FOUR DAYS IN NOVEMBER: The Original Coverage of the John F. Kennedy Assassination by the Staff of the New York Times

New York Times, Author, The Staff of the New York Times, Author, Robert B. Semple, Editor , intro. by Tom Wicker. St. Martin's $27.95 (544p) ISBN 978-0-312-32161-1

On the 40th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, the New York Times is republishing all of its coverage from November 22, the day Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy, to November 25, the day of the president's funeral. Readers who recall the assassination will find their memories jarred by long-forgotten details, such as the name of the Dallas police officer killed during the Oswald manhunt (it was Tippit). They will also be surprised by names of then unknown players that are now familiar (one is 29-year-old Bill Moyers, described as "[a]mong the closest and brightest of Mr. Johnson's intimates"), while the names of lions of the day, like Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, may be barely recalled. Many will also be struck with how unpredictable was the future that in retrospect seems inevitable. In the moment, there is no hint that a snippet of film taken by "home movie enthusiast" Abraham Zapruder would become the driving force for a cult of conspiracy theorists. Likewise, newly sworn-in President Johnson's fateful commitment to winning the war in Vietnam is buried in a "background" article. This is not a book to be read cover to cover—many articles are of little interest—but there are some examples of terrific writing: Tom Wicker, James Reston and Anthony Lewis were all in their prime. Overall, the more than 600 pages of coverage engenders a deep appreciation of how profound was the country's anguish at the loss of its young president. 32 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/22/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
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