The Boston Globe's Kerry book, condensed.

How to read juicy books.
April 21 2004 6:42 PM

The Condensed John Kerry, Cont'd.

The best parts of the Boston Globe's new biography.

Book cover

In the preface to John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best, Globe editor Martin Baron cites a June 2003 e-mail from Jim Jordan, Kerry's then-campaign manager. Jordan complains that the Globe's forthcoming take on Kerry "doesn't look to be a fair, contextual look at a long, good life but, instead, a collection of gaffes, controversies, disputations." Baron insists that Jordan has it wrong and that the Globe's book is "complete, balanced, and authoritative." But who wants to read that? Here's an incomplete, unbalanced selection of some of the "gaffes, controversies, disputations" that Jordan was moaning about, as well as an assortment of other interesting—and occasionally positive!—tidbits from the soon-to-be-released book:

Page 7: Kerry's great-great-great-great-grandfather, the Rev. John Forbes, wasn't French, but he was a Tory. In 1763, the British made Forbes, a Scot, "minister of St. Augustine, an important post in the British control of East Florida. … When the American Revolution unfolded, Forbes remained loyal to the British Crown."


Page 27: At St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H., Kerry won a prize for a speech titled, "Resolved: that the growth of spectator sports in the western world in the last half century is an indication of the decline of western civilization."

Page 39-40: Though Kerry and Bush both say they don't recall meeting at Yale, David Thorne, a close friend of Kerry's and the brother of his first wife, says he was on hand the day the two men met. They discussed the use of busing to integrate the school system, Thorne says. Kerry was in favor of it, and Bush was opposed.

Page 50: Why did Kerry, a Vietnam War opponent, decide to enlist? In addition to feeling obliged to serve his country (and wanting to go on the same adventure that his Yale friends were going on), Kerry says that part of the reason he enlisted in Vietnam was fear of the draft: "I called [the draft board] because I was thinking one of the options was, maybe I'll go study abroad, which was a euphemism for screwing around a bit, but it was clear to me that I was going to be at risk. My draft board … said, 'Look, the likelihood is you are probably going to be drafted.' I said, 'If I'm going to be drafted, I'd like to have responsibility and be an officer.' "

Page 70, 77: When Kerry asked to be a Swift boat captain, he wasn't asking for combat duty. At the time, the boats were not yet being used for the daring river raids that would make Kerry a war hero. In a 1986 book, Kerry wrote that the Swift boats "were engaged in coastal patrolling and that's what I thought I was going to be doing. Although I wanted to see for myself what was going on, I didn't really want to get involved in the war."

Page 52: The "secret code number" of Skull and Bones is 322.

Page 73-76: After getting hit in the arm by a piece of shrapnel during a firefight, Kerry asks Lt. Cmdr. Grant Hibbard to put him in for a Purple Heart. Hibbard objected before relenting, and now says, "I've had thorns from a rose that were worse." The book does note, "Purple Hearts were widely given for many types of injuries, including minor ones."

Page 95: Kerry's second Purple Heart. "Kerry was also hit by shrapnel in his left thigh, an injury that would merit a second Purple Heart. He was treated on an offshore ship and returned to duty hours later."

Page 107: Kerry's third Purple Heart. The injury "left him off-duty for a couple days. (He had immediately returned to duty after the earlier two wounds.)"


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