If you are the type of reader that really yearns for a good story build around true and actual facts, Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln by authors by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard are just the books for you. Both books will excite the reader from the Note to Readers section clear through to the end and the Afterword section.
Bill O’Reilly is somewhat of a controversial television talk show host and some may not want to read these books because of his history of commentary. That background should not prevent you from reading these two books because the reader will find no politics or undue commentary, just riveting storytelling.
The book on the assassination of John F. Kennedy is the book that will especially grab the interest of so many of the baby boomer generation. The generation lived through the ordeal and more than likely can remember where they were when they heard the news that Kennedy had been shot.
O’Reilly writes, “The truth about President Kennedy is sometimes gallant, and sometimes disturbing. The truth about how and why he was murdered is simply atrocious. But all Americans should know the story.”
The authors report intimate details about Kennedy’s presidency as well as untold details of his philandering while he continued to deeply love his wife, Jackie, and his two children. Just a few details that may surprise the reader include:
• President Kennedy kept a coconut paperweight on his desk in the Oval Office to remind him of his participation in rescuing fellow crew members in a patrol torpedo boat (PT) in 1943. It reminds the president he is lucky to be alive, “having cheated death three times in his short life.”
• The president’s dependency on his brother, Bobby Kennedy, which began early on in his presidency.
• JFK’s afternoon swims in the indoor pool at the White House. And, how many times he swam naked. Plus, he at times swam naked with staff members and members of the press, who also had to swim naked.
• Jackie Kennedy was a chain smoker and kept it hidden from the public.
• The number of women that JFK reportedly slept with while in the White House, including Marilyn Monroe.
The prologue is captivatingly written. The authors start with the oath of office and wraps details about Kennedy around the oath. They do the same in the prologue to the Lincoln book.
In the Lincoln book, the authors write about how Lincoln himself believed he would not survive his second term. He continually had thoughts and dreams of his own death. Both presidents suffered great loss of children during their time in office.
Both books give the readers an in-depth look at each assassin. The authors write about the man who killed Kennedy, “Oswald’s father died before he was born. His mother remarried and soon divorced. Marguerite Oswald has little money and moved young Lee frequently, traveling through Texas, New Orleans, and New York City. By the time he dropped out of high school to enlist in the Marines, Oswald had lived in 22 different addresses and attended twelve different schools.”
Neither book reads like a history book. Instead, they read like the true stories they are about events that changed America. The opening section of the Kennedy book compares commonalities between the two presidents, such as:
• Lincoln was first elected in 1860 while Kennedy’s win was in 1960.
• Both were killed on a Friday and in the presence of their wives.
• Successors to both men were named Johnson, Andrew Johnson born in 1808 and Lyndon Johnson born in 1908.
• Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846 and Kennedy was elected to the House in 1946.
I highly recommend both Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln to readers, both young and older. Each represents devastating events in American history. Both are stories that no American should forget.