JFK’s Favorite Books

From Mrs. Kennedy, by Barbara Leaming:

Jackie, starved for conversation about books and ideas, was captivated when, early on, Jack gave her two of his favorite books as a way of explaining to her who he really was. None of the young men touted by her mother had ever done anything like that. One of these books was John Buchan’s Pilgrim’s Way (Memory Hold the Door in the U.K.), from which Jack had derived the credo that public life is “the worthiest ambition,” politics “the greatest and the most honorable adventure.” The other was Lord David Cecil’s The Young Melbourne, set in a world of complex and fascinating political men, the Whig aristocrats of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, who moved constantly and determinedly between episodes of high political seriousness and those of intense pleasure.

One thought on “JFK’s Favorite Books

  1. For me, unearthing that JFK’s favorite reads included the Ian Fleming Bond books was both fun and revelatory and set me off on a thrilling reader’s escapade — for those of you who haven’t sampled Bond in the original (as unlike most of the films as, say, Cecil DeMille is to biblical scholarship), you’ve a wild treat in store; Fleming’s Bond is hard, cold, cynical, unforgiving, ruthless — and the consummate professional (with his own agenda); to a young(ish) world leader who, among the hawks of the early 60’s pretending to a tough world stance (invade Cuba, assassinate Castro, face down Kruschev, eliminate Diem, square off against Ho Chi Minh and North Vietnam), Bond was an ideal role model (and Britain’s only real answer to John Wayne). Anyway, the books have been reissued (with 50-ish pulp covers) and are well worth escaping into : “Goldfinger, do you want me to talk?” “No, Mr. Bond, I want you to die.” It doesn’t get any better.

Leave a Comment