JOHN G. W. MAHANNA
History / Memoir
John G. W. Mahanna (1913–1984) was born in Lenox, Massachusetts. In 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression, he began his career in journalism working as a correspondent for his hometown newspaper, The Berkshire Eagle. During World War II he served as a Special Agent with the Office of Naval Intelligence, and wrote detailed dispatches about some of the war’s most significant battles. After meeting John F. Kennedy briefly in 1944, the two men met again, by chance, at a conference in April 1945, and quickly became friends. After the war, Mahanna returned to Lenox and was appointed county editor of The Berkshire Eagle. With his wife Evona, he helped manage many of Kennedy’s political campaigns (first for Senator and then for President) in Western Massachusetts. In 1960, Kennedy appointed Mahanna Public Information Officer with the Office of Civil Defense at the Pentagon; in 1971 he worked for the Office of Emergency Preparations, and then (in 1973) as a Public-Affairs Specialist for the Cost of Living Council.
Mahanna wrote two interesting books: Music Under the Moon, an early history of the Berkshire Symphonic Festival at Tanglewood; and The Seated Lincoln, a story about the creation of the Lincoln Memorial and the statue of Abraham Lincoln.