Phillips on Kennedy

Hollywood Blvd.

Interviewer: Good Evening Mr. Phillips.

Gordon Phillips: Good Evening Tom.

Interviewer: This is quite a busy time for you as your new book on President John F. Kennedy comes out tomorrow. My first question for you tonight is why you felt compelled to write it…

Phillips: Sure

Interviewer: …There have been a great number of biographies on Kennedy, what was it that you felt remained to be discovered of the man?

Phillips: Well this book is not so much a biography on the man himself as it is one on the ideas that he represented and those that came to define an era that was, and perhaps this was a consequence of his own brief time with us, rather short-lived.

When I first moved out here to California I began watching a great deal of Oliver Stone movies. I couldn’t place it exactly, what it was that drew me so forcefully to his films but I think a part of it was that the bulk of his films, at least the early ones, are centered on the American 1960s–’Born on the 4th of July,’ ‘Platoon,’ ‘JFK,’ ‘The Doors,’ ‘Heaven and Earth.’

But I found that it was ‘JFK’ in particular that served as the most exemplary of both Stone’s work and what it was that I was perhaps subconsciously seeking. The greatest message of the film I thought was also what the 1960s seemed to so acutely represent, which was the great hope of what this country can be, the triumph of peace over war, of idealism over cynicism and that idealism does not in fact go hand in hand with naivety or illusiveness, or some kind of blind optimism.

These were ideals that rang loudly in that decade. They were indeed exemplified by men such as Kennedy, who sought the best in his fellow man, regardless of his flag or creed, in his passionate and undying pursuit of peace. These ideals seemed to ring, almost as though echoing from the shots fired November of ’63, until the decade’s end, until they ultimately died, or at least disappeared somewhere, maybe falling into that dark, ugly pit of drugs, self-absorption and repressed loathing that.. ehh.. Hunter Thompson so accurately detailed in Las Vegas.

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