Michael J. Hogan
The Afterlife of John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Cambridge University Press 2017
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in BiographyNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network June 27, 2017 Mark Klobas
As president John F. Kennedy enjoyed a remarkable degree of popularity, and in the decades since his assassination his standing has only grown in the public imagination. In The Afterlife of John Fitzgerald Kennedy: A Biography (Cambridge University Press, 2017), Michael J. Hogan describes how Kennedy came to enjoy such an enduring stature for so many Americans. He traces the origins of this to Kennedy’s efforts as president to create what Hogan terms a “Kennedy brand,” an image of charm, culture, and youthful optimism that appealed to millions of people. In this he was aided by his wife Jacqueline, who as first lady cultivated an aura of style and taste. With her husband’s death she quickly emerged as the foremost protector of his image by staging his funeral in such a way as to link him to his illustrious predecessors Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. This soon proved only the first of a series of memorials and publications generated in tribute to America’s 35th president, much of it supervised or controlled by the Kennedy family and their circle of friends. Their success in managing his public image is evident today in the esteem in which Kennedy continues to be held by so many people, even with the emergence of a more nuanced assessment of his time in office.