The Presidency: Toughening Up

To visitors, the President of the U.S. seemed outwardly edgy—shifting about in his chair, straightening his tie, pulling up his socks. But behind the gestures, typical of John F. Kennedy's restless style, lay a new and considerable confidence.

To be sure, the problems that faced Kennedy ten months after his inauguration were numerous and thorny enough to make any man tense. While U.S. and Russian tanks faced each other across the border of East Berlin, Communist aggression in Southeast Asia was newly alarming as a threat to the free world and a test of U.S. intentions. Russian nuclear tests had reached...

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