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Sour Grapes

In response to:

The Kennedy Scandals from the January 14, 1993 issue

To the Editors:

I wonder if I am alone in being disappointed by your review of JFK: Reckless Youth [NYR, January 14]. The author, I happen to know, spent three years researching and writing the book, plus a further year revising, editing, footnoting and finalizing the 800-page text to make it as accurate and yet readable as possible. Mr. Hamilton’s mission was not to expose surviving Kennedys to ridicule or hurt, but to reinterpret JFK’s life story for a new generation of Americans, many of whom were not even born when President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Within five weeks it sold a quarter of a million copies: no mean feat for the first volume of a multi-volume opus covering only the subject’s first twenty-nine years.

Miss Hardwick was born in 1916. Her weary, rather turgid review reflects none of the above, but, rather, her own autobiographical problems with the Kennedys, ill-expressed and gratuitously snide about the author as a university teacher in America.

The author has, however, a solution that may appeal to Miss Hardwick, and will surely ease her from her Kennedy-torpor. Let her journey to Boston and attend Professor Hamilton’s Masters seminar on “The Life and Times of John F. Kennedy” at the University of Massachusetts. There, over thirteen weeks, Miss Hardwick will participate in a reinvigorating survey of the literature on JFK, gain new insights into the art and difficulties of scholarly biography, as well as practical experience in the business of obtaining access to, and using, primary historical documents at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Finally, Miss Hardwick will be re-taught to write a report in simple, clear prose and to address issues in a lucid, expository manner.

I feel certain that the author of JFK: Reckless Youth will be happy to have Miss Hardwick in his class, and that Miss Hardwick will benefit from Professor Hamilton’s instruction.

Nigel Hamilton
The John W. McCormack Institute of Public Affairs
University of Massachusetts
Boston, Massachusetts

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