Kennedy Tapes Are Published As First Volumes In Miller Center's
Presidential Recordings Project
8, 2001-- Although every president expects to face
a host of problems, John F. Kennedy understood that he was confronting
an unusual set of foreign and domestic crises. Determined to leave
behind a record of that extraordinary era, Kennedy began in July
1962 an unprecedented program of secretly taping White House meetings
and telephone conversations.
perhaps the most reliable record of the Kennedy presidency ever
published, the first of several volumes containing the complete
transcriptions of Kennedyıs recently declassified secret recordings
will be published Oct. 15 by the University of Virginiaıs Miller
Center of Public Affairs and W.W. Norton & Company. The centerıs
Presidential Recordings Project eventually will transcribe, analyze
and publish White House recordings made during the Truman, Eisenhower,
Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations.
PRESIDENTIAL RECORDINGS: John F. Kennedy, Volumes 1-3, The Great
Crises," including a CD-ROM of the actual tape recordings, provides
an unparalleled glimpse into the inner workings of the Kennedy administration
as it grappled with some of its most monumental challenges, including
the Mississippi civil rights crises, the Cuban missile crisis, and
the complexities of the Cold War. The tapes reveal the drama and
complexities of that period, when a fearful America experienced
nuclear danger and racial strife. At the center of the tapes is
Kennedy himself, whose personality, judgment, and leadership style
emerge more clearly than ever before, says Miller Center director
and presidential historian Philip Zelikow.
first three volumes cover the period from July to October 1962,
the first three months after Kennedy installed the taping system.
The transcripts were transcribed, edited and annotated at the Miller
Center and were researched by a team of twelve historians and scholars
in the fields of politics, military history, and foreign affairs.
by Zelikow, Timothy Naftali, director of the centerıs Presidential
Recordings Project, and the noted Harvard historian Ernest May,
the volumes, organized in chronological order, cover a wide range
of issues, from meetings on the nuclear test ban and budget and
tax-cut proposals, to crises in foreign nations and trade policy.
Unlike diaries, private papers, or oral histories, the recordings
reveal not only what Kennedy said during these discussions, but
also what he heard from his advisors, cabinet members, and congressional
leaders, Naftali points out.
first volumes in "The Presidential Recordings" series offer a unique
look at many of the personalities and figures with whom Kennedy
had in-depth discussions, including Dwight Eisenhower, Gen. Douglas
MacArthur, and Harry Truman. With detailed background information
on each conversation, explanatory annotations, and comments from
living participants who were interviewed for the project, "The Presidential
Recordings" is a guide to understanding one of the most critical
periods in Americaıs history and how a president dealt with the
enormous responsibility of seeing the country through it.
the many highlights in the first volumes: a fall in the stock market
leads President Kennedy to consider a short-term tax break; a leak
of highly classified intelligence information to the New York Times
spurs Kennedy to confer with his advisers about how, for the first
time, the White House might use the Central Intelligence Agency
for domestic surveillance of American reporters; Kennedy tapes the
tense hours as the White House dispatches the army to rescue James
Meredith following Meredith's effort to enroll at the University
of Mississippi; and, the secret discussions during the Cuban missile
Great Crisesı is a treasure trove of new insight and information
on three of the most promising and dangerous months in American
history," said historian Michael Beschloss, a member of the projectıs
advisory board. "These volumes will intrigue the general reader
and keep historians working hard for a long time as we assess and
reassess John Kennedy's presidency."
Contact: Margaret Edwards, (434) 924-7889