Ask Not: The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That Changed America

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Macmillan, Sep 15, 2005 - History - 304 pages
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A close-up on one of American history's most magical events, JFK's inaugural week, and the creation of the speech that inspired a generation and brought hope to a nation

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." On the January morning when John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency and stood to speak those words, America was divided, its citizens torn by fears of war. Kennedy's speech-called the finest since Lincoln at Gettysburg and the most memorable of any twentieth-century American politician-did more than reassure: it changed lives, marking the start of a brief, optimistic era of struggle against "tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself."

Ask Not is a beautifully detailed account of the week leading up to the inaugural which stands as one of the most moving spectacles in the history of American politics. At the heart of the narrative is Kennedy's quest to create a speech that would distill American dreams and empower a new generation. Thurston Clarke's portrait of JFK during what intimates called his happiest days is balanced, revealing the President at his most dazzlingly charismatic-and cunningly pragmatic. As the snow covers Washington in a blanket of white, as statesmen and celebrities arrive for candlelit festivities, the perfectionist Kennedy pushes himself to the limit, to find the words that would capture what he most truly believed and which would far outlast his own life. For everyone who seeks to understand the fascination with all things Kennedy, the answer can be found in Ask Not.
 

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User Review  - briandrewz - LibraryThing

An interesting book about the creation of John F. Kennedy's most famous speech: his Inaugural Address. The book opens with the speech itself, and then proceeds to give us an account of the ten days ... Read full review

Ask not: the inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the speech that changed America

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

With its famous call to service, Kennedy's January 20, 1961, inaugural address more likely moved the nation, concludes the author, than affected the change claimed by the book's title. Clarke ... Read full review

Contents

PROLOGUE
1
THE WORDS
15
PALM BEACH
38
PALM BEACH
57
January 17
75
ON BOARD THE CAROLINE
94
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Thurston Clarke has written nine books of fiction and nonfiction, including Pearl Harbor Ghosts and California Fault, a New York Times notable book. His articles have been published in Vanity Fair, Glamour, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in Willsboro, New York, with his wife and three daughters.

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