Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review - Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot


I think every person in American can recall exactly what they were doing on the day they learned that President Kennedy had been shot. I was at school. It was lunchtime. Another friend and I were in a classroom on the second floor trying to open an old, antique safe (no one that I know of was ever able to open it, but that's another story). I remember that as I waited for my turn with the lock that I leaned out the window. The weather was unusually hot day for November in Idaho. A friend of mine stood on the school’s steps below the window. She saw me and yelled, “Did you hear, President Kennedy has been shot?” It seemed like a cruel joke or something. But it turned out to be true. For the rest of the day we sat in our classrooms listening to the radio, hoping that the president would live. Soon word came that he had died. The days that followed were a blur, but I do remember sitting at home in front of our black and white TV and watching Jackie Kennedy kiss her husband's casket as our dead president lay in state. I remember watching his little boy, John- John, salute his father’s coffin as it passed. And I remember watching the saddled horse without a rider being lead by a soldier in the funeral procession. It was a very sad time in our nation’s history.

When I heard that Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard had written Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot I wanted to read it. I had read Killing Lincoln by the same authors and had been amazed by all the facts they brought to light, so I looked forward to learning more about President Kennedy and the time leading up to his death. I’m very glad I read their new book.

 I learned facts about President Kennedy and his administration. O’Reilly and Dugard revealed things I didn’t know about the mismanaged Bay of Pigs incident, The Cuban Missile Crisis, and some behind the scenes activities that went on in Kennedy’s life (his heroism in World War II on PT 109 and especially while he was our president). I’d heard rumors as I’m sure you have about Kennedy’s affair with Marilyn Monroe, but I had no idea how it started and why. This book doesn’t go deeply into the subject, because that’s not what it’s about, but you do learn a little more about that side of President Kennedy and how he dealt with pressure.

After reading this book, was I disappointed in the man? Yes. Did it change the image I had of him? Yes. But that isn’t bad. I learned why people loved him, why people loved Jackie, and why they were so fascinated with them. Did O’Reilly and Dugard solve who was actually behind Kennedy’s assassination? Not so much, but they did give more history to Oswald and possible motivation. I don’t think we’ll ever learn if Oswald acted alone or not. But one thing is certain, our country was never the same after Kennedy's assassination (just like we will never be the same after 9-11).

Would I recommend Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot. Yes. I'm grateful to know more about that time period and events that happened. I'd much rather learn all I can about a subject, the good and the bad, so I can make a fair assessment. I look back on that time and realize there is always more to a story than what you hear on the news. But isn't that the way it is with most things?

If you've read this book, I'd love to hear what you thought about it.

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