In 1962, President John F. Kennedy had a secret recording system installed in the Oval Office. Hidden on his desk and on a coffee table were microphones that picked up hundreds of hours of meetings with his staff, other elected officials and even former Presidents. The transcripts of many of these extraordinary conversations are compiled in the new book, “Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy,” by Ted Widmer.
The tapes provide an unusual glimpse into Kennedy’s management style and decision-making process. One conversation that we didn’t get to on the show today was between Kennedy and his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower. At the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, with the threat of nuclear war looming like it had never before, Kennedy sought the advice of the former President and five-star general, one of the few people in the world who could feel the weight that was on Kennedy’s shoulders. Take a listen to the clip below.