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John F. Kennedy is lionized by liberals. He inspired Bill Clinton to go into politics and Lyndon B. Johnson to push for landmark civil rights laws. His champions insist he would have done great liberal things had he not been killed by Lee Harvey Oswald.

But what if we have completely misunderstood him? What if we judge him by the lengthy record of his actual political career? His two great causes were anticommunism and economic growth. His tax cuts, his domestic-spending restraint, his military buildup, his emphasis on free trade and a strong dollar, and his foreign policy all make him, by the standards of both his time and our own, a conservative. Ira Stoll convincingly argues that JFK had more in common with Ronald Reagan than with LBJ. Not every Republican is a true heir to Kennedy, but hardly any Democrats deserve that mantle.

JFK, Conservative is sure to appeal to conservative readers—and will force liberals to reconsider one of their icons.

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198815

Quotes & Awards

  • “Stoll, the editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com, provides a wonderfully mischievous analysis in JFK, Conservative. Dispensing with the traditional view of Kennedy as liberal icon, Stoll argues that he was, in fact, manifestly conservative in temperament and conviction, and that this conservatism often turned up in his policies…Whether Kennedy, who in June 1963 delivered an arms-control speech at American University, should go down in history as a closet conservative is open to dispute. But Stoll’s lively disputation offers a distinctive contribution to the debate.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “An informative analysis of the ways in which JFK did indeed evince his conservative side—he was very religious, open to a free market unencumbered by governmental interference, and staunchly anti-Communist.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Insightful and well-researched…This volume will appeal to readers seeking an unvarnished appraisal of Kennedy policy making.”

    Library Journal

  • “The author hews closely to Kennedy’s speeches—from freshman Democratic congressman to senator to president—to revise what he perceives is a misrepresentation of the politician’s core beliefs…Stoll makes a solid case by carefully scouring the record. A compelling textual study of how JFK became all things to all people.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book of Fall 2013
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About the Author

Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and the author of Samuel Adams: A Life. From 2002 to 2008 he was vice president and managing editor of the New York Sun. Previously, he served as Washington correspondent and managing editor of the Forward, as North American editor of the Jerusalem Post, and as president of the Harvard Crimson.