Kennedy's Wars : Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


In his thousand-day presidency, John F. Kennedy led America throuh one of its most difficult and potentially explosive areas.

With the Cold War at its height and the threat of communist advances in Europe and the Third World, Kennedy had the unenviable task of maintaining US solidarity without leading the western world into a nuclear catastrophe.

In 'Kennedy's Wars', noted historian Lawrence Freedman draws on the best of Cold War scholarship and newly released government documents to illuminate Kennedy's approach to war and his efforts for peace.

He recreates insightfully the political and intellectual milieu of the foreign policy establishment during Kennedy's era with vivid profiles of his top advisors - Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, Robert Kennedy - and influential figures such as Dean Acheson and Walt Rostow.

Tracing the evolution of traditional liberalism into the Cold War liberalism of Kennedy's cabinet, Freedman evaluates their responses to the tensions in Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam.

He gives each conflict individual attention, showing how foreign policy decisions came to be defined for each new crisis in the light of those that had gone before. Readers will follow Kennedy as he wrestles with the succession of major conflicts - taking advice, weighing the risks of inadvertently escalating the Cold War into outright military confrontation, exploring diplomatic options, and forming strategic judgements that would eventually prevent a major war during his presidency. 'Kennedy's Wars' offers a dynamic and human portrait of Kennedy under pressure: a political leader shaped by the ideas of his time, conscious of his vulnerability to electoral defeat but also of his nation's vulnerability to nuclear war.

Military and Kennedy enthusiasts will find its balanced consideration of the president's foreign policy and provocative 'what if' scenarios invaluable keys to understanding his accomplishments, failures, and enduring legacy.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 560 pages, 16 halftones
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: History of the Americas
  • ISBN: 9780195152432



Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 1 of 1 reviews.

Review by

Kennedy's Wars: Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam by Lawrence FreedmanJFK was assassinated six years before I was born. I have been fascinated by JFK since I don't know when. One of my interests in JFK was his foreign policy agenda. Kennedy came to power at the height of the Cold War when nuclear armageddon seemed imminent. Freedman tells a story of how JFK and his closest advisers kept the world intact for future generations.Berlin had been a problem for many years for many presidents. Cuba had recently become more of an issue for the United States. Laos and Vietnam were related concerns for the United States in their conflict in Southeast Asia. Freedman uses exiting scholarship and newly released government documents o draw a detailed picture of a very complex puzzle. Every step the US made was carefully scrutinized to ensure they did nor misstep and cause more problems than they already had.This book does get into some heavy details which a general reader might find tiring; a reader with more than a passing fancy would appreciate the finer details included from some of the most important documents to come out of that era. Also including personalities such as McNamara, Rusk, Rostow, Bobby Kennedy, and Acheson, helps the reader understand what Kennedy was faced with in regards to his advisers. I think this information adds so much more to the story. I liked this book because the reader gets wrapped up in the issues of the day and is made to feel like they are part of the situation they are reading about. Freedman does a great job in getting the reader interested in the topic material.Happy Reading,