Promises Kept

Promises Kept : John F.Kennedy's New Frontier

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This is a counter-revisionist examination of John F. Kennedy and his administration, which presents a policy history of major US legislative efforts between 1961 and 1963. Irving Bernstein focuses on administrative and congressional progress under Kennedy in civil rights, education, taxes, unemployment, Medicare and the Peace Corps. He contends that many of Kennedy's campaign promises were well on their way to being enacted by the third year of his first term. The author also declares that many of Kennedy's objectives, later achieved by Lyndon Johnson, would have been brought to fruition by Kennedy himself had he not been assassinated. He supports this argument by tracing Kennedy's selection of advisers and directors on each issue, piecing together his overall decision-making process through original written sources and previously published works, and calculating the probability that the policy would have been successfully more

Product details

  • Paperback | 351 pages
  • 134.62 x 200.66 x 22.86mm | 294.83g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • halftones, bibliography
  • 0195082672
  • 9780195082678

About Irving Bernstein

About the Author Irving Bernstein is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles. His works include The Lean Years, Turbulent Years and A Caring Society--an acclaimed trilogy on the American worker in the era of the Great more

Review Text

Here, Bernstein (A Caring Society, 1985, etc,; Political Science/UCLA) convincingly argues that JFK was a successful President. Emphasizing Kennedy's intellect, energy, and ambition, and stressing the inert nature of the American political system in its transition from a relatively conservative society to the liberal society of the 1960's, Bernstein claims that Kennedy accomplished a great deal as President. He contends that the young leader made significant progress in civil rights, reduction of taxes and stimulation of the economy, aid for education, and the projection of American good-will abroad in the Peace Corps, and that he fought hard for other reforms as well, such as the minimum wage (successfully) and Medicare (unsuccessfully). Kennedy, Bernstein argues, would have been a great President had his tenure not been cut short by assassination. However, the author may be overemphasizing the impact of Kennedy himself on the period. In the field of civil rights, Bernstein's own account shows a cautious Kennedy, pulled along reluctantly by Martin Luther King and anxious not to disrupt his political ties to southern conservatives. Moreover, Bernstein mentions the Bay of Pigs debacle only briefly, does not discuss Kennedy's rapidly growing involvement with the Vietnamese dictator Diem, and fails to note the President's personal ties to organized crime figures. Despite those caveats, Bernstein's conclusion that Kennedy was an important catalyst in this period of reform is ultimately persuasive. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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