cover image End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

James Swanson. Morrow, $29.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-208348-7

Swanson%E2%80%99s 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%E2%80%99s 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%E2%80%99s 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%E2%80%99s intended purpose is above all to %E2%80%9Cresurrect the mood%E2%80%9D 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%E2%80%94most problematically Swanson%E2%80%99s 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.)