John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the son of Joseph Patrick Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald, was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on 29th May, 1917. His great grandfather, Patrick Kennedy, had emigrated from Ireland in 1849 and his grandfathers, Patrick Joseph Kennedy and John Francis Fitzgerald, were important political figures in Boston. Kennedy's father was a highly successful businessman who later served as ambassador to Great Britain (1937-40).
In 1940 Kennedy graduated from Harvard University with a science degree. The same year saw the publication of Why England Slept (1940), a book on foreign policy. He joined the United States Navy in 1941 and became an intelligence officer. After the United States entered the Second World War, Kennedy was transferred to the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron where he was given command of a PT boat.
Sent to the South Pacific, in August 1943, his boat was hit by a Japanese destroyer. Two of his crew were killed but the other six men managed to cling on to what remained of the boat. After a five hour struggle Kennedy, and what was left of his crew, managed to get to an island five miles from where the original incident took place.
Kennedy suffered a bad back injury and in December 1943 was sent back to the United States. When he recovered he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and became a PT instructor in Florida. After a further operation on his back he returned to civilian life in March 1945. For the next twelve months he worked as a journalist covering the United Nations Conference in San Francisco and the 1945 General Election in Britain.
Kennedy was elected to the Senate in 1952. The following year he married Jacqueline Bouvier, the daughter of a New York City financier. Over the next few years four children were born but only two, Caroline and John, survived infancy. Kennedy continued to suffer from back problems and had two operations in October 1954 and February 1955. While recovering in hospital he wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning Profiles in Courage (1956).
Kennedy was a strong advocate of social welfare and civil rights legislation in the Senate. Kennedy also sponsored bills for providing Federal financial aid to education, liberalizing United States immigration laws and a measure that required full disclosure of all employee pension and welfare funds.
In March 1960, Henry Brandon contacted Marion Leiter who arranged for Ian Fleming to have dinner with Kennedy.
The author of The Life of Ian Fleming (1966), John Pearson, has pointed out: "During the dinner the talk largely concerned itself with the more arcane aspects of American politics and Fleming was attentive but subdued. But with coffee and the entrance of Castro into the conversation he intervened in his most engaging style. Cuba was already high on the headache list of Washington politicians, and another of those what’s to-be-done conversations got underway.
Fleming laughed ironically and began to develop the theme that the United States was making altogether too much fuss about Castro – they were building him into a world figure, inflating him instead of deflating him. It would be perfectly simple to apply one or two ideas which would take all the steam out of the Cuban." Kennedy asked him what would James Bond do about fidel castro. Fleming replied, “Ridicule, chiefly.” Kennedy must have passed the message to the CIA for on as the following day Brandon received a phone-call from Allen Dulles, asking for a meeting with Fleming.