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Download An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963 Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963, by Robert Dallek Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (2,228 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Robert Dallek Narrator: Richard McGonagle Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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An Unfinished Life describes the birth of the Kennedy dynasty, the complexity of Jack’s early years, and the mixture of adulation and resentment that tangled his relationships with his mother, Rose, and his father, Joseph. Forced into the shadow of his older brother, Joe, Jack struggled to find a place for himself until World War II, when he became a national hero and launched his career. For the first time, Dallek reveals the full story of Kennedy’s wartime actions—and the true details of how Joe was killed, an event that opened the door to Jack’s ascendancy. Here is the gripping story of Jack’s transformation from an awkward speaker into a brilliant politician with irresistible charm. 

An Unfinished Life also reveals that Kennedy was far sicker than we ever knew. While laboring to present an image of robust good health, Kennedy was secretly in and out of hospitals throughout his life, so ill that he was administered last rites on several different occasions. Here is a vivid portrait of a man who, because he knew how close he was to death, lived as much as he could—sometimes hurting others in the process.

Never shying away from Kennedy’s weaknesses, Dallek also brilliantly explores his strengths. The result is a portrait of a bold, brave, human Kennedy, once again a hero.
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Quotes & Awards

  • “One of the most engrossing biographies I have ever read…An Unfinished Life is nothing less than a masterpiece.” 

    David Herbert Donald, New York Times bestselling author of Lincoln

  • “An impressively judicious and balanced account of Kennedy’s life and presidency…An excellent biography.” 

    New York Times

  • “Comprehensive, judicious, evenhanded, original. An Unfinished Life has the sober judgement and nuanced accuracy that make it ring true in all the controversial and tricky parts.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “It’s hard to believe that someone could find anything new to say about John F. Kennedy, but Dallek succeeds in this riveting and well-documented biography.”

    New Yorker

  • “Neither debunking nor further mythologizing, Dallek fashions a balanced but fast-paced tale.”


  • “In this riveting tour de force, Dallek delivers what will most assuredly become the benchmark JFK biography for this generation…Dallek is to be thanked for providing the thoroughly researched, well-sourced, responsible, and readable biography that has for so long been wanting in Kennedy scholarship.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • “This newest biography of JFK is indeed a profile in courage...Richard McGonagle brings the president to life, mimicking the famous accents so well that his renditions of Kennedy speeches compare favorably to Kennedy’s own renderings.”


  • A #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A Library Journal Best Book

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Phillip | 2/19/2014

    " This is not a book for the casual reader -- this is an in-depth book about the Kennedy life and presidency. There is no doubt that this is a well-written book; but it's only for the most serious Kennedy/presidential scholar/historian. I think the greatest revelation I had from reading this was about how serious Kennedy's health problems were throughout his life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Colin | 2/17/2014

    " As lots of the reviewers have pointed out, the really remarkable thing about this book is the medical information Dallek had access to, which reveal the extent of his suffering for the majority of his life. Dallek does a pretty solid job of maintaining a readable biography that doesn't go too far into hero worship, disillusionment, or "what if he had lived?" any more than is necessary. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Melissa | 2/17/2014

    " Glad I read it. It has given me a greater view of history during that time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Judith | 2/14/2014

    " One must wonder what there is that we don't already know about Kennedy. For me, this was an eye opener because I hadn't realized how ill the man was, not just during his presidency, but for his whole life. From early childhood until his death he was plagued like Job with constant pain and a host of diseases and injuries that it is mind-boggling that he was able to function, much less take the highest office in the country. He was in such bad shape that the Navy wouldn't take him until he had his father pull strings to get him in and once there, to get him into real action ( incredible when you consider other politicians pulling strings to stay out of active duty). During most of his life, despite all the family's wealth and connections, they were unable to cure, much less diagnose his illnesses, even though he was treated by the best of the best. They did eventually diagnose Addison's disease and specific back injuries, but he suffered terrible intestinal disorders as well. And yet everyone who met him was so impressed with his vitality, charm, and cheerfulness. He is said to have been a jokester with a great sense of humor and a very happy disposition. I think that the courage he had in dealing with his physical ailments and rising above his pain is truly inspirational. "

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