The Kennedy Memorial Plaza in Dallas. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/Getty Images)

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
(Harper. $32.50)

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.

Dallas 1963

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.

The Day Kennedy Died:

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.

The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

By James L. Swanson
(Morrow. $29.99)

A detailed, sometimes minute-by-minute account of the actions of JFK and his assassin leading up to the chaos in Dealey Plaza.

Five Days in November

By Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin

(Gallery. $30)

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
(Overlook. $29.95)

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.

The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy: An Alternate History

By Jeff Greenfield
(Putnam. $26.95)

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.

The Interloper:
Lee Harvey Oswald
Inside the Soviet Union

By Peter Savodnik

An exploration of the lonely assassin who originally planned to abandon America.

JFK, Conservative

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

JFK’s Final Hours in Texas:
An Eyewitness Remembers the Tragedy and Its Aftermath

By Julian Read

(Briscoe Center for American History. $24.95)

The perspective of a media representative of Gov. John Connally from the press bus in the motorcade.

JFK in the Senate:
Pathway to the Presidency

By John T. Shaw

(Palgrave. $26)

How Kennedy’s Senate years shaped the politician and president he became.

JFK’s Last Hundred Days:
The Transformation of a Man and
the Emergence of a Great President

By Thurston Clarke
(Penguin Press. $29.95)

A chronicle of the strides Kennedy made — in his personal life and as president — during the last few months before his assassination.

Kennedy & Reagan:
Why Their Legacies Endure

By Scott Farris

(Lyons. $27.95)

A dual biography focuses on the lasting political influence of the “model” Democrat and “model” Republican.


The Loss That Transformed JFK

By Steven Levingston

(The Washington Post/
Diversion Books, e-book. $2.99)

The impact on the president, the first lady and the nation of the death of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, who was born prematurely in August 1963 and died 39 hours later.


The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy

By Larry J. Sabato

(Bloomsbury. $30)

How presidents from Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama have used JFK’s legacy for their own ends.

The Letters of John F. Kennedy

Edited by Martin W. Sandler

(Bloomsbury. $30)

From youthful Jack asking his father for a raise in his allowance to the president’s letters to Khrushchev during the Cuban missile crisis. Letters to Kennedy from Nikita Khrushchev, Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt and others also are included.

November 22, 1963 :

Ordinary and Extraordinary People Recall Their Reactions When They Heard the News

By Jodie Elliott Hansen
and Laura Hansen

(Thomas Dunne/St. Martins. $27.99)

Ordinary and famous people, contacted between 1978 and 1983, offer their memories of the assassination. Celebrities include Bob Hope, Mary Tyler Moore, Arthur Miller, Princess Grace of Monaco, John Glenn and James Michener.

NOVEMBER 22, 1963:

Reflections on the Life, Assassination, and Legacy
of John F. Kennedy

By Dean R. Owen

(Skyhorse. $24.95)

A range of voices — from Kennedy White House staffers to family and friends, civil rights leaders and celebrities — discuss JFK’s death and legacy.

The Poison Patriarch:

How the Betrayals of
Joseph P. Kennedy Caused the Assassination of JFK

By Mark Shaw

(Skyhorse. $24.95)

What was the link between Joseph Kennedy and the mob? And was the father responsible for his son’s assassination?

The Power of Citizenship:

Why John F. Kennedy Matters
to a New Generation

By Scott D. Reich

(BenBella. $24.95)

An entreaty to today’s youth to embrace Kennedy’s call to “ask what you can do for your country.”

Reclaiming History:

The Assassination
of President John F. Kennedy

By Vincent Bugliosi

(Norton. $79.95)

A new edition of a massive appraisal of the assassination, concluding that beyond a reasonable doubt, Oswald acted alone.

Reclaiming Parkland:

Tom Hanks, Vincent Bugliosi, and the JFK Assassination in the New Hollywood

By James DiEugenio

(Skyhorse. $26.95)

The movie “Parkland” gets the truth about JFK’s assassination wrong, DiEugenio argues.

A Spy Like No Other:

The Cuban Missile Crisis, the KGB and the Kennedy Assassination

By Robert Holmes

(Biteback. $29.95)

Oswald had help from rogue Soviet intelligence officers disgruntled by a KGB leader’s execution and the Soviet humiliation in the Cuban missile crisis.

These Few Precious Days:

The Final Year of Jack With Jackie
By Christopher Andersen

(Gallery. $27)

The life and relationship of the president and first lady leading up to the assassination.

They Killed Our President:

63 Reasons to Believe There Was a Conspiracy to Assassinate JFK

By Jesse Ventura

(Skyhorse. $24.95)

The former professional wrestler and Minnesota governor contends that the U.S. government plotted the assassination and then covered it up.

To Move the World:

JFK’s Quest for Peace

By Jeffrey D. Sachs

(Random House. $26)

Emerging from the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy devoted himself to forging peace with the Soviet Union and defusing fears of a nuclear holocaust.

A Novel of the Kennedy Assassination

By Jim Lehrer

(Random House. $26)

Secret Service agent Van Walters grapples with lasting psychological scars after ordering the removal of the bubble top on the limousine that carried President Kennedy through Dealey Plaza.

We Were There :

Revelations From the Dallas
Doctors Who Attended to JFK
on November 22, 1963

By Allen Childs

(Skyhorse. $22.95)

Memories of surgeons and 46 other doctors at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

Where Were You? :

America Remembers
the JFK Assassination

Compiled and edited by
Gus Russo and Harry Moses

(Lyons. $29.95)

In this companion book to the NBC documentary, the famous and not-so-famous recall the moment they heard the news.


50 Years Later Stunning New Revelations About the JFK Assassination

By Jerome R. Corsi

(WND. $25.95)

The lone-gunman theory is debunked by an alternate conclusion about what the Zapruder film shows, the existence of tape-recorded Mafia godfather confessions and other research claiming to have finally cracked the case.