Primarily an autobiography detailing the events that would lead to Sorensen’s working for John F. Kennedy helping craft his speeches and manage the state level campaign that would lead to his presidency, how that position morphed as they entered the White House, and the life he went on to live after the assassination; the book offers a window into a contentious, yet revered period in American history.
An extremely personable yet candid account, Sorensen reveals how his personal beliefs and family upbringing informed his approach to politics and the advice he would go on to provide during seminal events like the Cuban Missile Crisis.
And while unapologetic in his idolization of President Kennedy, Sorensen still acknowledges the many mistakes were made along the way, and that despite their closeness the president was still very much his own man, who ad-libed when he felt appropriate, and was the primary architect of both the Berlin and University of Washington speeches, addressing aspersions that he had had more of an influence than he really did on the politics of the JFK White House.
For a student of history however, I found Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History to be a great source of insight into the changing nature of politics as television became the primary battleground for American presidential races, as well as the many considerations that go into running such a campaign, and even provides a short section toward the back of the book entitled “Why and How to Run for President,” included by Sorensen having been asked by various presidential hopefuls over the years on advice for their own campaigns.
Given his strength as a writer, the book as expected is eloquently written and moves along efficiently while covering such expansive moments in history.