So few years in the nation’s highest office — yet so many books. This year in particular, authors are digging again into the debates over the Kennedy legacy, the old conspiracy theories, the fantasies of what might have been, the fond and sad recollections, and the always captivating stories of a blessed and cursed life. Here is a selection of titles published for the anniversary of that November day 50 years ago.
The Accidental Victim:
JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald,
and the Real Target in Dallas
By James Reston Jr.
(History Book Club. $23.95;
Zola, e-book. $7.99)
Was Texas Gov. John Connally the intended target of Lee Harvey Oswald?
Inside the Kennedy White House
By Robert Dallek
The story of how a glamorous but green president struggled with conflicting and often bad advice while trying to avoid nuclear Armageddon.
The Secret History
of the Kennedy Assassination
By Philip Shenon
(Henry Holt. $32)
The faulty procedures and missing evidence of the Warren Commission’s investigation, which ended up fueling rather than suppressing public suspicions of a high-level conspiracy.
By Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis (Twelve. $28)
A portrait of Dallas at the time of the assassination — a city of political passions and extremist personalities strongly opposed to the Kennedy presidency.
50 Years Later Life Remembers the Man and the Moment
(Life Books. $50)
A coffee-table picture book from the Life magazine archives with a complete — ads included — full-size replica of the Nov. 29, 1963, edition of Life.
END OF DAYS:
The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
By James L. Swanson
A detailed, sometimes minute-by-minute account of the actions of JFK and his assassin leading up to the chaos in Dealey Plaza.
By Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin
Recollections of the days before and after the assassination, by the Secret Service agent who jumped onto the car after the shots rang out.
History Will Prove Us Right: Inside the Warren Commission Report on the Assassination
of John F. Kennedy
By Howard P. Willens
The commission got it right — Oswald was the sole assassin — and that conclusion holds up after 50 years of scrutiny, argues Willens, a member of the commission’s supervisory staff.
IF KENNEDY LIVED:
The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy: An Alternate History
By Jeff Greenfield
A thought experiment assessing the events that would have unfolded had Kennedy not died on Nov. 22, 1963, but lived to grapple with Vietnam. Includes the imagined fallout from his womanizing and his poor health.
Lee Harvey Oswald
Inside the Soviet Union
By Peter Savodnik
An exploration of the lonely assassin who originally planned to abandon America.
By Ira Stoll
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $27)
Kennedy’s life and policies — he was a devout Catholic, a tax-cut proponent and no friend of big government — suggest that he was more conservative than traditionally believed, argues the editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com.