19 January 2011

Rave Review: Jack's Path of Courage

Thursday 20 January 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy as the 35th president of the United States. Growing up in Boston, I have lived a lifetime within the sphere of the Kennedy family's local influence. And as the daughter of an immigrant who grew up in post-war Italy with her eye on JFK and all that was promising about the USA, I am steeped in Kennedy lore. So, frankly, I am inclined to like this book. The fact that it is well-written and exquisitely illustrated just makes the admiring easy.

I love the decision to have the cover completely free of text. The man on the front is without a doubt the man who inspired a generation of people around the world; he is handsome, charismatic, and looking onwards and upwards. The profile which is presented within the pages of the book is of an individual who grew up loved but challenged by the expectations of his father and constantly in physical pain due to a back injury exacerbated by war-time damage. Kennedy's is a life defined by courage: the courage to compete with an admired older brother, the courage to fill his shoes when necessary, the courage to make mistakes and own up to them. And while his assassination always leads to discussion of a life cut short and potential snuffed, this book highlights how much he did manage to do in a short period of time. His was a life of privilage, but also a life of service.

The images and text combine to introduce to readers a man who was nothing less than remarkable. Illustrator Matt Tavares mentions in a note that he used actual photographs as reference for his illustrations. The photographic influence is evident; many of the illustrations have the intimacy of captured moments, as if someone peeked in and snapped a quick picture. The text by Doreen Rappaport, which incorporates quotes adapted from original sources, is straightforward, reverent, yet honest.

This book is a beautiful tribute to a man who, whatever his detractors might think, will always be looked to as an individual who inspired not just a single nation, but the whole world in a way that no leader has been able to do since. His legacy is far-reaching--the death this week of Sargent Shriver was a link to that legacy.  Legacies are not created by men and women who turn away from life's challenges, but by those who face them head on, and this book shows how John Kennedy spent a lifetime doing just that.

To see more of the artwork, check out this book trailer

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