Friday, November 18
Writers: Chris Matthews
Friday, December 2, 7:30 pm
“Chris Matthews takes on a giant of American life – and triumphs.”– Brian Williams, NBC
SPECIAL APPEARANCE – MEET THE AUTHOR
Buy the Kennedy book, meet Chris Matthews
and have your copy personalized at the
Vintage Christmas Pop-up Market at The Music Hall Loft
Friday, December 2, 5:30-6pm
Writers on a New England Stage welcomes Chris Matthews to the stage on Friday, December 2, 2011, to discuss his latest book Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero. The acclaimed host of MSNBC’s Hardball, Kennedy expert, and New York Times bestselling author masterfully presents a full picture of JFK’s life and presidency through interviews and firsthand accounts from people who knew the famous president.
About the book, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero
What was he like? Chris Matthews has devoted years of his life to answering that question about the 35th president himself. Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero is the stirring result. Drawing on his strong connections, Matthews connected with Kennedy’s closest circle of intimates. From prep school classmates and college friends to war buddies and political associates, he gives us an intimate picture of John F. Kennedy’s coming-of-age. It is not the Jack Kennedy you have been led to imagine.
Expect to visit a golden youth and you find, instead, a sick, lonely boy either stuck in the Choate infirmary or being hauled off to a Boston hospital. Expect a young athlete and you discover instead an incessant reader. “History made him what he was,” Jacqueline Kennedy said a week after Jack’s death. “This little boy in bed so much of the time, was reading history. History made him, this lonely sick boy.”
In Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero we learn the source of Jack’s great inaugural call-to-duty: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” At Choate we come across the young rebel challenging the old-school order. In 1940, we meet the second son rejecting his powerful father’s World War II views. Later, we meet the young skipper who saves his crew after PT 109 is chopped in half by a Japanese destroyer. We see him carrying his badly-burned engineer on his back through four miles of Japanese-held waters.
Then comes the political rise to power. We watch the young war hero teach himself the hard art of electioneering. In one episode we see him sneaking into the State House after dark to file his late nominating papers. We see him in his first debate with Richard Nixon – in 1947! We see the future liberal hero as a Cold War firebrand exposing communist influence in the labor movement.
Kennedy’s rise to the presidency shows a different kind of courage. With his brother Bobby at his side, he learns to wage political battle in the backroom, like the successful move to knock off “Onions” Burke as leader of Massachusetts Democrats. We see the harsh tactics the Kennedy brothers employ to win over the country’s governors.
All this presages the tougher fights as president: the harsh lessons of the Bay of Pigs debacle, the fight with Big Steel, the tough battles with southern governors over de-segregation, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. We discover that, had it not been for Kennedy’s exquisite restraint in that last episode, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev intended to direct those Cuban-based nuclear missiles at New York.
In the end we get Jacqueline Kennedy’s view of Jack Kennedy, the man. “That elusive, unforgettable man,” she called him. “All men are a combination of bad and good,” she said just a week after his assassination. “His mother never loved him,” perhaps trying to explain him.
“What I discovered,” Matthews writes, “was an inner-directed self-creation, an adult stirred and confected in the dreams and loneliness of his youth. I found a serious man who was teaching himself the hard discipline of politics up until the last minute of his life. What’s hardest to see clearly, though, is often what hides in plain sight. So much of this man is what he did. His life is marked by events and achievements that speak for themselves. In searching for Jack Kennedy, I found a fighting prince never free from pain, never far from trouble, never accepting the world he found, never wanting to be his father’s son. He was a far greater hero than he ever wished us to know.”
About the author, Chris Matthews
Chris Matthews is the host of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews and The Chris Matthews Show. From an early age, he has been fascinated by journalism and politics, especially the historic rivalry between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. He is well-known as a political talk-show host and as a best-selling author, whose works include Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think, Hardball, and Kennedy and Nixon, a nonfiction work selected by Reader’s Digest as part of its “Today’s Best Nonfiction” collection. Apart from hosting political talk shows and writing books, Matthews has covered multiple international news items in the past, including the opening of the Berlin Wall, the first all-races election in South Africa, and the historic peace referendum in Northern Ireland. The website for Hardball with Chris Matthews and The Chris Matthews Show’s website is www.thechrismatthewsshow.com
Book Clubs and High School Guests of The Music Hall
At each Writers event, The Music Hall hosts local high school students selected by their teachers, who come free of charge to the event and get an opportunity to meet the author. The Music Hall welcomes local book clubs attending on the night to take part in a drawing to be guests at a private backstage book signing/reception with the featured writer. For more information on how to join the Writers on a New England Stage book club list and drawing, email Associate Producer