In July 1962, in an effort to preserve an accurate record of Presidential decision-making in a highly charged atmosphere of conflicting viewpoints, strategies and tactics, John F. Kennedy installed hidden recording systems in the Oval Office and in the Cabinet Room. The result is a priceless historical archive comprising some 265 hours of taped material. JFK was elected president when Civil Rights tensions were near the boiling point, and Americans feared a nuclear war. Confronted with complex dilemmas necessitating swift and unprecedented action, President Kennedy engaged in intense discussion and debate with his cabinet members and other advisors.
Now, in conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy presidency, the John F. Kennedy Library and historian Ted Widmer have carefully selected the most compelling and important of these remarkable recordings for release, fully restored and re-mastered onto two 75-minute CDs for the first time. Listening In represents a uniquely unscripted, insider account of a president and his cabinet grappling with the day-to-day business of the White House and guiding the nation through a hazardous era of uncertainty.
Accompanied by extensively annotated transcripts of the recordings, and with a foreword by Caroline Kennedy, Listening In delivers the story behind the story in the unguarded words and voices of the decision-makers themselves. Listening In covers watershed events, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Space Race, Vietnam, and the arms race, and offers fascinating glimpses into the intellectual methodology of a circumspect president and his brilliant, eclectic brain trust.
Just as the unique vision of President John F. Kennedy continues to resonate half a century after his stirring speeches and bold policy decisions, the documentary candor of Listening In imparts a vivid, breathtaking immediacy that will significantly expand our understanding of his time in office.
In Kennedy Recordings, History’s Raw Materials
The New York Times – September 2012 (Excerpt)
Though even some of his closest aides did not know at the time, Kennedy recorded more than 260 hours of Oval Office conversations, telephone calls and dictation into his Dictaphone. The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation has culled the highlights into a new book of annotated transcripts and two audio CDs. Some of the audio portions will be available online.
The book, “Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy,” with a foreword by his daughter, Caroline Kennedy, and an introduction by Ted Widmer, a presidential historian at Brown University, offers “the raw material of history,” said Thomas Putnam, the director of the Kennedy Library.
“This is the memoir that President Kennedy never got to write,” Mr. Putnam said.
In a meeting in November 1962, the president bluntly told James Webb, the NASA administrator, that putting a man on the moon was his top priority. Mr. Webb said it was more important to understand the environment of space, prompting Mr. Kennedy to say, “If we get second to the Moon, it’s nice, but it’s like being second anytime.”
Mr. Webb continued to push back, prompting the president to spell it out: “I’m not that interested in space,” he said, only in beating the Russians. [Read the full article...]
‘Listening In’ To JFK’s Secret White House Recordings
NPR Book Review – September 29, 2012 (Excerpt)
In the spring of 1963, as the U.S. was mired in conflicts with Vietnam and Cuba and the Soviet Union, President John F. Kennedy called his old friend David Hackett to express his frustration at the U.S. men’s ice hockey team — and their miserable record overseas.
JFK: Dave, I noticed that in the paper this morning that the Swedish team beat the American hockey team 17-2. Hackett: Yeah, I saw that. JFK: Christ! Who are we sending over there? Girls?
This candid observation — and many more — are among the new trove of secret recordings just released by The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. A new book and CD set called Listening In includes more than 260 hours of transcribed conversations and 2.5 hours of audio recordings from inside the Kennedy White House.
The recordings are selected and set in context by Ted Widmer, director of the John Carter Brown Library, and the book includes an introduction by Caroline Kennedy, the president’s daughter. Kennedy joins NPR’s Scott Simon to discuss what it’s like to listen to these recordings of her father, nearly 50 years after his assassination. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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