The Kennedy Detail
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holidays at the White House

"The message of Christmas- the message of peace and good will towards all men- has been the guiding star of our endeavors."
President Kennedy, 1962

Holiday Cards to the Kennedys

Every December, the White House received holiday cards from all over the world. Each card was carefully saved by White House social staff, and is now housed at the JFK Library. At left is a card from Princess Grace and Prince Rainier, III, of Monaco.

View more holiday cards sent to the White House

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Kennedy Detail Reader's Review

Simply the Best

Aaron J. Hill "christiansoldier" (Cleveland, OH USA)

This book tops any documentaries, books, or anything else out there dealing with JFK. I felt like after reading this book, not only do I feel as if I have a better knowledge of the assassination, but I also have a better understanding of the role of the Secret Service. I have gained much more respect for them as well. While I was reading this book, I felt as if I was a "fly on the wall". You feel as if you were right there with the Secret Service during every event. That is just how good and well written this book is. It also answered a lot of the questions I had. I am not one to normally reread books that I have already read, but I could easily reread this book at least five times every year. A must have for any history buff or JFK enthusiast.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Kennedy Detail Reader's Review

Different "Kennedy" Book

R. R. Costas Jr. (San Francisco, CA United States)
I really enjoyed this book. I am by no means a conspiracy junkie, but I am aware of the conspiracies out there, read at least one conspiracy book and I am aware of some of the flaws of the Warren Commission Report. However, I almost specifically bought this book because it wasn't meant to explain the assassination away or to pass judgement on the Warren Commission or the conspiracy theories. Only at the end does the author (Blaine) give his opinion on some of the conspiracy theories and what he perceived to be some attacks on the integrity of the Secret Service men that he knew better than anyone who's written a book on the assassination. It didn't seem excessive to me and it was well within his rights.
Neither did I care to find out about JFK's secret dalliances with any number of women. I'm of the school that that is nobody's business but his and his wife and if the book deviated into that topic as well as all the conspiracy theories, it'd be much longer than the 400 pages it turned out to be. You can find tons of other books and blogs about either of those topics elsewhere.

I bought the book because I thought it'd be really interesting to know more about the Secret Service detail in those days and, in particular, to read accounts of the assassination from people who were there in the moment and whose job was to prevent such a thing from happening. I had not been privy to a lot of this information from one source. I thought the book gave a fascinating look at the job of a White House Secret Service Detail, not only safeguarding the President, but also his wife and his children. Compared to what we see today, and I'm sure due in large part due to the Kennedy assassination, it seemed an incredibly simplistic and arcane way to protect the most powerful man in the world. But it was what it was and the Secret Service was not properly funded by Congress at that time.

I think the book also shows to many of us why the Kennedy assassination was such a transforming event for the nation. It does show to those of us who have no recollection of that administration, why the Kennedys gave the country such a good feeling of optimism. They simply seemed to be very decent people all around, imperfections and all, and it showed in the way they treated their Secret Service detail, generating an intense loyalty on the part of the agents. As the agents testify during the book, Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson were not quite as "personal" in their dealings with the detail. Not that they tried any less hard to protect those and every other president, but the genuine affection they had for the Kennedys was palpable.

It was interesting to learn about the agents, but also about the advance work that had to be done in preparation for any presidential trip and how the president also determines how much risk he's willing to take. Kennedy, more than Eisenhower or Johnson, seemed to have an inability to help himself when it came to greeting crowds. This, of course, generated more alarm and concern for the agents but it was the president's prerogative. JFK also preferred to remove the limos' tops pretty much as long as it wasn't raining. To him, it was important for the people to see as much of him as possible in order to generate more voter support. This was also the first time I learned that it was the president who specifically asked (in Tampa) the Secret Service to not have agents riding directly on the back of the limo, for the same purpose of visibility and connection to the crowds. It wasn't some conspirator within the service who made that decision.

The events leading up to and through the assassination were interesting to the extreme. If you know enough about the conspiracy theory there is information here on some of the better known aspects of these theories, but they are mentioned as facts and not with a view to debunk any theories. Examples are the finding of the "magic bullet", the number of shots the agents claim they heard, the car slowing down during the shooting, the positioning of the head wound as reported by agents and doctors versus what others state and the decision to switch caskets and performing the autopsy in Bethesda Naval Hospital instead of in Dallas, as the law dictated.

Particularly heartbreaking is the story of Agent Clint Hill, whose true responsibility was Mrs. Kennedy, but who is the agent we all see in the film of the shooting jumping onto the limo and shoving Mrs. Kennedy back into the car. The poor man, along with the rest of the detail, was traumatize for years and you should watch the 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace that he did in 1975 and which is described in the book. It is impossible not to feel for this man.

Some passages or chapters seemed a little lengthy or unnecessary and that's the reason I didn't give 5 stars. For new information, interesting stories, non-judgmental story-telling and a different perspective on the tragedy, I'd give it the highest ranking.

Friday, December 16, 2011

JFK and the African Student Airlift

"Education is, in truth, the only key to genuine African independence and progress."

— Senator John F. Kennedy, February 12, 1960

At a key point in the 1960 presidential campaign, a dynamic young leader from Kenya named Tom Mboya visited Senator John F. Kennedy. Mboya led a campaign of his own that would eventually bring hundreds of African students to America for higher education, including Barack Obama Sr., President Obama's father. Kennedy's decision to support the effort became an issue in the election and possibly a factor in his narrow victory.

Read More

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Kennedy Detail Reader's Review

Eye opening, Riveting, Better than a Clancy novel!

Okay folks, if you want an insiders scoop on the events leading up to, and just after, November 22nd, 1963- Read this book. There are times that will surprise you, times that bring you to tears, and times that will shock you.

View this from the eyes of the men who were quite literally there. You will see what happens behind the scenes of a protection detail, the toll it takes on the agents & their families, and from a select few-what is was like to lose a President. As they retell the unfolding events, you almost become a member of their team. You see it through their eyes-from the agents on foot near the Presidential limo and the ones riding in the follow-up car. Every detail is etched in their memories, and now laid out in print for you to read. The accompanying photos, and the JFK quotes at the beginning of each chapter allow you to experience that era, whether you lived in that time or not.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Alta-Aurelia students study Kennedy assassination onsite

left to right - Molly McDaniel, James Curbow, Joseph Coll, Kaitlin Brake, chaperone Keila Glienke and Chayce Glienke enjoyed their educational visit to Dallas, Texas in November. They are shown here in front of the former School Book Depository, which now houses a permanent museum on the 6th Floor. Photo contributed.

Dave Curbow has been an educator in the Alta (now Alta-Aurelia) High School for several years now, teaching primarily English and Creative Writing, but he also teaches a cIass called Critical Thinking - which is definitely not a class from the "old days," when you and I were in school.

The Critical Thinking class encourages its students to do just that - to seriously THINK about subjects, looking at them from all angles and points of view and making informed choices on what to believe.

One of the subjects in the class is the November 22,1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Curbow says he uses the Kennedy assassination as a class topic because of the distinct positions that have developed between those who believe it was the act of Lee Harvey Oswald alone and those who believe it was a conspiracy. And because there is so much written on it,Curbow says, the information can be easily accessed by the students.

Read More Here

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Kennedy Detail Reader's Review

The book--THE KENNEDY DETAILI just got done reading the book--THE KENNEDY DETAIL by GERALD BLAINE. I would strongly recommend this book to the forum. It is one of the best books i ever read.

Friday, December 9, 2011

JFK Assassination Logic: Evaluating Conflicting Evidence with John McAdams and Gary Mack

Join Marquette University political scientist Dr. John McAdams Saturday, December 10, 2011, at 2 p.m. as he addresses how to think, reason and understand conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

Dr. McAdams has published more than 20 articles in scholarly journals on subjects as diverse as voting behavior in congressional elections, campaign finance, social class and politics, the death penalty and racial disparity in incarceration. For the past 15 years, he has taught a course on the assassination to upper-division Marquette undergraduates and run the Kennedy Assassination Home Page, a website author and former prosecutor and Vince Bugliosi has called “the premier JFK assassination Web site, clearly superior in depth and scholarship to that of his peers.” Dr. McAdams lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin.

Museum Curator Gary Mack moderates the conversation with Dr. McAdams, which will provide a blueprint for understanding why conspiracy theories arise and how to evaluate their often contradictory claims.

Following the program, Dr. McAdams will sign copies of his new book, JFK Assassination Logic: How to Think about Claims of Conspiracy. Visit for further details.

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The Kennedy Detail Reader's Review

If you only read  1 book about JFK... Make it this one. 

Compelling and well written, this book makes the 'conspiracy theorists' look pitiful and deluded. The fact that the 'conspiracy theory' JFK notion is so huge, seems in many peoples mind to imbue it with credibility. Sorry, but fact's have credibility, emotional pandering to widesread paranoia does not. I wanted to know more about JFK and the assasination, and not have to put up with annoying theories that rely on the weakest evidence, I read this book and was glad I did. Furthermore, upon having read it I feel sure that JFK himself would rather the story be told by his most trusted aides rather than some half baked 'author' trying to make a name for himself in history in rather the same way as Oswald himself was. The fact Clint Hill, Mrs Kennedys trusted agent, put his name to this book speaks for itself.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Kennedy White House

Restoring the White House

Mrs. Kennedy soon set about making the White House into a real home for her family. She turned the sun porch on the third floor into a kindergarten school for Caroline and 12 to 15 other children, who came every morning at 9:30. There was also a swimming pool, a swing set, and a tree house on the White House lawn for Caroline and John Jr. White House Blue Room after restoration, 24 January 1963.

Mrs. Kennedy also thought about what the White House represented to its many visitors and to citizens everywhere. She wanted people to have a greater appreciation of the history of America's most famous residence and its past inhabitants. Her first major project as first lady was to restore and preserve the White House. She enlisted the aid of many experts, established a White House Fine Arts Committee, and created the post of White House curator. Gathering outstanding examples of American art and furniture from around the United States (including many items that had belonged to former presidents and their families), she restored all the public rooms in the White House. CBS Television asked Mrs. Kennedy to present a televised tour of the newly restored White House. Eighty million Americans watched the broadcast, and it earned Jacqueline Kennedy an honorary Emmy Award.

A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy - Feb. 14, 1962 (1 & 2 of 6)

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Kennedy Detail Reader's Review

A Dignified Tribute to the Agents Who Served the Kennedys 

A paean to the Secret Service agents who worked with John and Jacqueline Kennedy (and their children), this book provides a unique perspective on the assassination. For those readers who are seeking yet more salacious tales from Camelot this is not the book. For those readers who seek to read yet more conspiracy theories this also is not the book. However, it does provide excellent context about the workings of the Secret Service circa 1963. One of the most astonishing take away points is how the security around the president has grown exponentially since 1963 and, consequently, how remote the president is from the people who have elected him. That is not the purpose of this book, of course, but it is an inescapable conclusion. It is true that this book does not attempt some sort of remote objectivity about the Kennedys or the assassination but read it if you want to understand the world of the Secret Service. I came away with a renewed respect for their awesome duty.