The Afterlife of John Fitzgerald Kennedy

In his new book, Michael J. Hogan, a leading historian of the American presidency, offers a new perspective on John Fitzgerald Kennedy, as seen not from his life and times but from his afterlife in American memory. The Afterlife of John Fitzgerald Kennedy considers how Kennedy constructed a popular image of himself, in effect, a brand, as he played the part of president on the White House stage. The cultural trauma brought on by his assassination further burnished that image and began the process of transporting Kennedy from history to memory. Hogan shows how Jacqueline Kennedy, as the chief guardian of her husband's memory, devoted herself to embedding the image of the slain president in the collective memory of the nation, evident in the many physical and literary monuments dedicated to his memory. Regardless of critics, most Americans continue to see Kennedy as his wife wanted him remembered: the charming war hero, the loving husband and father, and the peacemaker and progressive leader who inspired confidence and hope in the American people.


'This is a fabulous book on the ‘Kennedy brand,’ and its most meaningful ingredient - JFK himself. Michael J. Hogan is able to show how remembering the former US president in the decades after his death, was not just a matter of political and historical commemoration. Instead, it became an orchestrated effort to create and run a marketable product-person, complete with the continuous repetition of specific characteristics (JFK’s style); the link between product and recognition; principal customer orientation and continuous adaptation of the product to contemporary audiences; and the creation of a distinctive ‘corporate identity’ where assistants and employees (in this case: the Kennedy clan members and officials) were and continue to be required to ‘live’ the brand. There is a history of political person branding to be written and Hogan shows us how and why.'
Jessica Gienow-Hecht - Free University of Berlin
'This thoughtfully conceived, shrewdly argued, and elegantly written book explores JFK's presidency as performance art, analyzes family control of Kennedy's public memory, and shows that the martyred president's legacy still intrigues today.'
W. J. Rorabaugh - University of Washington, Seattle
'Michael J. Hogan has given us a fascinating look not just at the afterlife of President Kennedy, but at how we memorialize - in our evolving histories and unfolding memories - leaders who touch our soul.'
Larry Tye - author of Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon
'Hogan thoughtfully analyzes the enduring 'afterlife' of intellectual and emotional attachment to John and Jaqueline Kennedy: the painstaking crafting of the funeral and commemorative events, the drama of the final resting place, and the controversies over authorized biographies, libraries and museums, and layers of historical analysis.'
Edward T. Linenthal - author of The Unfinished Bombing: Oklahoma City in American Memory
'John and Jacqueline Kennedy’s own carefully constructed 'Kennedy brand' became central to the president’s 'afterlife' in historical memory. This book examines the construction of the Kennedy style, assesses the dramatic symbolic effects of the president’s tragic death, and dissects how the remembrance of Kennedy generated controversies during and after the 1960s. It provides a highly readable account of the struggles over Kennedy’s memory and analyzes the 'heritage industry' that profited from the popular memory of the dead president. A fascinating read - highly recommended for scholars and general readers alike!'
Emily S. Rosenberg - author of A Date Which Will Live: Pearl Harbor in American Memory
'In this imaginative and provocative work, Michael J. Hogan has provided us with a much-needed study of JFK the icon. Kennedy's memory, constructed and reconstructed, remains a powerful cultural and political force to this day.'
Randall B. Woods - University of Arkansas and author of LBJ: Architect of American Ambition
'Michael J. Hogan, one of America's foremost Cold War historians, brilliantly analyzes how our 35th president still burns brightly in the hearts and minds of his countrymen. The Afterlife of John Fitzgerald Kennedy is an eye-opening homage revealing why JFK still carries emotional clout for the public-at-large. Highly recommended!'
Douglas Brinkley - Rice University, Texas and CNN Presidential Historian
'Hogan offers a lively new perspective on both the Kennedy administration and its evolving reputation over time. Full of compelling detail and insightful analysis, the manuscript is a though-provoking and enjoyable read. Few authors have taken on JFK in such an imaginative manner.'
Robert Mason - University of Edinburgh
'Hogan’s book is overwhelmingly well-researched and documented. … the narratives and insights are solid.'
David Hendricks Source: San Antonio Express-News
'Jacqueline Kennedy is also the central figure in Michael J. Hogan’s new study … The most useful portion … is Hogan’s sine-curving of three historical waves that have carried Kennedy’s memory through the past fifty-four years.'
Thomas Mallon Source: The New Yorker
Hogan, Michael J.
Cambridge University Press