USC faculty member publishes book on Kennedy

first_imgUSC faculty member Richard Reeves has published a new book highlighting the life and presidency of John F. Kennedy through pictures and stills from the Kennedy library.In Portrait of Camelot: A Thousand Days in the Kennedy White House, Reeves, a senior lecturer at the Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism, shines light on the young president.Daniel Wang | Daily TrojanThis book was different than his previous publications, Reeves said.“Most books are like digging trenches and digging and digging. This book was like a walk on the beach,” he said.Portrait of Camelot was published in time to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s election and features photos by official White House photographer, Cecil Stoughton.Stoughton was the first official White House photographer and was able to take many candid shots of the family, Reeves said.Unlike Reeves’ other works, this book is centered on never-before-seen photos of the Kennedy family taken when they were in the White House.With the help of his publisher, Reeves was able to get access to the entire collection in the Kennedy library. His book includes a DVD of footage and stills that had been preserved by the library.Rather than going into political commentary, most of this book focuses on explaining the photographs and filling the reader in on gaps the photographer was unable to cover.“If my earlier presidential works were complicated oil paintings, this was a watercolor or a sketch,” Reeves said. “The photographs set the context and I can only explain them and hope on occasion to give some insight to them. It’s totally different from anything I’ve already done.”Reeves, who has been part of USC’s faculty for 12 years, has written many books on politics and has published several biographies.According to Geneva Overholser, director of the School of Journalism, Reeves’ reporting has been some of the best.“His biographies of so many presidents — Reagan, Nixon, Kennedy — have made him one of the most important presidential biographers. His political reporting is just extraordinary,” Overholser said.His familiarity with Kennedy came from his research between 1984 and 1993 for the biography President Kennedy: Profile of Power. The book, published in 1993, won Best Non-Fiction Book of 1993 from Time magazine and received the Book of the Year award from Washington Monthly.According to Reeves, Kennedy was one of most influential presidents in U.S. history.“Kennedy continues to survive in the American imagination as a cultural figure as opposed to a political figure. [After World War II], Americans were living a much more cosmopolitan life and didn’t know how to act and then came along a young couple. They really became the role models for a new America. They were role models, in effect, for modern Americans.”Reeves had originally planned to title the book “A Young President,” to emphasize the similarities between Kennedy and President Barack Obama.The publisher disagreed with that title, however. Portrait of Camelot is a reference to the nickname of the Kennedy presidency, Camelot, which has come to mean a period of happiness or greatness.Matt Arnesen, a freshman majoring in business administration, said he plans to read the book.“A lot of the stuff you see about Kennedy and other presidents are all things they want you to see,” Arnesen said. “I think something like this is definitely worth checking out.”last_img

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