The tapes reveal that Kennedy talked several times with his predecessors about pressing issues of the day, including with Dwight D. Eisenhower about the Cuban missile crisis. But one conversation with Harry S. Truman veered in a surprisingly personal direction as they wrapped up a call in July 1963.
“Well, you sound in good shape,” Kennedy said.
“All right,” Truman replied. “The only trouble with me is that, the main difficulty I have, is keeping the wife satisfied.”
Both men laughed.
“Well, that’s all right,” Kennedy said.
“Well, you know how that is,” Truman went on. “She’s very much afraid I’m going to hurt myself. Even though I’m not. She’s a tough bird.”
Mr. Widmer, the historian, said he believed that Truman was talking about erectile dysfunction. “I wanted the book to have human moments,” he said.