Saturday, August 1, 2015



New York City (JFK+50)  Three-quarters of a century ago today, August 1, 1940, twenty-three year old John F. Kennedy's first book,was published here in New York City by Funk, Inc.

The book, titled Why England Slept, adapted from Mr. Kennedy's senior thesis at Harvard University, was an analysis of Great Britain's delay in building up its military while Adolf Hitler's Third Reich was in the process of rearming.

The title of the book is based on the 1938 work While England Slept by JFK's hero Winston Churchill.

The introduction is  written by Henry R. Luce of Time Magazine

Mr. Luce writes:

"In recent months there has been a certain amount of alarm concerning the 'attitude' of the younger generation.  If John Kennedy is characteristic of the younger generation--and I believe he is--many of us would be happy to have the destiny of the Republic handed over to his generation at once."

First Edition 
Original Price $2

Why England Slept sold 80,000 copies in Great Britain and the United States. Proceeds from sales in the U.K. were donated to the town of Plymouth which had been bombed by the German air force.

According to  a 2005 book review available at

"'Why England Slept' is not overwhelmingly brilliant....but it does provide an intriguing glance at the attitude of 1940 and at the formative years of a legendary American political figure of the 20th century.  

Kennedy's articulate style forms a lucid account of all the facts and occasionally flashes into a foreshadowing of future brilliance."

According to an article in UK's Daily Mail dated December 6, 2013, a signed copy of JFK's first book was on the auction block.  The copy, said to be purchased by the owner in Stamford, Lincolnshire in 2001, was intended to be presented to Queen Elizabeth II while President Kennedy was visiting the UK in June 1963.  The book was reportedly never given to the Queen because she was in Scotland at the time of JFK's visit.*

The article includes a photograph of the following inscription inside the book...

"To Elizabeth with affection, John F. Kennedy"

and the following phrase adapted from his inaugural address...

"we must not fear to negotiate"

The copy was being auctioned in December 2013 by  JFK+50 does not know if the book sold.


We have found verification that President Kennedy visited Birch Grove in Sussex on June 30, 1963 and attended a luncheon with Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.  We cannot, however, find evidence of the whereabouts of the Queen on this date.  


"Signed copy of JFK book Why England Slept, meant as present for Queen Elizabeth before his assassination, to go under the hammer," Daily Mail, December 6, 2013,

JFK+50 Note:

We have seen many copies of JFK's signature but in all honesty the writing alleged to be his in this book does not look anything like we've seen before.  It certainly does not even resemble JFK's handwriting in 1963.  JFK's signature has been the subject of much controversy over the years.  Authentication could only be done by a reputable, trained and experienced autograph expert.  Also, perhaps some other sources could shed light on whether President Kennedy did, in fact, sign a copy of his book for the Queen.