JFK’s Last Hundred Days: The Transformation of a Man and the Emergence of a Great President (Penguin, 2013)
“Certainly demonstrates that three often painful years in office had taught Kennedy valuable lessons… Clarke delivers a thoroughly delightful portrait.”
A revelatory, minute-by-minute account of JFK’s last hundred days that asks what might have been.
Fifty years after his death, President John F. Kennedy’s legend endures. Noted author and historian Thurston Clarke argues that the heart of that legend is what might have been.
JFK’s Last Hundred Days is a gripping account that weaves together Kennedy’s public and private lives, explains why the grief following his assassination has endured so long, and solves the most tantalizing Kennedy mystery of all—not who killed him but who he was when he was killed, and where he would have led us.
More Reviews of JFK’s Last Hundred Days
“Thurston Clarke has done the seemingly impossible: he has found a revealing new angle of vision on John F. Kennedy that brings the president and his times back to vivid life. This is excellent narrative history.”
—Jon Meacham, New York Times bestselling author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
“Clarke makes the drama, the excitement, and the dark side of Camelot seem like only yesterday—indeed, you feel as though you’re right there, in the Kennedy White House, at Hyannis Port, and aboard Air Force One with JFK, today.”
—Strobe Talbott, President, Brookings Institution
“Certainly demonstrates that three often painful years in office had taught Kennedy valuable lessons… Clarke delivers a thoroughly delightful portrait… few will put it down.”
—Kirkus (starred review)
“The three-months before President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas were frenetic times: civil rights, Vietnam, Berlin and reelection were on his mind. Thurston Clarke’s JFK’s Last Hundred Days does a marvelous job of reliving Camelot’s fragile promise. Clarke is a masterful storyteller and able researcher. This book sings. Highly recommended.”
—Douglas Brinkley, author of Cronkite
“A fascinating close-up look at the final dramatic months of a young president’s life. Thurston Clarke’s portrait of Kennedy is masterful in this compelling convergence of history and biography.”
—Bob Herbert, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos and former Op-Ed Columnist for the New York Times.
“A graceful, bittersweet chronicle of President Kennedy’s final months… Those who remember Kennedy and those too young to do so, will find this an absorbing narrative.”
—Karl Helicher, Library Journal Review
“As we approach [its] 50th anniversary…there will be a slew of books on John F. Kennedy’s death, but the early prize goes to historian Thurston Clarke’s meticulous reconstruction of JFK’s Last Hundred Days. Here we see a president in action, a man maturing and developing as a thinker and executive, and so we are haunted all over again by what might have come next.”
—Jimmy So and Lucas Whittman, “Brainy Beach Reads,” The Daily Beast/Newsweek
“Thurston Clarke takes a fresh look… [a] compelling portrait of one of the towering figures of 20th-century America.”
—The Christian Science Monitor, 10 best books of July
“Clarke has written a real page-turner… deftly weaving together the private, personal, and intimate with the public, the political, and the-then-secret public and political.”
—Harvey J. Kaye, author of Thomas Paine and the Promise of America, in The Daily Beast»
“…There will be few, if any, contributions more entertaining and informative than Thurston Clarke’s comprehensive chronological telling of his last 100 days in office… Now, as Clarke underlines so well, we can still only wonder what might have been.”
—Jurek Martin, Financial Times
“Mr Clarke is a good storyteller, and his account—one of many JFK books timed for the 50th anniversary of the assassination—offers an enjoyable snapshot of the day-to-day workings of the presidency.”
“…A superb piece of writing—richly detailed and, considering that the end is all too well known, surprisingly enthralling.”
—Frank Gannon, Wall Street Journal
“A wonderful new book…”
—Marc Ambinder, The Week
“A gracefully written, fresh look at the oft-told story… Clarke throws light on personal details to bring his subject vibrantly alive.”
—Don Graham, The Dallas Morning News
“Thurston Clarke has written a superb book… We see… a composite portrait of a ‘casually gracious’ man who, despite his flaws, was principally characterised by ‘nobility and sacrifice.’”
—Roger Lewis, The Daily Mail (U.K.)
“All of the upcoming retrospectives will be hard-pressed to match the haunting work of Thurston Clarke… Agree with him or not, Clarke has delivered a compelling history in an interesting manner… That he has done so while writing about the nation’s most glamorized presidency borders on the miraculous.”
—Erik Spanberg, The Christian Science Monitor
Purchase JFK’s Last Hundred Days
About the book
JFK’s Last Hundred Days reexamines the last months of the president’s life to show a man in the midst of great change, finally on the cusp of making good on his extraordinary promise.
Kennedy’s last hundred days began just after the death of two-day-old Patrick Kennedy, and during this time, the president made strides in the Cold War, civil rights, Vietnam, and his personal life. While Jackie was recuperating, the premature infant and his father were flown to Boston for Patrick’s treatment. Kennedy was holding his son’s hand when Patrick died on August 9, 1963. The loss of his son convinced Kennedy to work harder as a husband and father, and there is ample evidence that he suspended his notorious philandering during these last months of his life.
Also in these months Kennedy finally came to view civil rights as a moral as well as a political issue, and after the March on Washington, he appreciated the power of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., for the first time.
Though he is often depicted as a devout cold warrior, Kennedy pushed through his proudest legislative achievement in this period, the Limited Test Ban Treaty. This success, combined with his warming relations with Nikita Khrushchev in the wake of the Cuban missile crisis, led to a détente that British foreign secretary Sir Alec Douglas- Home hailed as the “beginning of the end of the Cold War.”
Throughout his presidency, Kennedy challenged demands from his advisers and the Pentagon to escalate America’s involvement in Vietnam. Kennedy began a reappraisal in the last hundred days that would have led to the withdrawal of all sixteen thousand U.S. military
advisers by 1965.