A trio of JFK wonders

5 Jul

Serendipitously I read 3 books about JFK — one fiction, two non-fiction. Together they gave me a good idea of Camelot and the public (and private) life of JFK.

I began with the Stephen King book 11/22/63. I am not a fan of time travel, but this book hooked me from the beginning. Maybe because the main character, Jake Epping, was a teacher, or maybe not, but I was hooked. Jake’s friend Al (and I use the term loosely) is dying and he wants to share his secret with Jake. If you go into Al’s pantry, and walk forward a little bit, you will travel back in time to September 9, 1958. Al wants to stop the assignation of JFK. It’s as simple as that. But i typical Stephen King fashion, it’s anything but simple. Anyone taking that step in the pantry into the past resets the past. Al has done it lots of times. But now that he is ill he wants Jake to take over and save Kennedy’s life.

This book does a terrific job of mixing fact with fiction. If you don’t know a lot about the assignation of JFK, you will. And interesting book, it kept me engaged and holding my breath on more than one occasion. Should the past be changed? And if it is, what changes occur in the future? This is what plagues Jake, and me too.

The second book I read was Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. This is all fact — no fiction — but it is easily read and digested. Since the same characters are in both Killing Kennedy and 11/22/63, I felt like I was seeing old friends. The questions about conspiracies and exactly what happened on that day are investigated by O’Reilly and Dugard. In my mind they put to rest any questions about what happened and how it happened and why it did so. The book is delightfully easy to read and held my attention throughout.

Finally I read Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath by Mimi Alford. This book puts a human face on both Kennedy and those around him, although that face is not always flattering. This book is not one for kids, nor should it be. It tells the story of JFK from the viewpoint of one of his female friends. Interesting to note the comment about 11/22/63 and why Jackie was in Dallas with JFK. Put together with the other two books, it ties them all together with compassion, and passion, and wit. The book is a quick read, in fact, I had trouble putting it down. For a teacher this could be a problem were it not for the fact that this is summer break.

Why it was not by design that I read these books, I am glad that I did. I am not overly fluent in history, but I feel like I now can carry on a descent conversation on this topic. Give them a try. Let me know what you think.

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