End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedyby James L. Swanson
In End of Days, James L. Swanson, the New York Times bestselling author of Mahnunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer, brings to life the minute-by-minute details of the JFK assassination—from the Kennedys’ arrival in Texas through the shooting in Dealey Plaza and the shocking aftermath that continues to/em>/em>/em>
In End of Days, James L. Swanson, the New York Times bestselling author of Mahnunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer, brings to life the minute-by-minute details of the JFK assassination—from the Kennedys’ arrival in Texas through the shooting in Dealey Plaza and the shocking aftermath that continues to reverberate in our national consciousness fifty years later.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, has been the subject of enduring debate, speculation, and numerous conspiracy theories, but Swanson’s absorbing and complete account follows the event hour-by-hour, from the moment Lee Harvey Oswald conceived of the crime three days before its execution, to his own murder two days later at a Dallas Police precinct at the hands of Jack Ruby, a two-bit nightclub owner.
Based on sweeping research never before collected so powerfully in a single volume, and illustrated with photographs, End of Days distills Kennedy’s assassination into a pulse-pounding thriller that is sure to become the definitive popular account of this historic crime for years to come.
Swanson’s attempt to recount the events leading up to November 22, 1963 and its aftermath in a coherent narrative is nowhere near as successful as his Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer. Critical readers will wish that his prefatory note had detailed his use of sources, and why Marina Oswald was for him an unimpeachable witness. In the absence of such an explanation the opening sections, descriptions of her husband’s failed attempt on the life of right-wing General Edwin Walker, and extensive quoted dialogue will raise questions of whether Swanson has sacrificed accuracy for dramatic effect. While the author’s intended purpose is above all to “resurrect the mood” of the time, his writing is repetitive and can lean to hokey at times. Again and again as the fatal day nears, the reader is forewarned that such and such occasion will prove to be the last. There are also major assumptions at play in this retelling—most problematically Swanson’s treatment of the Warren Commission. Even those who accept the verdict that Oswald acted alone will wonder why Swanson states that this finding was never contradicted by official government investigations when records state otherwise. In the end, Swanson sacrifices too much in the name of storytelling and the result is an oversimplified retelling. (Nov.)
For the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, Swanson (Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln's Corpse, 2010, etc.) breathlessly re-creates the tragedy. Drawing on the decades of technological advances that have deepened the knowledge of the assassination, the author presents the stunning unfolding of the event in punchy, poignant vignettes, following one character after another to the inexorable conclusion. "Today we know much more about the assassination of President Kennedy than the members of the Warren commission did," acknowledging the organization appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to investigate the murder and present its findings nearly a year later. Swanson's tidy, concise character summaries give a terrific sense of the dramatis personae in just a few strokes: JFK, impossibly brilliant and charismatic, overcoming enormous obstacles to his rising star; stylish Jackie, emerging from mourning the death of newborn Patrick, agreeing to accompany her husband to Dallas as part of the campaigning swing through Texas, holding up beforehand for Jack the outfits she had chosen to "show these Texans what good taste really is"; Lee Harvey Oswald, the "lifelong loser and nobody," planning to catch a bus after killing the president; and LBJ, incredibly poised under the strain of those first few hours, especially regarding his graciousness toward Jackie. Swanson manages a sympathetic, human portrait of Marina, Oswald's long-suffering Russian wife, and excoriates the Secret Service for many bad decisions--e.g., the immediate washing out of the limo and the rush to take JFK's body back to Washington, D.C., before a proper criminal autopsy was performed, an oversight that would "come to haunt the history of John Kennedy's assassination for the next fifty years." Clarity has finally lifted the lingering suspicion of conspiracy in favor of the creation of a shining Kennedy legacy. Chilling, gruesome and riveting.
- HarperCollins Publishers
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- 5.30(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.60(d)
Meet the Author
James Swanson is the Edgar Award-winning author of the New York Times bestsellers Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer and its sequel, Bloody Crimes: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Chase for Jefferson Davis. His other books include the award-winning bestseller for young adults Chasing Lincoln's Killer. He was a recipient of a Historic Deerfield Fellowship in Early American History, and he serves on the advisory council of the Ford's Theatre Society. Swanson has degrees in history and in law from the University of Chicago and UCLA and has held a number of government and think-tank posts in Washington, D.C., including at the United States Department of Justice.
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Absolutely terrible. Nothing but the same old facts, enlivened by tons of unfounded speculation by the author. Any of ten other books tell the story more accurately and more originally.
I must admit i'm only 25 pages in but there is too much first-person account of conversations between the Oswalds, as if the author were actually there, borders on fiction rather than historical fact, hopefully will pick up later on facts,
That says it all. James Swanson is a master of non fiction. I just can't put his books down!
Good overall account.
The brutal slaying of a much loved husband, father and President.....distilled, according to the publisher, into a "pulse pounding thriller." Excuse me while I go vomit.