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TITLE: PRESIDENT KENNEDY

AUTHOR: RICHARD REEVES

PUBLISHER: SIMON & SCHUSTER; 798 PAGES; $30

THE BOTTOM LINE: A cool, clear look at the way J.F.K. dealt with his crises.

In October 1963, John F. Kennedy had to decide what to do about the war in Vietnam and, most urgently, whether to back a military coup in Saigon. Kennedy was, writes Richard Reeves, "quietly desperate about the contradictions and misinformation swirling around him. Perhaps half of what he was being told was wrong, but he did not know which half." As he had done before, he dispatched personal envoys -- this time Defense...

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