In a wide-ranging interview with Blaze Books in connection with his newest title, JFK, Conservative, Ira Stoll provided his insights on JFK’s political ideology, religiosity, foreign policy views and a whole host of other topics. Below is Part I of our interview, conducted via email. The interview has been slightly edited for clarity.
What inspired you to write this book?
Stoll: I grew up in Massachusetts and went to Harvard, and so it was hard to avoid the Kennedys. When the JFK Presidential Library opened in Boston, I went with my parents, with my high school, with my Boy Scout troop. As I got older, I heard my conservative friends dismissing all Kennedys as a bunch of drinkers and philanderers, and I heard my liberal friends admiring JFK for what I thought were the wrong reasons. So I wrote this book to set both the conservatives and the liberals straight and to restore an accurate picture of Kennedy.
Why should skeptical conservatives read this book?
Stoll: This book is the antidote to the false story put out by liberal Kennedy historians and journalists after the president’s death that Kennedy was a liberal. If you want to understand tax cuts and economic growth and peace through strength, you’ve got to understand Kennedy. Even if you think you don’t like JFK, you should buy and read this book — it may well change your mind. It explains why President Ronald Reagan talked about Kennedy as his inspiration for his tax cuts and military buildup. The only way to correct the distortions put out by the liberal historians in their bestselling JFK books — distortions I point out in my book — is to make this book a bestseller.