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Encore Q&A: Ted Widmer

Washington, DC
Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ted Widmer is the editor of “Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy.” The book contains two audio CDs with 75 minutes of recorded conversations from the oval office, cabinet meetings, telephone calls, and private dictations during Kennedy’s presidency. Mr. Widmer describes how he was approached by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation to select and introduce and transcribe the recordings. He shares numerous clips throughout the program including a phone call from President Kennedy to Defense department advisors about the best way to board inbound Soviet ships during the Cuban missile crisis. We hear as President Kennedy calls Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman seeking advice. Widmer also chose to share the contentious discussions between Kennedy and then Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett as they dealt with the riots over the enrollment of James Meredith as the first black student to attend the University of Mississippi. Widmer also reveals a more light-hearted side to the President in several of the recordings. Widmer reflects upon his academic training at Harvard, as well as his experiences serving both President Bill Clinton, during his presidency, and Hillary Clinton, during her time as Secretary of State.

Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 12:33pm (ET)

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