Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Capitol Limited: A Story about John Kennedy and Richard Nixon

*This book was sent to me by the author David R. Stokes for an honest review*

Goodreads Summary 
LONG BEFORE THEY famously debated each other during the 1960 presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon debated the merits of the new Taft-Hartley labor law in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, in April 1947. But their minds were clearly on bigger things. As fate would have it, Kennedy and Nixon shared a Pullman compartment on a famous train called The Capitol Limited, the pride of the B&O line, for an overnight trip back to Washington. They stayed awake all night talking about their lives, hopes, and visions for a better world. CAPITOL LIMITED is based on a very true story. Bestselling author David R. Stokes imagines how the conversation might have unfolded that long-ago night. Based on extensive research, and complete with a lengthy and unusual-for-a-novel bibliography, CAPITOL LIMITED gives readers the chance to eavesdrop as two men have an animated conversation about history, world leaders, and the brewing geopolitical issues they would one day face as leaders of the free world. It was the dawn of the Cold War, and these two former Naval officers were developing a vision for the world, one that would be "tempered by a hard and bitter peace." And years later, the political torch would be passed to John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, who represented "a new generation of Americans." They would become America's premier Cold Warriors.
My Thoughts 
I have been an admirer of the Kennedys for awhile now, so when this book about John F. Kennedy and his republican rival was offered to me I couldn't resist.  In truth I didn't know much about the relationship between these two except that Kennedy beat Nixon in the 1960 election. I'm glad this book gave me the opportunity to know more.

This book is a work of fiction. David R. Stokes admits that he cannot be certain what was said between these two men on that Capitol Limited train back in 1947, but with an extensive amount of research he can give a glimpse into what could have occurred.  They probably would have talked about Stalin and Churchill. It's also possible they talked about their time in the Navy, fellow congressmen, and the imminent Cold War. They certainly could have talked about Nixon's wife Pat and his young daughter.

I enjoyed the banter between the two men, but sometimes I felt that Stokes' perception of Kennedy to be a little harsh. He came off as almost childlike at times. There were times when he seemed so excited to be talking to Nixon that he would say just about anything. I don't think that at nearly 30 years old Kennedy would be telling Nixon about troubles with his father.  I respect the man too much to think he would just  open up about what his father has done politically or otherwise.

I thought the beginning of the book was very well done. We read about Nixon leaving Texas only to learn that President Kennedy was assassinated in the same state mere hours later. I truly hope that he grieved that day with the rest of the world.

Although I can see the events of this day happening similarly to what happened in the book, I can also imagine these two men sitting side-by-side and never uttering a word. Read the book and decide for yourself.

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