If Kennedy Lived

If Kennedy Lived

The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy : An Alternate History

Book - 2013
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From one of the country's most brilliant political commentators, the national bestselling author of Then Everything Changed , comes an extraordinary, thought-provoking look at John F. Kennedy's presidency - after November 22nd 1963.

In Then Everything Changed , Jeff Greenfield created a 'riveting' ( The New York Times ), 'captivating' (Doris Kearns Goodwin) exploration of three modern political alternate histories. Based on memoirs, histories, oral histories, fresh reporting, and his own deep knowledge of the players, the book looked at the tiny hinges of history - and the extraordinary changes that would have resulted if they had gone another way.

Now Greenfield presents his most compelling narrative of all, about the historical event that has rivited us for fifty years. What if John F. Kennedy had not been killed on that fateful day? What would the 1964 campaign have looked like? Would changes have been made to the ticket? How would a Kennedy second term have approached Vietnam, civil rights, the Cold War? What would Kennedy have had to give up - and what would he have gained? With powerful enemies against him, would his indiscreet private life finally have become public? How would his health issues have affected his presidency? And what small turns of fate in the days and years before Dallas might have kept him from ever reaching the White House in the first place?

As in Then Everything Changed , the answers Greenfield provides, the scenarios he develops, are startlingly realistic, rich in detail, shocking in their projections, but always deeply, remarkably plausible - and a pure delight to read. It is a tour de force of American political history.

Acclaim for Then Everything Changed

'Shrewdly written, often riveting, gripping . . . Thanks to Mr. Greenfield's own familiarity with American politics and a lot of energetic research, he turns these twists of fate into accelerating historical snowballs that rumble through our recent history, altering the social landscape in ways both small and large.' Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

'Not only thoughtful and sophisticated, but marked by the author's enthusiasm. Greenfield is having fun here, and you can feel it on every page. His scenarios are relentlessly grounded in plausibility. This is a book political junkies will adore.' Bryan Burrough, The Washington Post

'Satisfying, entertaining, insightful. The key to Greenfield's success is that he knows his politics and the strengths and weaknesses of leaders. Greenfield's storytelling is compelling and his research superb.' The Miami Herald

'Historians have long been tantalized by the what-ifs of history. In the hands of this tremendously gifted storyteller, Then Everything Changed will captivate the reader every step along the way.' Doris Kearns Goodwin

'You expect intelligence and a devilish sense of humor and a profound knowledge of political history from Jeff Greenfield. But there is a deeper, haunting quality to this book as well. By adding a simple twist of fate, Greenfield brings fresh - and exhilarating - insights to the history of our times.' Joe Klein, columnist, Time

'Jeff Greenfield has taken the 'what-if' game and turned it into something else entirely - a trio of thought-provoking, interesting, and downright clever scenarios that remind us just how much individuals do matter.' Bob Schieffer, moderator, Face the Nation

Publisher: New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, [2013]
ISBN: 9780399166969
Characteristics: xv, 249 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

AEPowers60 Apr 03, 2014

Interesting speculation to be filed under the heading of alternative history. Greenfield's "counterfactuals" are based on deductions arrived at from talking to contemporaries and otherwise solid research.

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Apr 29, 2017

I disagree with rene1951. While this could, at a long stretch, be classified loosely as Sci Fi, this is more an exercise in political/historical speculation using what has actually occurred to discover possibly could have followed. As such, in the afterward, the author gives a combination of his reasoning with a bibliography. Everything prior to Dallas is real, everything afterward is a combination of rearranging historical events/speeches/conversations/etc and speculation. The result is a fascinating look at a timeline that wasn't. A must for alternate history buffs and real history buffs alike.

AEPowers60 Apr 03, 2014

Interesting speculation to be filed under the heading of alternative history. Greenfield's "counterfactuals" are based on deductions arrived at from talking to contemporaries and otherwise solid research.


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