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Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours that Made History Hardcover – Nov 11 2014
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“He may have served for a thousand days but it was two days that made John F. Kennedy's presidency. No one before Andrew Cohen has recognized that, and because of his signal achievement in Two Days in June, no one will be able to write about -- no one will be able to think about -- John Kennedy ever again in quite the same way. Channeling Theodore White and William Manchester, Andrew Cohen has changed the way we regard JFK in Two Days as much as JFK changed the presidency and the world in those two days.”
—David M. Shribman, editor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
“Andrew Cohen calls the two days during which President John F. Kennedy delivered ground-breaking speeches addressing the great post-war threats to America -- racial inequality and nuclear war – ‘his lyrical journey to peace and freedom.’ Cohen's own lyrical account of these days provides an intimate, moving, and revelatory portrait of Kennedy that is superbly detailed and thrillingly narrated.”
—Thurston Clarke, author, JFK’s Last Hundred Days: The Transformation of a Man and the Emergence of a Great President and Ask Not: The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That Changed America
“Using a literary zoom lens, Andrew Cohen zeroes in on forty-eight dramatic hours in John F. Kennedy's presidency to superbly illuminate his leadership in a compelling and original way. It is Kennedy up close and personal, making history with two of his most important speeches -- one carefully planned, the other a brilliant improvisation. Two Days in June nimbly juggles fast-moving presidential challenges at home and abroad, with fascinating new details of the drama unfolding behind the scenes on Air Force One, in the Oval Office, in the private quarters of the White House, and in the most exclusive salon in Georgetown.... Cohen's analysis of the two speeches and their impact, and his assessment of their measure in JFK's presidency is astute and constitutes an entirely original perspective. His research has been prodigious. Even Kennedy devotees and experts will find new tidbits throughout, judiciously placed in the author's seamless and riveting narrative, which is beautifully written and weaves together the consequential and the quotidian, with verve and authority..... At the center of the tale is Cohen's thoughtful portrait of JFK, the restless multi-tasker with the capacious world view, idealist and pragmatic simultaneously, ever alert to the quirks of human nature, his own included. Well beyond the president, the character sketches capture the big personalities (and several smaller ones) with insight and sensitivity. Through the prism of the Joseph Alsop dinner party, Cohen sweeps in crucial themes and personalities, putting the capital's secrets and licentious behavior in perspective, with wonderful fresh observations from Antonia Fraser. The entire book reflects Cohen's original take on mid-June 1963, beginning with his brilliant conceit of following the arc of JFK's flight from Hawaii to Washington to deliver the commencement address at American University. And it ends with his wonderful touch, imagining the two days as depicted by a Renaissance artist, Kennedy in all his roles, tossing ‘flares into the future.’”
—Sally Bedell Smith, author, Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House
Praise for While Canada Slept:
• "A trenchant critique of modern Canadian foreign policy." Time magazine
• "Cohen's contribution is invaluable. A book full of...rich detail, written with passion and engaging prose.... A must read for all of those who wish to understand the roots of Canada's global outlook." Globe and Mail
About the Author
Andrew Cohen is an award-winning journalist and former Washington correspondent whom the New York Times has called "one of Canada's most distinguished authors." A native of Montreal, he attended Choate Rosemary Hall, McGill University, and the University of Cambridge. Among his best-selling books are The Unfinished Canadian: The People We Are; Trudeau's Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Pierre Elliott Trudeau (with JL Granatstein); Extraordinary Canadians: Lester B. Pearson; and While Canada Slept: How We Lost Our Place in the World, a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction. He has written for United Press International, Time, The Globe and Mail, The Financial Post, and The Financial Times of London from Washington, London, Berlin, Toronto and Ottawa. He has won two National Newspaper Awards and three National Magazine Awards. A professor of journalism and international affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa, Cohen writes a nationally syndicated column and appears regularly on radio and television.
Top Customer Reviews
If anyone possessed the "luck of the Irish", it was President Kennedy. In Andrew Cohen's dense, sometimes joyful, sometimes bored, but constantly urbane, breathtakingly energetic book, Two Days In June: John F. Kennedy And The 48 Hours That Made History, Kennedy's serendipitous life is detailed over a two day period in June of 1963, when on successive days, he gave speeches that reformed the United States both nationally and internationally.
Setting the stage for Kennedy's morning speech before American University in Washington, asking for tolerance and respect for Russia, and his national television address the following evening, endorsing civil rights for blacks in America, Andrew Cohen chronicles the time in easily digestible portions. It is an inspired stroke to break the days into morning, afternoon and evening. It encourages the reader to keep up, like the president, that though the journey may be gruelling, it will be over soon.
The pertinent question is, How did he do it? Cohen is so good at writing, and his appetite for exemplary political conduct so insatiable, that the question is answered. In my opinion, it is a combination of talent and luck. Kennedy was a man with conviction of purpose. He had an infallible confidence in himself. Perhaps he felt consigned to a dreadful fate, like the civil rights labourer Medgar Wiley Evers, whose last day alive included uncharacteristic words of love expressed to his wife.Read more ›
The story hinges on two memorable Kennedy speeches - his "Peace" speech at American University on June 10, 1993 (during which Kennedy embraces the humanity of the Soviets and calls for a nuclear test ban treaty) and his nationally televised civil rights address the following evening (during which he calls for Americans to abandon their prejudices and commit to racial equality). In between, Cohen paints an intimate moment-by-moment account of presidential activities, challenges and deliberations based on diaries, personal accounts and secret service records. Every minute is accounted for including diplomatic meetings, a dinner party, gossipy discussions, phone calls and even a mysterious hour when the President's whereabouts cannot be accounted for.
The narrative immerses the reader in the Presidents's hectic schedule as he returns on Air Force One from Hawaii early on June 10, shortly before his commencement address at American University. Later that day, in between meetings and bill signings, the reader is led through nerve-wracking planning sessions with brother Bobby and Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach surrounding the historic enrollment of the first black students at the University of Alabama. With Alabama Governor George Wallace vowing to block the university door, violence is feared, forcing JFK to federalize the Alabama National Guard. Fortunately, the enrolment is accomplished peacefully when Wallace relents.Read more ›
This story is a riveting and beautifully written narrative of two consecutive days in the presidency of John F. Kennedy. The days were June 10 and 11, 1963.
There have been many books written about JFK some say more than 40,000 so why another one? There will always be someone digging deeper who will find new tidbits to bring to light in the life of one of the most iconic American president of modern time. In “Two Days in June” Mr. Cohen brings an original perspective by adding a compelling detailed analysis in an eventful chapter in Kennedy’s tenure: his most important speeches that would change the outcome on two important issues: nuclear arms control and American society’s racism. Later to be referred as the iconic Peace Speech and the Civil Rights Act.
Meticulously researched, this book is heavy in information and details on those two days. It tracks the President’s every move and explores mainly the context of the speeches and how it came to be. The tension leading to the public addresses is deftly captured and in proper historical context. We also have a glimpse into many personalities surrounding the president: most importantly, his brother Robert and his speechwriter Ted Sorensen. The President had a myriad of other issues such as: conflict in Vietnam, equal pay for all, his physical condition, his gossipy social life, daily swimming lesson and afternoon nap just to mention a few. All this information comes from rare sources such as documentary, interviews, diaries and official White House logbooks etc. The book doesn’t miss a beat and goes on and on.
It must have taken the author exhausting time to put all this together but also rewarding to see the end result.
Most recent customer reviews
Until now, I have struggled to make sense of the all-too-brief Kennedy administration of the early sixties. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Ian Gordon Malcomson
Two days in June is an innovative and important examination of John F. Kennedy’s legacy.
Using two pivotal speeches made by Kennedy in the June before his death to frame the... Read more
I was awed by the obvious research and compression of sources in the magnificent TWO DAYS IN JUNE.
As a student in the 60s, and son of the late Kenneth McNaught (... Read more
This is an outstanding read - bravo to Andrew for taking us into the minutiae as a vehicle for the seismic shifts at the time. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Paul I. Moen
Andrew Cohen's book is a must-read for anyone interested in JFK, presidential history, rhetoric and how great speeches -- as great policy decisions -- come to life. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Guillaume Lavoie
This is a well written and researched book. Very difficult to put down as we move through the 2 days in June. One wonders how history would have unfolded had he lived.Published 13 months ago by Maureen Clark
A must read for anyone interested in American history, Kennedy or even leadership. Andrew Cohen takes the reader through two of the most overlooked and important 48 hours in... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Jacob
I found Andy Cohen's TWO DAYS IN JUNE a gripping read. To confess my biases right up-front: I taught Andy English in his junior year of high school and have kept in touch ever... Read morePublished 16 months ago by david webb
As a novelist and speechwriter I was mesmerized by Andrew Cohen's narrative power and the depth of analysis he brings to bear on Kennedy's very full two days in June. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Daniel Goodwin
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