The book John F. Kennedy and a New Generation is written by David Burner and published by Little Brown, Boston in 1988. David Burner is a Professor in the Department of History in State University of New York. Professor Burner research interest includes social history of US. He is currently working on a project with patty Limerick about colonialist women. His other publications include “A History of Democratic Party (1970), A History of Presidential Elections (2002), Reading from Settlement to reconstruction (1998) and Making Peace with the 60s (1997).
His book A New Generation John F Kennedy is about President John F Kennedy admiration that can be seen throughout the book. Even though critics have mentioned many shortcomings about Kennedy, Burner instead focuses on Kennedy leadership and his accomplishments throughout his life. Burner mentions that Kennedy appealed to various segment of public for his style, looks and accomplishments that formed the basis of his support. For example he won the support of Jews, Asians and Hispanic and other blue-collar democrats giving them a promise of American dream as he himself had immigrant background.
Burner explores the controversies including success and failures of Kennedy life and how it shaped American consciousness. He provides deeper discussion of Kennedy both as an individual and as a leader allowing readers to examine the changes that shaped the American political system during 1950s and 1960s, and how Kennedy created a greater hope for every American. The author mentions several events and incidents from the time and how Kennedy was influential changing the course of history.
For example the Cuban missile crisis tested the leadership of president leadership when Kennedy threatened the use of nuclear arms in the wake of Cuban Mission crisis in 1962. The naval blockade ordered by Kennedy proved successful and the negotiation with Russia ended peacefully. Another incident Burner mentions is the turbulent end of state sponsored racial discrimination, which Kennedy brought to an end by supporting racial integration and civil rights movement. Kennedy was also eager to see US leader of the space race.
It was JFK speech in Rice University in September 1962 where he mentioned, “No nation can expect to be the leader of the other nations. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard”. Kennedy approached Khrushchev for cost sharing the technology. Kennedy approved a huge sum of $22 billion to launch American Space Project and Apollo goal was finally realized when Neil Armstrong became the first American to land on moon. Bruner discuss the charm of Kennedy and his wife who were more popular than pop stars and movie stars.
One main reason was their good looks and charm that was often photographed by magazines and set the changing fashion trend. Kennedy’s even changes the White House environment from a bleak house to lively and house of mirth and joy. They believed that White House should be place of American History, arts and culture. They invited various artists, writers, and scientists including noble laureate which made White House a livelier place. Despite all the good points which burner has mentioned, the book ignores the bed sheet and fashion stories were associated with Kennedy.
Kennedy is well known for his history of extra marital affairs including involvement with Marilyn Monroe do not suit a sitting president. Burner did not talk about these issues, even though it has no thing to do with his professional life, yet such incidents were part of Kennedy should have been discussed. Burner has mentioned on several occasions the influence of Kennedy in the domestic and international affairs including the civil rights; however the view of Burner is more of only glorification of the Kennedy.
Even though Kennedy is the most popular President of the United States; but critics argue that his reputation is overrated. He was young and charming; but he was unable to achieve any thing major in his lifetime. Kennedy popularity is based on optimistic beginnings on various domestic and international issues. Critics mention that the popular Civil Right Act was envisioned by his brother Robert Kennedy and was signed by President Johnson in 1964 that was Kennedy successor. Kennedy did not disclose the severity of his health condition.
He was believed to have Addison disease that is tantamount of failure of professional integrity. He is considered to be the unhealthiest man to sit in the oval office. While other the Addison disease he was also suffering from an extreme backache from childhood added with various kinds of infections. There is also criticism about his domestic politics that Burner has ignored in his book. For example Kennedy tried to appease Southern Democrats by stocking the lower federal bench with segregationists who did not live up to the mark he was advocating.
It is believed that by making attorney general he tried to form a political dynasty that the Founding Father did not advocate. However Vietnam is considered his greatest mistake, where during his time US intervention in Vietnam increased and Kennedy authorized a coup absent the Diem; while dictator general overtook the power which further aggravated the situation in Vietnam.. Even though it was in fact Johnson who made his own mistakes by over involving and bombing the Vietnamese excessively, but the game was started by Kennedy and it was not easy to backup.
The people who supported war become protestor calling the American administration immoral. Even though Kennedy assignation fueled the Vietnam cause as his untimely death became martyrdom, but Vietnam was blunder that cost US a lot in time money and human life. Had Kennedy not intervened in the Vietnam there would have no loss of time, money and American lives in an unethical war that continued for decades without any outcome.
In the case of Cuban Missiles Crisis, it is mentioned that Kennedy went too far and the world was standing at the brink of a nuclear war due Kennedy antagonism. Had the Russian not backed off, there was every possibility of end of the world. For his supporters he his aggressiveness increased US role in international affairs, but for his opponents it was not sane for president to resort to Nuclear weapons as a last choice. Kennedy critics often label him as youthful charmer with little substance especially by conservatives.
And it is often done to minimize his efforts about Civil Rights and international affairs, but the truth is Kennedy was a man of vision. He initiated many new debates in American Society that was unthinkable in his time. Even though most his policies were achieved by his successors; as he was not able to see his vision fulfilled due to his untimely death, the credit still goes to him. Had he not been able to think ahead of time; many things would have been delayed.
For example his plan for landing a man on moon was mega project, which took place ahead of the decade. The landing on moon not only increased US prestige in the world, but it also boosted US military technology and power that continues till today. The Vietnam War was mistake but the same mistake can be seen today in the case of Iraq War. The people who initially supported Iraq War now are chanting against the current administration; there are always opposite views regarding any issue.
Kennedy advocated the Civil Right Movement at a time when country was divided; and there was division among his own members, but he took the stance and even called the Martin Luther Jr wife to show his affiliation for a just cause. Though Johnson signed the bill, but it was Kennedy who took a step ahead in a difficult time for which he is worth praise. The book is good for people who have no knowledge of Kennedy as a President; however Burner has not justified his role as writer by discussing his dark side that could have made Kennedy more of a man rather a mythical figure.
Reference David Burner, (1988). John F. Kennedy and a new generation. Boston: Little, Brown Robert l Bartley, (February 26, 2001). Coolidge deserves more praise. Retrieved July 8, 2006, Web site: http://www. opinionjournal. com/columnists/rbartley/? id=85000640 SUNY SB Department of History -Faculty Page- David Burner. Retrieved July 8, 2006, Web site: www. sunysb. edu/history/faculty Stephen G. Rabe, (2000). John F. Kennedy and Cuba, November 1962 to November 1963. Presidential Studies Quarterly. 30,
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