Democracy Dies in Darkness

On Leadership

The confrontations with death that shaped John F. Kennedy

August 28, 2016 at 7:26 PM

(Backgrounds by Craig & Karl for The Washington Post; Photo by Amy King/The Washington Post)

The newest episode of the Presidential podcast  is about John F. Kennedy and death—but not his assassination.

Our episode instead focuses on three experiences Kennedy had with death earlier in his life, and how they shaped the man and president he would become.

The first is when he confronted his own mortality, because of his chronic health issues starting in childhood; the second is when he confronted the mortality of those close to him, with the death of his older brother; and the third is when he confronted the mortality of the wider human race, highlighted by his experiences during World War II.

Historians Michael Beschloss, Robert Dallek and Fredrik Logevall join this week's episode as our featured guests. Listen here or on iTunes:

In previous episodes of the Presidential podcast, we've explored topics like Theodore Roosevelt's heartbreak and the violent life of Andrew Jackson. The podcast is hosted by Lillian Cunningham, editor of The Washington Post's On Leadership section.

As listeners tune in each week, the podcast reveals the ways in which our collective sense of what's 'presidential' has evolved over the years and how each president—esteemed, loathed or nearly forgotten—has something to tell us about what it takes to hold the nation's highest office.

A new episode comes out every Sunday. Here's how to follow along:

Subscribe for free on iTunes to automatically get new episodes when they launch
Check out our Presidential page on the Washington Post site for new episodes and the full series archive
* Follow us on Twitter for discussion about the episodes and upcoming teasers
* Follow us on Instagram for images from history and from behind the scenes of the podcast

Lillian Cunningham is the creator and host of the "Presidential" and "Constitutional" podcasts. She was previously a feature writer for and editor of The Washington Post's On Leadership section, for which she received two Emmy Awards for her interviews with leaders in politics, business and the arts.

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