Monday, 22 November 2010

Remembering JFK

Forty-seven years ago today John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated.

Last night Andrew Marr had a programme on BBC2 where he rounded on JFK's memory, seemingly blaming him and his team for inventing a new approach to political communication that has polluted politics ever since.

As a student of politics, campaigning and the media there is little doubt that JFK's team - Pierre Salinger and Ted Sorenson particularly - professionalised the way a Presidential candidate, and then the White House, communicated with its target audience. Marr is a better film maker than interviewer but his approach here was lazy and unjustified; JFK's Presidency was far more than a triumph of ad and PR men.

If the various documentaries and films shown over the past days about JFK's, death and Presidency have sparked an interest in you to find out more, read Robert Dallek's excellent and unsurpassed biography, published in 2003. 'An Unfinished Life' provides a complete overview of JFK's life, his achievements and his shortcomings: it is heartily recommended.   

                                                        An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917 - 1963 (Dynasty)

If you ever find yourself in Boston, JFK's hometown, make sure you visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Possibly the finest museum I've ever visited that makes you wonder what might have happened if he had lived.

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