After an initial honeymoon with historians, in recent years John F. Kennedy has been more carefully scrutinized, resulting in a wide variety of assessments of his presidency and his life. Michael O'Brien, who knows as much about Kennedy as any historian now writing, has distilled the findings of his heavily detailed biography of a few years ago into a compact life that touches on all the important issues and incorporates the findings and judgments of major works since the president's death. He offers nuanced interpretations of the influence of Kennedy's parents, his early life, his struggles with health problems, his intellectual development, his heroism in World War II, his House and Senate career, and the paramount moments of his presidency, including the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and his stand on civil rights, tax policy, and other domestic matters.
Michael O'Brien's major biography, John F. Kennedy, based on eleven years of research into letters, diaries, financial papers, medical records, manuscripts, and oral histories, was published in 2005 to wide acclaim. Emeritus professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Fox Valley, he lives in Menasha, Wisconsin.