Book 46 of my 2014 Reading Challenge
Killing Kennedy by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
SummaryBy the authors of Killing Lincoln and Killing Jesus, this book details the presidency and assassination of JFK.
My OpinionDespite my huge interest in the Kennedy family, I didn't love this book.
The reasons I liked Killing Lincoln and Killing Jesus -- presenting things in a factual non-biased but interesting way -- were not present in this book. I'm not sure if it's because there's more media coverage/information/paper trails to pull from than Lincoln or Jesus had or if it's a reflection of politics, but I felt this was more gossipy and blaming (hindsight is 20/20, after all) than the other two books.
Some interesting things that were stated in the book:
- Secret Service protection of the vice president didn't start until 1962. As far as political seats go, it does appear to be an undervalued position.
- Winston Churchill became the first foreign leader to be given honorary U.S. citizenship by Congress, and JFK presented it to him via satellite in 1963.
- In the iconic statue of Abraham Lincoln located in the Lincoln Memorial, one of his fists makes the sign language letter 'A' and the other makes an 'L'.
**Note: when I fact-checked this, the response to this FAQ on nps.gov is it may or not be true but "it takes some imagination to see signs in Lincoln's hands".
While it mentions conspiracy theories as part of the story, I'm not a conspiracy theorist and appreciate that the book didn't feed into them. They did present an interesting speculation that I hadn't heard before: that it was not a federal crime to kill the president (I don't know if that has since changed) but it was a federal crime to initiate a conspiracy to kill the president so J. Edgar Hoover insisted from the beginning that there were multiple parties involved to ensure him getting federal jurisdiction over the assassination. I don't know how factual that is but it was something new to think about.
Overall, I give it a neutral rating. It wasn't horrible but it didn't stand out from the many resources available about JFK's assassination.
Quote from the Book
"Of all the amazing things happening in the world in March 1963, this simple mail-order purchase [of a rifle by Lee Harvey Oswald] would seem to have little significance. In fact, nothing will have a greater impact on world events than this nineteen-dollar Italian war-surplus bolt-action rifle."