Jack: A Life Like No Other

ISBN: 0375503633
ISBN 13: 9780375503634
By: Geoffrey Perret

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About this book

Previous biographies of John F. Kennedy have been based almost entirely on newspaper files and personal recollections. Geoffrey Perret's Jack is both the first comprehensive one-volume biography of JFK and the first account of his life based on the extensive and important documentary record that has finally become available, including Kennedy's personal diaries, hundreds of hours of taped conversations from the White House, recently declassified government documents, extensive family correspondence, and crucial interviews sealed for nearly forty years. The result is a gripping, accurate, and ultimately moving portrait of America's most charismatic president.Jack provides much-needed context and perspective on Kennedy's bewilderingly complex personality. It offers an even-handed account of the seamy side of his life - orgies and abortions, health and drug problems - along with valuable insights into JFK's truly idealistic and visionary character.Jack presents a compelling account of the volatile relationship between Kennedy and his wife, including Jackie's attempt to divorce him, move to Hollywood, and become a film star. At the same time Perret explains how, together, they created the Kennedy style.Jack reveals how the restless, innovative Kennedy was able to overturn more than a hundred years of political tradition, forge the modern political campaign, and, once in the White House, modernize the presidency. His success was so complete that all serious presidential candidates since 1960 have sought to compare themselves to JFK, not challenging his legacy but embracing it.Jack is filled, too, with numerous revelations, such as the true story behind the lobotomy of JFK's sister Rosemary. And here, for the first time, is a comprehensive account of Kennedy's numerous and varied ailments from childhood on, including his back problems.Perret describes how JFK got the two most important decisions of his administration right: his handling of the Cuban missile crisis and his stance on civil rights. As to Vietnam, Kennedy did not believe it was worth fighting for, and in the last months of his presidency he began formulating a secret plan for neutralization and withdrawal - if he won the 1964 election. But that, of course, was not to be: Convinced he would die young, Kennedy foresaw that a violent death would claim him. Throughout his brief time in the White House he was haunted by a vision of a man standing at a window, looking down at him, holding a rifle.Jack: A Life Like No Other is a book like no other. Here, at last, John F. Kennedy seems to step off the page in all his vitality, charm, and originality.

Reader's Thoughts


Of all the Kennedy bio's I've read, this ranks as one of the better ones.


A fantastic read that is both compelling and revealing of a man that did much to shape the course of history in this century. Through well written prose and insightful revealing of JFK's personal life we learn about the man as a whole; his greatest qualities, and his worst.


Really three and a half stars. I have read many many biographies of JFK and thought there wasn't anything else to learn. Wrong! The author seems to bring a different, deeper perspective to the book gleaned from among other things JFK's family history and his belief he would not live a long life. I did finish feeling his marriage was pretty much loveless on both sides. And that he was far more conservative than his legend would have us believe.


Fantastic book - complete research, amazing citations, grounded in fact and impossible to put down.

John Kennedy

Well researched, reasonably entertaining, excellent pacing.


Biography of JFK based on & taped conversationsa & personal diaries.


An entertaining read, especially if you like a mix of history and biography. The author kind of glosses over some details or issues surrounding JFK and the book's conclusion is a little truncated, but it is a good read.


I really enjoyed this book. I learned a lot about the Kennedys not just JFK. I learned so much about Jack that I had never suspected. The Cuban issues of his presidency were amazing! I never knew how involved the US military was in this conflict. Also the why of our involvement in Vietnam was very interesting.

Shaka Mitchell

If you have an affinity towards JFK you'll like this book. It is a lighter read than "The Kennedy Men" but still gives a good look into his life.


I liked this biography of JFK. It was very readable and took care to give you the historic background to the many 20th century events that shaped his life and presidency. It didn't ignore the salacious details of his life but didn't dwell on them either. It gave you a better picture of his often precarious health then one would ever imagine looking at him. In the end, I was sad that it appeared that he and Jackie did not have a mature, loving marriage. And that he was killed just when he seemed to be growing into the presidency.

Chris Brown

I found the book very enjoyable and easy to read

Beth Bedee

I felt that the book was well-written and contained many seemingly well-researched facts. But I prefer history that focuses on the person and their relationships with others rather than the events that surround them. I skimmed through some sections in the beginning because they were rather dry and bogged down with tedious facts. The chapters dealing with Kennedy and his immediate family were very interesting. This would be a great book for someone who is very interested in Kennedy's public and foreign policy. A good deal of the book focuses on politics and life in Washington.I'd say JFK and the other players are depicted fairly and accurately. At times, dialogue is presented that gives insight to JFK's sense of humor. I wish there was more of that so I could get a better sense of him as a person. Joe, Rose, and Jackie are sometimes painted in an unfavorable light.This is a more academic biography than others books I've read on the Kennedys. Some read like tabloid tell-alls. This one has footnotes that list many reputable sources, including Kennedy's own writings.I was a little bothered by the last couple of paragraphs that briefly described the assassination. I find it hard to believe that a person, who obviously has devoted a great deal of time researching Kennedy, seems to fully embrace the "magic bullet" theory. Perret even goes on to write that Oswald was "doing this for Cuba." Of course, I understand this was not a book on the assassination conspiracy, but on his life. The book leaves little out of his life. It truly is womb to tomb.

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