The Kennedy Half-Century

The Kennedy Half-Century

The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy

By Larry J. Sabato

Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781620402801, 624pp.

Publication Date: October 15, 2013


John F. Kennedy died almost half a century ago yet because of his extraordinary promise and untimely death, his star still resonates strongly. On the anniversary of his assassination, celebrated political scientist and analyst Larry J. Sabato himself a teenager in the early 1960s and inspired by JFK and his presidency explores the fascinating and powerful influence he has had over five decades on the media, the general public, and especially on each of his nine presidential successors.

A recent Gallup poll gave JFK the highest job approval rating of any of those successors, and millions remain captivated by his one thousand days in the White House. For all of them, and for those who feel he would not be judged so highly if he hadn't died tragically in office, The Kennedy Half-Century will be particularly revealing. Sabato reexamines JFK's assassination using heretofore unseen information to which he has had unique access, then documents the extraordinary effect the assassination has had on Americans of every modern generation through the most extensive survey ever undertaken on the public's view of a historical figure. The full and fascinating results, gathered by the accomplished pollsters Peter Hart and Geoff Garin, paint a compelling portrait of the country a half-century after the epochal killing. Just as significantly, Sabato shows how JFK's presidency has strongly influenced the policies and decisions often in surprising ways of every president since.

Among the hundreds of books devoted to JFK, The Kennedy Half-Century stands apart for its rich insight and original perspective. Anyone who reads it will appreciate in new ways the profound impact JFK's short presidency has had on our national psyche.

About the Author
Larry J. Sabato is the Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, and director of its Center for Politics. He is the author or editor of more than twenty books on American politics and elections.

Praise For The Kennedy Half-Century

In The Kennedy Half-Century,  Larry Sabato not only sheds new light on the assassination, but, and more importantly, masterfully explains the enduring legacy of Kennedy and his 1000 days in office."—John Grisham “Larry Sabato has compiled a mountain of research that is sure to be the go-to reference on the assassination for years to come.  He seems to have examined any and everything connected to Kennedy’s death and brought new insight and understanding to that awful weekend when America lost its innocence.”—Bob Schieffer, CBS News "The Kennedy Half Century is a Master Class in discovering and evaluating John F. Kennedy as a man,a President and a game-changing figure in American life. The cultural change Kennedy brought to the nation is the real and original contribution Larry J. Sabato brings to the never-ending debates about the 35th President." Richard Reeves, author of Portrait of Camelot: A Thousand Days in the Kennedy White House "If you think you know everything about the Kennedy assassination, you haven't read Larry Sabato's book. I urge you to do so!"—Julian Bond "The Kennedy Half-Century is full of new insights and revelations about a President whose tragic death left so many wondering, "What if?" This is a fascinating examination of the policies he put in place and how they influenced the nine Presidents who followed him into the oval office."—Katie Couric    “Ambitious… Sabato is the most prominent political scientist of our age…. a valuable contribution to the literature of the assassination.” –James Rosen, National Review  “In The Kennedy Half Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy, Sabato shows how Kennedy was transformed from a charismatic, if flawed, man into a mythological figure on the scale of Abraham Lincoln. Sabato goes far beyond Kennedy’s presidency to explore how his legacy has affected every president since, particularly Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan. Most important, Sabato relies on “cutting-edge audio technology” to debunk a key finding of a House committee in 1979 that an open microphone on a Dallas police officer’s motorcycle picked up the sound of a fourth shot — suggesting the involvement of a second shooter.” –The Columbus Dispatch

“A timely, well-documented, and measured view of our 35th president.” –Publishers Weekly