What Would JFK Do? A Way to Find Out ...

... or at least to learn more

The recent step back from the brink of the Syrian showdown has led to many comparisons, admiring and otherwise, with John F. Kennedy's handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

That is as good reason as any to highlight the appearance of the Atlantic's stand-alone commemorative issue on JFK, on sale at newsstands and in electronic edition now. I had nothing to do with this project and saw it only when it was complete, so I can come right out and say that it is an exceptional and physically beautiful piece of work, which I think will set a high standard for the Kennedy appreciations we are going to see on the 50th anniversary of his death. 

As with our commemorative (and also beautiful, and very popular) Civil War war edition published early last year, this one makes the most of the Atlantic's having been in business during the period we're looking back on. It includes an article Kennedy himself wrote for the magazine as a young Senator; one by Eleanor Roosevelt making a tough realpolitik argument for the Peace Corps as a way to outflank the Soviets; Washington-insider reports on what seemed to be working, and not, for the Kennedy Administration as it was getting going; plus a range of eminent historians: Samuel Eliot Morrison after Kennedy's death, and (on the Cuban Missile Crisis and other topics) Garry Wills, Robert Dallek, James MacGregor Burns, Alan Brinkley, and more. Thomas Mallon with fiction about the assassination, an introduction by Bill Clinton, and ....

... and, the main thing may be the photos. I've seen photos of John Kennedy and his family all my conscious life, but this issue contains quite a few I had never seen before. This is worth checking out. By which I mean, you should buy it.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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