Becoming JFK: A Profile in Communication

By Vito N. Silvestri | Go to book overview

Preface

JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY was a man who loved words and the significant accompanying action that helped people. From his life experiences and from his love of history and literature, he understood that eloquence required more than a graceful turn of words, but also, a quest for the deeper meaning of human actions and the values that stir others.

He addressed himself to his times, the mid-century transition of the United States as it assumed the mantle of world leadership during the transition years of the nuclear age. Nearly each day of his public life, he deliberated with colleagues or his staff about information, events, issues, and policies. Each week was marked by formal or informal speaking events to groups, audiences, constituents, or the nation at large. His communication experiences were as equal as his political development in shaping his public persona during his eighteen years of public office.

There were key trademarks characteristic of his speaking: the succinct quotation to reinforce his ideas, the use of antithetical statements to present analysis and choices, his love of parallel structure for clarity, and always, information and facts. By the time he assumed the presidency, these aspects of his speaking had become refined to the level of high stylistic art, helping to make his thoughts memorable and to assume a unique and enduring place in human discourse.

This book provides political and social background contexts and analysis on John F. Kennedy's development as a communicator. As with all speakers, Kennedy was greatly reinforced by the feedback he received from audiences, which in turn, shaped his effectiveness the next time he spoke. As a man in continual growth, John Kennedy enlarged his vision of humankind by serving his nation all his adult life and by communicating the best about us to ourselves.

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