“The President Has Been Shot!”: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

James L. Swanson. Scholastic Press, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-545-49007-8
Swanson brings the same immediacy and thrillerlike tension he achieved in Chasing Lincoln’s Killer to this harrowing account of the Kennedy assassination (an adult version, End of Days, will be published later this year). As the subtitle suggests, Swanson concentrates on the buildup to and aftermath of the Dallas shooting on November 22, 1963. After a quick overview of Kennedy’s ascent to and first years in office (including the Bay of Pigs and the Space Race), he shifts between Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald in the days before and after the assassination. Swanson doesn’t avoid the horrific details of the shooting, and he’s open about the failings of well-meaning officials and staffers in the wake of the shooting. There’s no danger of uncovering any sympathy for Oswald, painted by Swanson as “a complaining, self-pitying, attention-seeking, temperamental, impoverished idealogue.” The book’s meticulous design incorporates numerous diagrams and b&w period photographs, and extensive source notes back up Swanson’s work. Even the simple decision to title the book’s chapters by date emphasizes how, in the span of just a few days, America changed irrevocably. Ages 12–up. Agent: Richard Abate, 3 Arts Entertainment. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/2013
Release date: 09/24/2013
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