A Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963
by: Robert Dallek
I am completely NOT finished with this book yet, as school gets in the way; but I figured I would tell you about Jack vs. Joe.
I cried a little when Joe Kennedy died. This relationship between Joe Jr and his younger brother Jack (JFK) was something that both Jack and Joe Sr struggled with. Joe Sr loved Joe Jr more than any of his other children and it was obvious to the world, as they were very wealthy and well known; Joe sent his son to the best schools and European tours. Jack constantly lived in the shadow of his older brother, always in competition with him. Although Jack was never as good as Joe academically or socially, Jack beat Joe in the rebelliousness and the girls. Even though they spent their childhood and young adult life competing with each other, they often wrote each other- keeping the other up to date and jealous.
Joe (left) & Jack (right)
Jack suffered throughout his childhood with incurable diseases that the doctors could never diagnose. He was sent from hospital to hospital throughout his seventeen years undergoing tests, surgeries and medical jargon. Joe Jr and Sr. made sure that he went to the best hospitals, had the best doctors and often went to Arizona to "relax and recover". The older Joes in Jack's life, one would say sheltered him from living his own life, they even paid off one of Jack's girlfriends to break up with him. (This one particular girlfriend of Jack's, the US government thought she was a Scandinavian spy and it wouldn't look good on the family affairs if a KENNEDY was mixed up in the drama of spies on the brink of WW2.)
Jack was drafted. Joe followed in competition. Jack's ship was severed and he spent seven days on a stranded island saving the rest of his crew. Jack received a lot of publicity overseas and in the US- "Kennedy's Son Saves Lives!" Joe was jealous and in his competitive nature, signed up for a highly dangerous military task, some would argue that this mission was suicidal from the get-go. Joe wouldn't have it, he was going to succeed and he was going to be a hero. Well, needless to say, the mission failed and Joe died.
Lt. Joe Kennedy
His death was devastating for Jack and Joe Sr. About a week later, the Kennedy family suffered another loss when Jack's brother in law was also killed in the war. These deaths hit Jack really hard and it was actually his widowed sister, Kathleen who brought him back on his feet when she stated "Luckily, I am a Kennedy.. I have a very strong feeling that makes a big difference about how to take things....There are lots of years ahead and lots of happiness left in the world though sometimes nowadays that's hard to believe." Jack promised himself that he would make a visible mark on the world.
This is where I end for the night... I say goodnight to Jack and his dreams to make a difference in the world and not let tragedy get him down.