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John F. Kennedy: Character and Camelot

John F. Kennedy first gained national attention at the age of 23. His book Why England Slept, published in 1940, became a best-seller and earned the new Harvard graduate plaudits as a man of learning and thoughtfulness. Kennedy was heard from again in the summer of 1944 when the New York Times carried a front-page story describing his dramatic rescue of 10 men following the destruction of PT-109 by a Japanese destroyer in the South Pacific. Kennedy's friend John Hersey soon published a story about the incident in The New Yorker which was republished in condensed form in the Reader's Digest. Jack Kennedy was instantly a national hero.

In June 1946, Look magazine published a lengthy eulogy of Kennedy in which the young congressional candidate was said to have brains, charm, and courage. After winning the primary in the solidly Democratic Eleventh District of Massachusetts, JFK was applauded by Time magazine for his determination, selflessness, and integrity. Other publications echoed the theme: John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a man of extraordinary character and intelligence.

Kennedy's three terms in the House added little to his reputation. He was not a legislative leader, and his name rarely appeared in major newspapers and magazines. On the whole, Jack's voting record reflected the views of his multimillionaire father, former Ambassador to England, Joseph...

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