Purchase on Amazon: Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot
Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard
A riveting historical narrative of the shocking events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the follow-up to mega-bestselling author Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln.
More than a million readers have thrilled to Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln, the page-turning work of nonfiction about the shocking assassination that changed the course of American history. Now the anchor of The O’Reilly Factor; recounts in gripping detail the brutal murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy–and how a sequence of gunshots on a Dallas afternoon not only killed a beloved president but also sent the nation into the cataclysmic division of the Vietnam War and its culture-changing aftermath.
In January 1961, as the Cold War escalates, John F. Kennedy struggles to contain the growth of Communism while he learns the hardships, solitude, and temptations of what it means to be president of the United States. Along the way he acquires a number of formidable enemies, among them Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and Alan Dulles, director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In addition, powerful elements of organized crime have begun to talk about targeting the president and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
In the midst of a 1963 campaign trip to Texas, Kennedy is gunned down by an erratic young drifter named Lee Harvey Oswald. The former Marine Corps sharpshooter escapes the scene, only to be caught and shot dead while in police custody.
The events leading up to the most notorious crime of the twentieth century are almost as shocking as the assassination itself. Killing Kennedy chronicles both the heroism and deceit of Camelot, bringing history to life in ways that will profoundly move the reader. This may well be the most talked about book of the year.
In Killing Kennedy, authors Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard cover one of the saddest events in United States history, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The authors spend much of the book exploring the paths taken by President Kennedy, his wife Jacqueline, and Kennedy’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald leading up to the day of the assassination. Only in the final chapters does O’Reilly and Dugard reexamine the events of November 22, 1963.
One of Killing Kennedy’s strengths is the authors’ ability to take the reader behind the doors of Camelot. Readers not only get to see how President Kennedy handled events such as the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Civil Rights movement, but also how he struggled to manage his cabinet and his friendships with Hollywood’s elite. O’Reilly and Duggard do an excellent job of providing a balanced description of John Kennedy. By the end of the book, readers see Kennedy as an extremely devoted father and astute politician who had numerous extramarital affairs and made some shady political alliances during his lifetime. It is important to note here that the authors do go into detail about Kennedy’s sexual affairs. This may not be suitable for younger readers, i.e. middle school and high school aged children.
Another strength of Killing Kennedy is the authors’ depiction of Jacqueline “Jackie” Kennedy as both the influential first lady and a guarded individual. Although Jackie Kennedy was adored by millions around the world, readers discover that she hated the spotlight. For example, before giving the famous White House tour, we learn that Jackie Kennedy smoked a pack of cigarettes to calm her nerves. Moreover, readers get to see Jackie Kennedy in the role of loving wife to John F. Kennedy. While the Kennedys did not have a perfect marriage, O’Reilly and Dugard show how Jackie Kennedy grew closer to her husband during his presidency.
In providing balance to the story of Kennedy’s assassination, the authors describe the transformation of Lee Harvey Oswald from a troubled United States soldier to assassin. Through interviews with former FBI agents closely involved with following Lee Harvey Oswald, readers discover more about the man responsible for killing John F. Kennedy. We learn that Oswald was involved in promoting the Communist Party and even attempted to talk with Fidel Castro and the Cuban government. However, O’Reilly and Dugard stop short of accusing anyone outside of Lee Harvey Oswald of killing President Kennedy, despite demonstrating evidence that many individuals disliked the President.
Overall, Killing Kennedy is an excellent read for anyone wanting to learn more about United States history and President John F. Kennedy. Killing Kennedy is perfect for individuals who dislike reading non-fiction because the authors tell the story in present tense. This allows readers to travel back to the early 1960s and relive the Kennedy presidency with each turn of the page. The foretelling references to Kennedy’s death (example “the man with three years left to live”) can be annoying to some readers, but once one gets into the story these references become less bothering. Another word of caution is that Killing Kennedy may not be the ideal book for serious readers of history (otherwise known as history buffs) With the exception of the FBI interviews regarding Oswald, O’Reilly and Dugard fail to provide any new information about the Kennedy assassination. However, I would still recommend Killing Kennedy to anyone looking for a quick, interesting historical read.
Pros: Great summary of President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald’s lives. Balanced portrayal of Jackie Kennedy. Easy reading format that will allow fans of fiction enjoy a historical account.
Cons: No earth shattering discovery about Kennedy’s assassination and essentially a rehashing of known facts.
Watch Bill O’Reilly discussing Killing Kennedy on Imus Show
Brent has a B.A. in History and Peace War and Defense from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has served as an educator for the last two years. His reading interests include nonfiction historical accounts, southern literature, and the occasional mystery novel.