes a Foreward by Caroline Kennedy.  

The excerpts from 265 hours of original tape recordings were selected by historian Ted Widmer* in conjunction with the JFK Library in Boston.

*Ted Widmer, born in 1963, earned a PhD in history of American civilization at Harvard.  He served as a speech writer & special assistant for national security affairs under President Clinton.  He is director of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.


Tedd Widmer, Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas, Photo by Larry D. Moore, CC BY SA30

The book & CDs are made available in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the installation of the recording system.

After JFK’s death the tapes were kept in the custody of Evelyn Lincoln, the President’s personal secretary, before being transferred to the Kennedy Library.

The book, with CDs, sells for $40.

According to the Hyperion website, “Just as the unique vision of President John F. Kennedy continues to resonate half a century after his stirring speeches & bold policy decisions, the documentary candor of Listening In imparts a vivid, breathtaking immediacy that will significantly expand our understanding of his time in office.”

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