An Unfinished Life

  • by Robert Dallek
  • Narrated by Richard McGonagle
  • 9 hrs and 2 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

An Unfinished Life describes the birth of the Kennedy dynasty, the complexity of Jack's early years, and the mixture of adulation and resentment that tangled his relationships with his mother, Rose, and his father, Joseph. Forced into the shadow of his older brother, Joe, Jack struggled to find a place for himself until World War II, when he became a national hero and launched his career. Dallek reveals for the first time the full story of Kennedy's wartime actions and the true details of how Joe was killed, opening the door to Jack's ascendancy. Here is the gripping story of Jack's transformation from an awkward speaker into a brilliant politician with irresistible charm. The audiobook carries us from Jack's work as a senator from Massachusetts, through the fiercely contested 1960 campaign against Nixon, and takes us on to the White House itself. An Unfinished Life also discloses for the very first time that Kennedy was far sicker than we ever knew. While laboring to present an image of robust good health, Kennedy was secretly in and out of hospitals through-out his life, so ill that he was administered last rites on several different occasions. Here is a vivid portrait of a man who, because he knew how close he was to death, lived as much as he could - sometimes hurting others in the process. Never shying away from Kennedy's weaknesses, Dallek also brilliantly explores his strengths. The result is a portrait of a bold, brave, human Kennedy, once again a hero.


What the Critics Say

"Sets the historical record straight...pitch-perfect prose...hands-down the best biography of JFK...a truly remarkable achievement." (Douglas Brinkley, author of The Unfinished Presidency)
"In this riveting tour de force...Dallek delivers what will most assuredly become the benchmark JFK biography for this generation...[He] is to be thanked for providing this thoroughly researched, well-sourced, responsible and readable biography that has for so long been wanting in Kennedy scholarship." (Publishers Weekly)
"...riveting and well-documented biography." (New Yorker)
"Richard McGonagle brings the president to life, mimicking the famous accents so well that his renditions of Kennedy speeches compare favorably to Kennedy's own renderings." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Great Biography - Neccessarily Disappointing

Any biography of JFK is bound to be unsatisfying for the reason that is the title of this great biography, <U>An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963</U>. The abrupt nature of JFK's assassination in 1963 makes the hope and promise of his administration so much more frustrating for its loss.

Dallek provides an exhaustive, if fleeting in the abridgement, review of Kennedy's life, from the family dynamics that preceded his birth to the day he died. He reaffirms all of Kennedy's failings and celebrates is triumphs.

Narration provided by Richard McGonagle is very good, who when speaking lines by Kennedy, does so with the distinctive Massachusetts accent. This was actually annoying to me at first but I must say, grew on me to where I came to expect it as the book went on.

I would very much like the opportunity to hear the unabridged version of this book but doubt if it would provide any more answers to the unanswered questions of why?

Dallek deliberately avoids, to his credit but to my disappointment, any speculation about conspiracy theories with regard to Kennedy's death.

Most amazing to me about this book were the revelations about Kennedy's unbelieveable medical problems and the lengths he and those around him went to conceal them and treat them.

I highly recommend this book. Kennedy, whether you believe he was a great president or not, was a peacemaker and filled the world with hope for better days.
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- Amazon Customer

Dry as a bone

Dallek's overview of the Kennedy legacy is a political, not personal one. He stays away from pretty much everything that made Kennedy a compelling figure, focusing on a cut-and-dried political biography. One wishes he'd linger a bit on Kennedy's persona, charm and wit, but he instead plows full steam ahead with a "just the facts" account of JFK's brief White House tenure.
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- James Ball

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-30-2003
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio