SHOOTING KENNEDY: JFK and the Culture of Images

David M. Lubin, Author . Univ. of California $24.95 (341p) ISBN 978-0-520-22985-3

Acutely aware that there has always been more than mere tabloid curiosity fueling collective fascination with the 35th president, Wake Forest professor of art Lubin (Titanic ) examines images from the life and death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy with wit, a keen eye and an extraordinarily broad range of reference. Though rich in biographical minutiae, Lubin's image-centered approach is primarily art-historical. Combing through 110 b&w images that range from the gruesome Zapruder stills to such little-seen images as that of a bare-chested Kennedy radiantly rising from the sea, Lubin juxtaposes them with everything from the paintings of Winslow Homer to Dr. No . Through the nine chapters, Lubin's exuberant if relentless method yields inevitably mixed results. If the echoes of Winslow Homer that Lubin finds in an image of Jack and Jackie sailing at Hyannisport are subtly drawn out, a long comparison of the Kennedys' open car in Dallas with the jalopy of the Beverly Hilbillies is just a little too clever for its own good. And Lubin's sometimes breathless prose ("Jack and Jackie were all about hair") can be a little exhausting. But for a book stuffed with provocative ideas, Shooting Kennedy 's average is surprisingly good. The daring of Lubin's approach is as instructive as his often startling results, making this book a compelling speculative companion to David Wrone's frame-by-frame, just-the-facts analysis in The Zapruder Film (Forecasts, Oct. 6). (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
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