Jack 1939 by Francine Mathews

2nd July 2012

*Lydia with Riverhead Books sent me this novel in exchange for an honest review.

In 1939, Jack Kennedy is 22, in poor health, and trying to convince his doctors to release him so he can travel through Europe working on his Harvard senior thesis. Yes, war is on the horizon, but Jack is the son of an ambassador and likely to die before he reaches 30 anyway. In the meantime, the United States has no intelligence service, and someone is funneling Nazi money into the United States to prevent President Roosevelt from winning the 1940 election. Using the convenience of Jack’s trip and his status, Roosevelt recruits him as his personal spy, asking Jack to keep an eye on the situation.

My biggest complaint about this book? I so wanted it to be true. Even though there’s a big old tab telling me that Jack 1939 is “A NOVEL,” somehow my brain thought: JACK KENNEDY WAS A SPY. Until I realized it wasn’t true. So yeah, JFK as a spy, cavorting around Europe with women, dodging bullets and a brutish killer? Yes, please.

John F. Kennedy actually was in Europe in 1939, researching for his senior thesis, which would be published in 1940 under the title Why England Slept. He was also extremely ill as a young man, spending extensive amounts of time in medical facilities, his family all elsewhere. These are aspects of the legendary John F. Kennedy I did not know, and this novel is definitely one that you’ll pull out ye olde encyclopedia or ye new iPhone and Google to your heart’s content.

Preorder this book now for your Nook or from Indiebound. Comes out July 5.

  • heidenkind

    Why couldn’t it be true? I insist on it being true. And this book sounds awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I know! Why, why? It really was awesome. Good thing I figured out it was a novel. This would have been a MUCH different review where I may have swooned over the man. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Myelitepetcare

        Halfway through this in a day, and I can’t put it down. So many things I hadn’t realized about Jack Kennedy and his family and their connections to WWII. I don’t want this book to end, yet here I am with half a day of leisure and the book is calling to me … I have a feeling I will be up late into the night to finish. Wow. This should be a movie!

        • Yea! So glad you’re enjoying it. I really did love seeing the Kennedy family brought to light in such a unique way.

  • Http://julzreads.wordpress.com

    Yeah! I just requested this from the Vine! Glad to know it is worthwhile.

    • I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • Admittedly, I’m sort of torn about books like this. I love historical fiction but I like it based in fact. When a book takes too many liberties, I don’t like it as much!

    • And it does take a lot of liberties. Normally I’m annoyed by the too (my brain is dead thinking about one particular one that annoyed me), but this one was too fun. It probably helps that I seriously thought it was nonfic until I had the book in my hands.

  • This sounds like fun. I’m in. Totally putting this on the list.

    • Awesome! It’s a perfect thriller-ish summer read.

  • Ti

    Intriguing to say the least!

  • I want to read this. I love historical fiction. ..but I agree, that since this is a novel, truth gets mixed in with fiction and leads to giving WRONG answers on Jeopardy.

    • Your comments always crack me up, and yeah, I suck at Jeopardy.

  • FABRSteph

    I have been curious about this one. I read up on it not too long ago and read a long excerpt. The portion that I read did seem incredibly true. How wonderful that it is good enough that you wanted it to be true. I will have to give it a try. Thank you for your review.

    • Thanks for stopping by! It really was fun, the kind of book you hear referred to as a “romp.” Hope you enjoy!