Module 7: The President Has Been Shot

Book Summary: This informational book overviews the life of John F. Kennedy. It starts with his life in the military, then covers major moments in his presidency. Finally, the author settles the bulk of the story on his final day and the events surrounding his assassination. Background information is split between focusing on the Kennedy’s and Lee Harvey Oswald. The reader gets a third-person omniscient point of view that tells what is happening to JFK, Jackie, and Oswald throughout the tragic event and the following days.

APA Reference of Book: Swanson, J.L. (2013). “The president has been shot!”: The assassination of john f. kennedy. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

Impressions: This book was an interesting read. Jackie’s side of the story and quotes about her reaction aren’t often told, and this book provided an explanation. I would have liked this book more if it was rooted more in fact. It had factual evidence, but, in the way it was written, it seemed as though 40% of the book contained fiction. There’s no way of knowing what actually happened unless you were there. The different points of view from Oswald to Zapruder to JFK to Jackie and others were nice but I would rather it didn’t try to follow and guess what those people were doing and thinking. It seemed built up for the purpose of drama and sensationalism, which made the historical information aspects of this book less prominent. Some of the descriptions were incredibly vivid, particularly the one describing Kennedy post assassination, and I felt the writer could have done without that and left it to the imagination of the reader. In each section were photographs of the individuals, and the back had maps and diagrams of Dallas and the route, along with photographs, and a bibliography and places to go for more information.

Professional Review: Swanson brings the same immediacy and thrillerlike tension he achieved in Chasing Lincoln’s Killer to this harrowing account of the Kennedy assassination (an adult version, End of Days, will be published later this year). As the subtitle suggests, Swanson concentrates on the buildup to and aftermath of the Dallas shooting on November 22, 1963. After a quick overview of Kennedy’s ascent to and first years in office (including the Bay of Pigs and the Space Race), he shifts between Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald in the days before and after the assassination. Swanson doesn’t avoid the horrific details of the shooting, and he’s open about the failings of well-meaning officials and staffers in the wake of the shooting. There’s no danger of uncovering any sympathy for Oswald, painted by Swanson as “a complaining, self-pitying, attention-seeking, temperamental, impoverished idealogue.” The book’s meticulous design incorporates numerous diagrams and b&w period photographs, and extensive source notes back up Swanson’s work. Even the simple decision to title the book’s chapters by date emphasizes how, in the span of just a few days, America changed irrevocably.”– Publisher’s Weekly

“The President Has Been Shot!”: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy [Review of the book “The President Has Been Shot!”: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy]. (2013, September 3). Publisher’s Weekly. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-545-49007-8

Library Uses: This book would be good in a library lesson about point of view, or comparing and contrasting novels based on historical events when putting this book against another informational about JFK.

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