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Sounding the Trumpet: Making JFK's Inaugural Address

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Some called it the finest American political document in more than forty years. Others say it was the best expression of the American spirit since Woodrow Wilson, and perhaps since Emerson. More than a half-century after its delivery, historians agree that there is at least one way in which John F. Kennedy ranks with Jefferson, Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt—in the quality of his inaugural address.

In Sounding the Trumpet, Richard Tofel tells the full story of this mythic moment in American history. He draws on original research materials in the Kennedy Library and elsewhere around the country, and, unlike earlier treatments of the subject, on exclusive conversations with Theodore Sorensen, Kennedy's aide and chief speechwriter. Sounding the Trumpet thus reveals many unknown details about this landmark speech:
—Why JFK's famous handwritten "draft" of the speech is not a draft at all
—What happened to the speech's first draft
—How Kennedy rejected a last-minute, path-breaking addition about civil rights
—How extensive portions of the speech came from a draft submitted by Adlai Stevenson
—How John Kenneth Galbraith tried to supplant Sorensen as Kennedy's draftsman
—Precisely how much of the speech Kennedy wrote himself, and how much came originally from a draft by Sorensen

Mr. Tofel sets the political scene for Kennedy's inaugural address, tells the story of the inaugural day in detail, and follows closely the writing of the speech, its delivery, and its reception then and later. He plumbs its many sources, from Shakespeare to the Old and New Testaments, from a key sentence crafted by John Kenneth Galbraith to an important change suggested by Walter Lippmann, and notes the influence on the speech of authors from Maxwell Taylor to Walt Rostow to Strunk and Whi

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