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History   >   The Presidency of John F. Kennedy, 1961-63

The JFK Debate

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The Presidency of John F. Kennedy, 1961-63

In this course, Professor Mark White (Queen Mary University of London) explores the life and presidency of John F. Kennedy (1917-63). In the first module, we think about the development of Kennedy’s legacy from the mid-1960s to the present day. In the second, we consider his early life and education, before turning in the third to his early political career as a Representative (1947-53) and Senator (1953-60). In the fourth module, we consider his successful campaign for the presidency, before turning in the following three modules to key moments in his presidential career: the Bay of Pigs invasion (1961), the Berlin Crisis (1961) and the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962). In the eighth module, we think about Kennedy’s record on civil rights, while in the ninth we think about his approach to the increasingly volatile situation in Vietnam. In the tenth module, we think about Kennedy’s private life and the extent to which it had an impact of the performance of his public duties as president, before turning in the eleventh and final module to the importance of Kennedy’s image – as a man of culture, a man of the family, and as a sex symbol.

The JFK Debate

In this module, we trace the development of John F. Kennedy’s legacy from the hagiographical accounts of Arthur M. Schlesinger (A Thousand Days, 1965) and Ted Sorensen (Kennedy, 1965) to the later, highly critical accounts of Garry Wills (The Kennedy Imprisonment, 1982), Thomas Reeves (A Question of Character, 1991) and Seymour Hersh (The Dark Side of Camelot, 1997). We end by thinking about the contrast between how historians view Kennedy’s presidency and how it is viewed by the general public.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

White, M. (2019, November 25). The Presidency of John F. Kennedy, 1961-63 - The JFK Debate [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

White, M. "The Presidency of John F. Kennedy, 1961-63 – The JFK Debate." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 25 Nov 2019,