Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot
Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard, 2012
Book Review by Molly Lundquist
This may be the ideal primer for those too young to have lived through the JFK assassination or fallen under the spell of the Kennedy aura. The fact that our country remains fascinated—50 years later—with the man and his legacy is fascinating in and of itself.
Still more fascinating is that a commentator with Bill O'Reilly's conservative stripes would write such a glowing account of Kennedy, a Democrat—whom he admits he finds, well...fascinating.
O'Reilly offers a homey portrait of Kennedy—his early years, marriage, womanizing, as well as highlights of his 1,000 days in the White House. The views are close up and intimate, with facts presented in punchy declarative bursts. All of which makes the book highly readable.
Killing Kennedy begins with the 1960 inauguration in D.C. then makes a quick switch to the Soviet Union where we find an unhappy defector Lee Harvey Oswald applying to return to the states. Cutting back and forth between the storylines of both men, we're treated to lines like "little does he know," meant to foreshadow an ominous future. Those lines do, in fact, add dramatic irony (the "we know; they don't" kind) and help ratchet up suspense for what is basically a historical thriller.
O'Reilly said he wanted to write "history that's fun to read...no pinhead stuff," and at that he has succeeded. Sadly, however, there's no new information here; it's pretty miuch retread.
Still, as I wrote at the onset, this is a good book to start with, and if it whets your appetite, don't stop here. Other reputable, thoroughly researched books are there for the taking: William Manchester's 1967 The Death of a President and Vincent Bugliosi's 2007 Four Days in November, which attempts to put conspiracy theories to rest. Other books point to a larger conspiracy*as does the 1980 Conspiracy by Anthony Summers (see LitLovers review for Conspiracy) and the 1992 The Assassination Chronicles by Edward Jay Epstein.
*As once did an earnest young reporter named Bill O'Reilly.
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