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Kennedy’s Last Days: The Assassination That Defined a Generation

Publisher: Square Fish • 2013 • 336 pages

Aiming for a young audience, the popular political pundit pares down his Killing Kennedy (2012) considerably (and leaves out the sexual exploits) while shoveling in sheaves of documentary photographs.

O’Reilly writes in staccato bursts of present-tense prose chopped into short chapters and featuring quick shifts in point of view. This effectively cranks up the suspense despite tinges of purple (“The man with fewer than three years to live places his left hand on the Bible”) and the foreordained outcome. The book chronicles John F. Kennedy’s course from PT-109 through a challenging presidency and positively harps on Lee Harvey Oswald’s determined but doomed quest to become a “great man.”

Though he ends with a personal anecdote that hints at the possibility of a conspiracy, the author’s closely detailed account of the assassination itself and its aftermath follows the Warren Commission’s version of events. News photos or snapshots on nearly every page provide views of the Kennedy and Oswald families over time, as well as important figures, places and major world events. Aside from a perfunctory list of “Fun Facts About the Early 1960s” that seems misplaced considering the somber topic, the backmatter is both extensive and helpful for further study of Kennedy’s career and accomplishments.

The melodrama is laid on with a trowel, but it’s nevertheless a thoroughly documented, visually rich presentation of the official version.

Book Review from Kirkus Reviews

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