Why England Slept


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KENNEDY, John F. Why England Slept. New York: Wilfred Funk, 1940. Octavo, original red cloth, supplied dust jacket.

First edition, third printing, of John F. Kennedy's first book, issued one month after the first printing, of JFK's striking analysis of Britain's lack of preparation for WWII, signed by him on the front free endpaper. This copy has been additionally inscribed by JFK's older brother, Joseph Kennedy, Jr., above his brother's signature: "To my favorite land lady from the author's brother."

Published the year JFK graduated from Harvard, Why England Slept was an expansion of his senior thesis. The title is a variation on the title of Churchill's While England Slept, issued about two years before. Kennedy's work focuses on why England was so poorly prepared for WWII and why its leaders settled upon the disastrous policies of appeasement. The book served as a warning to those in America who felt that appeasing Hitler and staying out of the war were viable options. It became a bestseller and went through several printings in its first year. "For all Americans who are wide awake enough to read… this book is invaluable… [It is] a remarkable book in many respects… If John Kennedy is characteristic of the younger generation—and I believe he is—many of us would be happy to have the destinies of this Republic handed over to his generation at once. This book has the rare and immensely appealing quality of combining factuality and breadth of understanding with the truest instincts of patriotism" (Foreword, Henry Luce). JFK's signature is notorious among collectors for its variation over the years; this is an excellent example of his early signature. Stated "Third Printing, August, 1940" on copyright page. In a dust jacket supplied from another copy of the second printing, with "Second Large Printing" stated on front panel. JFK's older brother Joseph was undoubtedly proud of his younger brother's work, as seen here in this presentation. Born in 1915, he was a central focus of the family; his father, Joseph Kennedy, Sr., had aspirations for him becoming president. After his death in 1944 while on a top secret mission, Joseph Sr. turned his attention to his next oldest son, John, to fulfill his political aspirations.

Staining and wear to cloth and dust jacket, interior generally quite clean. Very desirable signed by JFK, and with a wonderful family association having been inscribed by his brother.

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John F. KENNEDY   |   Theodore C. SORENSEN

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KENNEDY, John F. >