Libro NA/52 :: Profiles In Courage by JFK*


Profiles In Courage is proof that it’s easier to buy a Pulitzer than write a good book.


Or… maybe it’s proof a good ghostwriter is worth his weight in gold?


Or maybe it’s further proof of The Golden Rule – he who has the gold makes the rules.



I couldn’t finish this book – regardless who wrote it.

Screen shot 2013-02-25 at 10.14.47 PM

The consensus is that JFK did not.


He may have had the idea for the book.

He may have managed the book.

He may have overseen the book.


He may have scribbled a few notes in crayon and passed it onto the guy who was writing it. But JFK didn’t write it, like, you know… an author.


JFK’s idea was to profile several heroic senators in history. Being a freshman senator himself, this was a solid idea. Profiles was published in 1956 to rave reviews. Shortly thereafter Mike Wallace (yep – that Mike Wallace) said, “Jack Kennedy is … the only man in history that I know who won a Pulitzer prize on a book which was ghostwritten for him.


Ole Joe Kennedy knew how to grease the skids in Hollywood and in Bootlegging backrooms – snagging a book award for his son probably took two phone calls. One to Pulitzer HQ and one to his son, “Just smile and wave, Jack. Just smile and wave….


Money talks....

Money talks….


Profiles is a series of meandering, unexciting stories punctuated by a few moments where you think, “Hey… this is interesting. If they stay on this track this could be rather enter–. Doh. Nevermind.


As Profiles dragged on, a single word pushed me over the edge.



It means “bitter, characterized by verbal abuse.”

Synonyms: invective, vitriolic,  abusive.


I don’t have a problem with $3 words like vituperative. I occasionally trot them out myself when I’m feeling goosey.


The problem arises when vituperative is used four times in 25 pages.

C’mon man…. That’s ridiculous.


I don’t blame JFK for this – he didn’t write it.


Vituperative was actually dropped in a fifth time on page 174, but I had bailed on Profiles in Courage about 50 pages earlier… cursing vituperatively under my breath.


Bottom line: Listless book about guys you never heard of (OK – other than John Quincy Adams…) written by a guy whose name isn’t on the cover.


Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente at Red Angle ( He’s reading 52 books this year – or at least he’s trying. This book did not help further the cause.


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LIBRO 52 Challenge YTD

1. Kennedy/Nixon by Chris Matthews

2. Poke the Box by Seth Godin

3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

NA. Buy-In by John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead

4. Education of an Accidental CEO by David Novak

5. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

6. Blood, Brains and Beer by David Ogilvy

7. Lyndon Johnson :: Master of the Senate by Robert Caro

8. 1776 by David McCullough

9. To Sell Is Human by Dan Pink

NA. Profiles In Courage by JFK*

Categories: Libro 52 Challenge

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31 replies

  1. Tried to read this one years ago, I stopped before page 90. Here are some other suggestions:
    Son of the morning star. It’s about Custer and events leading up to little big horn. You learn that government and arrogance are a dangerous combination.
    The Discoverers, threads linking historical events. He also has the creators.
    No easy day by mark Owen
    Any book by Vince Flynn in the Mitch Rapp series. Buckle your seat belt
    When did wild poodles roam the earth and do penguins have knees? Both are entertaining and informative.

    That should be a good start.

    • Thanks for the recommended readings, Jim! Don’t be surprised if you see the line “government and arrogance are a dangerous combination” pop up in a post of mine sometime soon. The Poodles and Penguins titles certainly grabbed my attention. I’ll start there! And if you ever want to drop a guest post on a book… let me know!


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