Top Picks: The Words of John F. Kennedy

Avid sportsman, visionary leader, newspaper reporter, war hero, statesman, civil rights activist, Peace Corps founder—and author.

So many books have been written about John F. Kennedy, examining his short, yet remarkable life from a myriad of viewpoints, and no doubt hundreds more will follow. Born May 29, 1917, John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, is one of America’s most celebrated figures and his legacy has not just endured, but amplified in the hundred years since his birth.

With so many viewpoints, theories and evaluations available, the task of discovering the man behind the legacy can be intimidating. So my recommendation is to go straight to the source itself. The opinions, beliefs and values of John Kennedy resonate loud and clear through his books, letters and speeches in the following works that he penned:

The anthology The Letters of John F. Kennedy provides a historical view of the president's life (and heart) through a variety of correspondence between Kennedy and people from all walks of life, including world leaders, ordinary citizens and school children.

Without dispute, President Kennedy's A Nation of Immigrants is as relevant today as it was when it was published in 1964. Part profile of the U.S. immigration history and part blueprint for immigration policy reform, this is a timely must-read.

The bestselling book Profiles in Courage highlights the careers of eight senators whom Kennedy believed demonstrated great courage under significant pressure. It grants Kennedy the distinction of being the only Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. president. He wrote it when he was on leave from Senate duties as he recovered from two near-fatal operations for a severe back injury, perhaps to motivate himself to stay strong.

Lastly, this call to action from Kennedy's 1960 Democratic Convention acceptance speech, aptly referred to as the New Frontier speech, still rings true today.

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