JFK White House recordings: 8 excerpts from the new book

Excerpts from some of the secret recordings made in the JFK White House are revealed in the new book 'Listening In.'

7. JFK and the race to the moon


In 1962, before the moon landing, Kennedy spoke with James Webb, administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and deputy administrator of NASA Robert Seamans, and urged them to make going to the moon the top priority. "Everything that we do ought to really be tied in to getting onto the moon ahead of the Russians," he said. "By God, we've been telling everyone we're preeminent ini space for five years, and nobody believes it because [the Russians] have the booster and the satellite.... we're ahead scientifically. It's like that instrument you've got at Stanford which is costing us a hundred and twenty-five million dollars and everybody tells me that we're the number one in the world. And what is it? I can't even think what it is." "The linear accelerator," multiple voices supplied. "That's wonderful," Kennedy said. "But nobody knows anything about it!"

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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