JFK’s Presidency: Understanding Camelot and its Legacies

University of Texas

Jeremi Suri holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a professor in the University’s Department of History and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. A popular public lecturer and frequent news commentator, his writings appear in The New York Times, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN.com, The Atlantic, Newsweek, Time, and other media. Professor Suri has received the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas and the Pro Bene Meritis Award for Contributions to the Liberal Arts. Professor Suri hosts the weekly podcast, “This is Democracy,” and is the author and editor of eleven books, including: The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office; Liberty’s Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from the Founders to Obama; and Henry Kissinger and the American Century. His most recent book is entitled: Civil War by Other Means: America’s Long and Unfinished Fight for Democracy.



John F. Kennedy’s short and tragic time in the White House transformed the image and expectations surrounding the modern American presidency. Kennedy brought a new energy, activism, and intelligence to what had been a conservative office in the previous decade. He made the White House a hub for the nation’s “best and brightest,” and promised to open “new frontiers” at home, abroad, and in space. This lecture will examine the image, expectations, and realities of Kennedy’s presidency, with attention to the legacies of his brief time in office. The lecture will also discuss the lessons — positive and negative — from Kennedy’s presidency for a twenty-first century American nation that is deeply divided and uncertain about future leadership.



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