Being I was only 3 when JFK was murdered in Dallas, the books that came out immediately afterwards were mostly adulatory accounts. He was a man on a shiny white horse who was going to make the world a better place. He did make a few mistakes, but he learned from them, and got better control of his power, showing he had absolute potential greatness, and was tragically cut down. So that is what I believed.
Then came the revisionism.
And the JFK portrayed in the revisionism was a no good dirty politician, he cheated on his wife, was a crappy president, couldn't do one damn thing right, and got what he deserved in Dallas.
Oh come on, really? Who was telling the truth here? I simply didn't know who to believe.
But Richard Reeves' 1993 biography on the JFK presidency is undoubtedly the most three-dimensional that JFK has ever come off. He is simply a human being - and a complex one. Though JFK's womanizing has been well known for many years, it was this book that told us just how sick JFK really was. I don't mean a slight headache type of sick. I mean some SERIOUS stuff wrong with him - stuff that would have ended his career if known. it is a minute-by-minute account of what he knew and when, showing that he reacted great to some circumstances, and not so good with others. He comes into office with such a "can do" attitude, only to be hit with the reality of just HOW complex the job really is.
It only covers his presidency, so I can't say it's a complete history of the man. But it's as close as anybody is going to get to the real JFK (reportedly - so I don't know if it's true or not - Jackie bought 2 copies of the book for John and Caroline to read). Definitely worth your time.