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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Patriarch

The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy
By David Nasaw

“I cannot impress upon you strongly enough my complete lack of confidence in the entire [British] conduct of this war. I was delighted to see that the president said he was not going to enter the war because to enter this war, imagining for a minute that the English have anything to offer in the line of leadership or productive capacity in industry that could be of the slightest value to us, would be a complete misapprehension.”   With those words the Joe Kennedy reveals for the umpteenth time his misjudgments about Great Britains capacity to resist Hitlers European conquests.  The how and the why of this appeasement is one of the many facets of this brilliant, compelling book

Kennedy is not without many critics and untrue libels. He and his family had more than a few friends and hero worshipers.  I hoped in reading this giganticus of a book to find the truth. David Nasaw  promises his readers to excise anything that could not be confirmed by primary sources and that the Kennedy family allowed unlimited access to family archives.  I believe this to be true. The result is riveting and striking to say the least.

This book covers the first half of the twentieth century from the inside out.  Joe Kennedy was personally involved in virtually all the history of his time. His isolationism was deep and yet commonplace.  A lot of Americans, notably aviator Charles Lindbergh, wanted to keep America out of another European war. But Kennedy’s relentless drive to appease — indeed, reward — tyranny was monomaniacal, preposterous and dangerous. In his view, Hitler was really just another businessman with whom a deal could be struck. Here his business genius impelled him in a direction that would have led to hell.Does this reflect the seeming approach of the present conman in the White House.  Perhaps…..

The best and most interesting part of this book is family because that's what drove this man the most.  In business, in being a father, government official, a Hollywood insider, and man about town.  Yes, I can sum it all up this way-  real historical biography that’s utterly fascinating.

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@Barrie Summy

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hidden Figures

Ignorance is not bliss and Mrs. T and I came out of Mayo Clinic after 2 ½ days  better informed if not blissful.  That took us to our favorite Chinese buffet and a movie.  Again after the movie we felt much better informed about an important part of American history.  The Space Race, though we didn’t feel blissful about it either…..
 Hidden Figures is not a blissful  kind of film: It’s a story of brilliance, but not of ego. It’s a story of struggle and willpower, but not of individual glory. Set in 1960s Virginia, the film centers on three pioneering African American women whose calculations for NASA were integral to several historic space missions, including John Glenn’s successful orbit of the Earth. These women—Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan—were superlative mathematicians and engineers despite starting their careers in segregation-era America and facing discrimination at home, at school, and at work.

 Just the fact that our collective culture highlights virtually zip about this platoon of brilliant, dedicated, overworked, under-appreciated, and until recently, never celebrated African-American women who functioned as NASA’s “living computers” to make it possible for Alan Shepherd, Gus Grissom and John Glenn to become national heroes is as humiliating as it is mind-boggling. This is
especially for those of us who grew up witnessing the birth, trials and eventual triumph of our Gemini and Apollo Space Programs.    Yes, Hidden Figures is well worth seeing…..:)