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Biography of John F. Kennedy: 7 Disputed Facts About The President's Life

By    |   Friday, 22 May 2015 03:00 PM

When it comes to the history of President John F. Kennedy, there are facts and there are facts. Numerous biographies have tackled the fine line that sometimes exists between fact and fiction, oftentimes with little success in determining the truth.

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Here are seven events of President Kennedy’s life and death that are disputed to this day:

1. Did he write his books?
Kennedy’s book “Why England Slept” is known to be a redraft of his college thesis on England’s preparedness for World War II – but Eric Alterman wrote in Columbia Journalism Review that the New York Times’ Arthur Krock, a longtime friend of JFK’s father, Joe, “went over it” at the elder Kennedy’s request. 

Likewise, “Profiles in Courage,” which won JFK the Pulitzer Prize in 1957, was long thought to be the work of Kennedy speechwriter Ted Sorensen, something Sorensen denied until shortly before his death, when he admitted to drafting most of the work. But the Weekly Standard reported the work was more involved than that: It was a committee of writers and historians drafting chapters based on Kennedy’s ideas, with Kennedy trying to write one chapter himself and getting “bogged down in minutiae” before turning the writing work over to others.

2. Was he responsible for PT-109 crash?
Kennedy deserves to be considered a hero for rescuing the crew of his PT boat after it was rammed by a Japanese destroyer. But does he bear blame for the collision? His immediate superiors, according to Thomas Fleming in World War II Magazine, called him a poor skipper, and one said he lost the boat because of “poor organization of his crew,” according to The biggest sting came from JFK’s older brother Joe Jr., a bomber pilot, who wrote to him: “What I really want to know is where the h**l were you when the destroyer hove into sight, and what exactly were your moves?” 

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3. Did he actually care about going to the moon?
Kennedy’s credited with setting the United States on course for the moon with his famous “Before this decade is out” speech to Congress. But Vice President Lyndon Johnson was the idea man. Kennedy, as Atlantic Monthly reported, was “not that interested in space” at the start of his term, sought a spectacular victory in response to Russian Yuri Gagarin’s space flight, and he turned to Johnson for advice.

4. Was he married before Jackie?
The story went around for years: Kennedy was married, briefly, to a Florida socialite named Durie Malcolm. Seymour Hersh said in his book, “The Dark Side of Camelot,” that Malcolm and JFK were married in 1947, but the marriage fell apart and the Kennedys had the records destroyed. Malcolm herself denied the marriage all her life.

5. Was he committed to civil rights?
Kennedy was frequently accused of dragging his feet on civil rights, often fearful of alienating Southern leaders, to the point some civil rights fighters said his reasons sounded “more like excuses,” according to John Barnes in “John F. Kennedy on Leadership.” But as foreign crises eased and pressure built up at home, he knew he had to act. And after his unprecedented speech calling for a “color-blind” society, “it was JFK’s portrait, along with Martin Luther King’s, that would eventually grace the walls of millions of black homes and businesses across America,” Barnes said.

6. Did Kennedy steal the 1960 election?
It’s an article of faith for some that Joe Kennedy pulled strings and spent money to make sure JFK defeated Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election. It’s certainly true Nixon said he’d forego a challenge to avoid a “constitutional crisis” but Republican operatives conducted “field checks” of the results anyway. But according to a retrospective article in Slate magazine, the eventual result of the recount actually had Nixon losing electoral votes. As Slate put it, citing researchers: “Whatever fraud existed wasn't substantial enough to alter the election.”

7. Who killed him?
This question is not going to go away anytime soon. Whether it was Lee Harvey Oswald all by himself with his mail-order rifle, mob bosses upset at Robert Kennedy’s crackdown on organized crime (which they supposedly considered a “double cross” after helping to either rig the election, try to assassinate Fidel Castro, or both), or a shadowy conspiracy within the government of those who had been contemplating a false-flag provocation of war with Cuba –conspiracy theories abound.

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When it comes to the history of President John F. Kennedy, there are facts and there are facts.
biography of john f kennedy
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2015-00-22
Friday, 22 May 2015 03:00 PM
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