Oconee Regional Library

The Day Kennedy Died

Book Review Thirty-Four

November 15, 2013

Friday, November 22, marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In remembrance of this historic event, Life Books has published an excellent compilation of accounts and rarely published photographs of the assassination and the life of President Kennedy. The volume also contains a reprint of the LIFE magazine that was sold on November 29, 1963. The book begins with a brief essay by the historian David McCullough who focuses on why Kennedy is still held in such high regard in spite of the short time he occupied the Oval Office. The Day Kennedy Died centers around the theme of "Where were you when you heard the news that the President had been shot?" The diversity of those interviewed provides insight into the culture of that time as well as the impact that John Kennedy had on their lives. Other notable material included are:

  • All 486 frames of the film of the assassination taken by Abraham Zapruder including the fatal shot that was originally not published in the LIFE magazine edition
  • An essay by Zapruder's granddaughter on how the film affected her father
  • The account on how LIFE was able to obtain the film even though LIFE was not the highest bidder
  • Photographs and stories of the Oswald family then and now
  • Theodore White's interview with Jackie Kennedy and how Camelot became attached to the Kennedy legend
  • A discussion of the various conspiracy theories
  • An update on how the city of Dallas remembers the assassination

The Day Kennedy Died might seem to some as just another volume to be added to the mass of those previously published. I have read and purchased several of these titles over the years. I chose to add it to my personal library and the Library's collection because of the unique and one of a kind material included.

One of my favorite descriptions of John F. Kennedy comes from What I Saw at the Revolution written by Peggy Noonan in a speech that then President Ronald Reagan gave at a fundraiser for the John F. Kennedy Library:

"And when he died, when that comet disappeared over the continent, a whole nation grieved and would not forget. A tailor in New York put a sign on the door-CLOSED DUE TO A DEATH IN THE FAMILY. The sadness was not confined to us. 'They cried the rain down that night,' said a journalist in Europe. They put his picture up in huts in Brazil and tents in the Congo, in offices in Dublin and Danzig. That was one of the things he did for his country, for when they honored him they were honoring someone essentially, quintessentially, completely American."

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