Book Review: Killing Kennedy


Like many Americans, I have grown up with a curiosity about the Kennedy family.  JFK, Camelot, the uncanny amount of tragedy, and the many ways that the Kennedy family was involved in shaping the history of our country.  President Kennedy was killed almost exactly 15 years before I was born, so most of the people in my parent’s and grandparent’s generations have a “where I was when the President was killed” story.  I’ve also always been so intrigued by the ways that President Kennedy’s life mirrored several things about President Lincoln’s life.

  • Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.  John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.
  • Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.  John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.
  • The names Lincoln and Kennedy each contain seven letters.
  • Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.
  • Both wives lost their children while living in the White House.
  • Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
  • Both were shot in the head.
  • Lincoln’s secretary, Kennedy, warned him not to go to the theatre.  Kennedy’s secretary, Lincoln, warned him not to go to Dallas.
  • Both were assassinated by Southerners.
  • Both were succeeded by Southerners.
  • Both successors were named Johnson.
  • Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.  Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.
  • John Wilkes Booth was born in 1839.  Lee Harvey Oswald was born in 1939.
  • Both assassins were known by their three names.
  • Both names are comprised of fifteen letters.
  • Booth ran from the theater and was caught in a warehouse.  Oswald ran from a warehouse and was caught in a theater.
  • Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials. (this list can be found on a variety of websites)

The AP US History students at North Cobb Christian School have read Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly off and on over the years as a part of their summer reading.  I’ve often heard the kids talking about the book and thought I should pick it up.  So…this weekend, I did just that.  And I could hardly put it down.  O’Reilly did fantastic job tracing the variety of storylines that were all taking place at the same time within both the Kennedy and Oswald families.  I am preparing to lead a mission trip to Cuba in a few weeks and really appreciated the further explanation of what was going on behind the scenes with the Bay of Pigs disaster and the Cuban missile crisis.

This is a great book for anyone that enjoys history and learning more about the politics and patriotism tied to the life of President John F. Kennedy.

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