by Francine Mathews
Read: June 19 – June 26, 2012
Challenge: Eclectic Reader Challenge
Yearly Count: 16
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program
Blurb: It’s the spring of 1939, and the prospect of war in Europe looms large. The United States has no intelligence service. In Washington, D.C., President Franklin Roosevelt may run for an unprecedented third term and needs someone he can trust to find out what the Nazis are up to. His choice: John F. Kenedy.
It’s a surprising selection. At twenty-two, Jack Kennedy is the attractive but unpromising second son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Roosevelt’s ambassador to Britain (and occasional political adversary). When Jack decides to travel through Europe to gather research for his Harvard senior thesis, Roosevelt takes the opportunity to use him as his personal spy. The president’s goal: to stop the flow of German money that has been flooding the United States to buy the 1940 election – an election that Adolf Hitler intends for Roosevelt to lose.
Review: I received a copy of this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer Program.
I was immediatley intrigued by the description of this book when I first saw it on LibraryThing’s website. I am a JFK junkie; anything with John F. Kennedy even remotely mentioned will immediately draw me in. So I was definitely more than thrilled to learn that I had managed to snag a review copy.
I will say that historical fiction is not my usual genre. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, because for the most part I do, it’s just not something that I read a lot of (which is funny, I was a history major in college, so you would think that I woud read more historical fiction just because of that). And while this is historical fiction, I use that term loosely, because when I think of historical fiction, to be completely honest, I think a lot farther back than 1939. But that’s a discussion for another time 🙂
Okay, so on to the nitty gritty about this book. I enjoyed it. I was sucked in immediately, pretty much from the first page. I was very pleased with how Ms. Mathews portrayed JFK. He was a Kennedy – so he was charming, smart, funny, well-traveled, etc. But she also portrayed him as somewhat of a romantic. And she didn’t hide his illnesses either – something that he seemed to work very hard at hiding throughout his public life. I think she was really able to get to the gist of who JFK really was.
The story line was very interesting. I never realized there was no intelligence agency back then. I guess I thought the CIA had been around longer than it obviously has. So I found it quite interesting when the President of the United States recruited his own “spies.” It was also quite eye-opening to realize that Roosevelt was in the precarious situation of not being able to trust certain people around him. That would be extremely hard for the President to have to deal with. And J. Edgar Hoover – well we all know just how difficult he was.
My only complaint with the entire book comes with an issue I had near the end of the book. At this point Jack is hopping from place to place all over Europe. And I had trouble keeping track of where he was and where he was going. It might have had more to do with the fact that I was trying to read and take care of my 4 week old son than the book itself though. 🙂
Overall, I would highly recommend this book. I think that it will appeal to a variety of readers – historical fiction lovers, mystery lovers, spy/intrigue lovers, there’s even some romance. It definitely appealed to my obsession with anything JFK.
Bottom line: Enjoyable read, highly recommendable.