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Kennedy's Last Days: The Assassination That Defined a Generation

de Bill O'Reilly

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1734155,640 (4.4)4
Biography & Autobiography. History. Nonfiction. HTML:

On a sunny day in Dallas, Texas, at the end of a campaign trip, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is assassinated by an angry, lonely drifter named Lee Harvey Oswald. The former Marine Corps sharpshooter escapes briefly, but is hunted down, captured, and then shot dead while in police custody.

Kennedy's Last Days is a gripping account of the events leading up to the most notorious crime of the twentieth century. Author Bill O'Reilly vividly describes the Kennedy family's life in the public eye, the crises facing the president around the world and at home, the nation's growing fascination with their vigorous, youthful president, and finally, the shocking events leading up to his demise.

Adapted from Bill O'Reilly's best-selling historical thriller Killing Kennedy, with an unforgettable cast of characters, page-turning action, and art on every spread, Kennedy's Last Days is history that reads like a thriller. This exciting book will captivate adults and young readers alike.

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Although this book seems to have been written for middle school aged young adults I still found it very insightful, even learning a few things about the Kennedy era and possibly re-learning a few facts about him and the circumstances surrounding his assassination that I’ve forgotten.
Great pictures, interesting asides about the 60’s, the Kennedy family and key historical figures of the day offer a lot of fodder to inspire readers to dig deeper. Kennedy’s inaugural address is included in it’s entirety and, perhaps, will inspire those who are unfamiliar with it. ( )
  Carmenere | Nov 12, 2020 |
Kennedy’s Last Days: The Assassination That Defined a Generation by Bill O’Reilly is a photographic essay about Kennedy’s life as a politician and his assassination. The photographs used in this book are interrelated with the text, they provide an emotional and informational response from the reader, and allow the reader to see how John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy lived their lives through family and politics. The captions explain what the photographs are showing and the reader is able to get a personalized view of the subject of the photographic essay. The additional information such as: a photo of the Kennedy’s family tree, some facts about the early 1960s, a time line, etc. contribute to the overall effectiveness of the photographic essay. All of the features of the book work together as an integrated whole by tying all of the information together and providing additional information on the subject at hand.
Kennedy’s Last Days is also a document and a partial biography written through a four part, chapter-length format and is created around primary sources as well as some secondary sources that are used to depict John F. Kennedy’s life as a politician and his assassination during his presidency. The primary sources include quoted information, eyewitness accounts, and historical documents (John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, Investigating the Assassination: The Warren Commission, etc.) as explained in the bibliography and sources. The quoted materials used personalize the historical events and broaden the reader’s understanding of the information. The inclusion of the primary source material increases an objective perspective by providing an insight into what really occurred.

Accuracy:
Bill O’Reilly is a former high-school history teacher and author of several number one bestselling books, including Lincoln’s Last Days and Killing Kennedy. He is also the anchor of The O’Reilly Factor, the highest rated cable news show in the country. He is the winner of Press Club of Dallas Award for his reporting on the JFK assassination while at WFAA-TV. O’Reilly was a freshman in high school when President Kennedy was assassinated. He recalls where he was when he heard the news and how Americans were “glued to their television” after the assassination. However, it was not until college that O’Reilly became “interested in politics and in how great men like John Kennedy met the challenges that were thrown at them.”
The sources used in this book are both primary and secondary sources. Much of the primary material came from interviews and reporting that the author has done over the years. One interview conducted was with the former FBI agent, Richard Wiehl, who was assigned to investigate and debrief Marina Oswald after the shooting. There were a number of first-person manuscripts that provided details about meetings, conversations, and events, as well as numerous Internet videos of JFK’s speeches and television appearances. Copies of John F. Kennedy’s actual daily schedule, showing his precise location, the names of different people at various meetings, and the time each afternoon he slipped off to the pool or to “the Mansion” were provided to the author. Some primary source examples are the Warren Commission Report, President Kennedy’s Inaugural Speech, and the Zapruder Film which shows the actual assassination of President Kennedy (found on YouTube). Many of the secondary sources came from books, magazine articles, and websites such as The Cuban Missile Crisis: To the Brink of War by Paul J. Byrne.
The facts and opinions written in this book are distinct and clear. The author is presenting all factual information and places few, if any, opinions within this book. The author specifically states in the sources section, “Kennedy’s Last Days is completely a work of fiction. It’s all true. The actions of each individual and the events that took place really happened. The quotations are words people actually spoke” (p. 306). For example, the author does not place any opinion when speaking about Lee Harvey Oswald; the author is explaining what his life is like at a certain time, what he went through, and why he decided to assassinate John F. Kennedy. Throughout the text, the author provides no personal opinion on Lee Harvey Oswald, and is simply describing the facts. The author does not use any stereotypes, anthropomorphism, or teleology.

Content:
The scope of this book ranges from John F. Kennedy’s days as a skipper on the boat PT 109 in World War II, to his days as a politician, then to his assassination and burial. The depth of his experience on the boat PT 109 describes what occurred that night and how he saved his troops without skipping over any information. The information provided during his political reigns describes how he came into politics, the events that occurred leading up to his presidency as well as during his presidency, and his family life and background. The information provided for his assassination begins with the life of Lee Harvey Oswald and Kennedy’s last days leading up to the assassination. All of the information is deep, extensive, and well researched. The focus of the book is clearly on John F. Kennedy and his life in politics, with information provided on his background and family, as well as Lee Harvey Oswald. All information provided is needed for the reader to gather an understanding of who Kennedy was, who Oswald was, and why this assassination occurred.

Style:
The content in this book is carefully organized and ideas are logically ordered in that the way the information is given, coincides with what the author is talking about at that time. The book opens with President Kennedy being sworn in as the 35th president of the United States. The language is accessible for the target audience. Explanations and examples use appropriate analogies and figurative language (i.e. “Kennedy towers over the five-foot-six civil rights leader” (p. 133); “And so he stands toe-to-toe with Consul Eusebio Azcue…” (p. 154).).
The language used in this book is through a variety of sentence structure ranging among simple, compound, and complex sentences. These short sentences, “This is no ordinary inaugural address. This is a promise.” has an effective meaning to President Kennedy’s speech and plan for America. Another example of rhythmic prose is, “What he does not know is that he is on a collision course with evil—a course that will cut short the time he has to fulfill the promise he has just made” (p. 10). An example of vivid language is, “Oswald is a defector” (p. 11), and an example of precise language is, “Traveling at 1,904 feet per second, the 6.5-millimete round tears through the president’s trachea and then exits his body through a tight knot of his dark blue tie” (p. 205). The author provides interesting descriptions of the events during assassination and provides great detail into the assassination. In the opening chapter of the book, the author leads the reader in by using the statement, “The man with fewer than three years to live places his left hand on the Bible” (p. 3). There are no chapter titles; however there are four parts that include titles and most of the titles pique interest to the reader.
The tone of the author uses throughout this book is conversational. He is providing information on events and facts that have occurred during John F. Kennedy’s life. The author is also neutral in his writing where even though he is passionate, he is also objective throughout the book.

Organization:
The author somewhat uses enumeration in this book. There aren’t many subtopics, however every now and then the author will throw in information to “examine what they believe to be relevant parts of the whole.” For example, in chapter fifteen, the author is discussing what Jackie Kennedy and John Kennedy are doing on that day and then he shifts to Lee Harvey Oswald. For the most part, the book is in chronological order; the book begins on January 20, 1961 and ends in 1963 after President Kennedy’s assassination. However, there are a couple of chapters that jump back to Kennedy’s life in the army and what was occurring between 1944-1961. The narrative structure explains the conflict of Present Kennedy and the conflict of the Civil Rights Campaign and him winning over all Americans. There is no alphabetic structure used within this book.
The reference aids included in this book are four parts, but no chapters. There is a table of contents displaying the prologue, key players, and the four parts of the book, an epilogue, afterword, bibliography, sources, and index. The additional information provided in the contents include The Kennedy’s: A photo family tree, The Crew of USS PT-109 on Its Last Mission, John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, John and Jackie Kennedy: Some Famous and Interesting Words, The Zapruder Film, The Warren Commission, Some Facts about the Early 1960s, a Time Line, places to visit, and recommendations by the author.

Format:
The cover invites the reader in by providing a picture of Kennedy in his motorcade on the day of his death and by having the title displayed in big print and all capitalized. The cover suggests that the content is going to be serious and detailed. The book has endpages that displays a letter or some kind of writing written by John F. Kennedy himself, which adds to the content and appeal of the book.
The table of contents offers little insight into the organizational structure of the book. There are four parts to the book and although the parts outline what each part will be about, the contents does not show any chapters which gives the reader little insight into how the information is actually going to be given. The book has many chapters; each chapter titled with a specific date (month, day, year) and each chapter’s first sentence begins with bold font. The chapter titles or part titles do not aid the reader in locating content and they do not encourage the reader to ask questions or wonder about the content.
The book has an index and it is very detailed, highlighting topics about certain things. There is no glossary, pronunciation guide, or sidebars within this book. The book has a bibliography which lists sources that support readers’ efforts in conducting further research, as well as listing primary and secondary sources. The author includes notes that document his research process and identifies the books that he used as well as including recommendations for further research.
The book contains a prologue, which describes where the author was when he heard the news of the assassination, and the epilogue describes what the author did after college. The afterword explains Kennedy’s burial site, Jackie Kennedy after the assassination, Kennedy’s children’s lives, Lyndon B. Johnson, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Oswalds after the assassination. The visual displays in this book are photographs showing Kennedy’s family, his children, his wife, etc. and each picture goes along with the text and provides insight for the reader. Each photo has a caption near the picture to explain what the reader is actually looking at and where the photo was taken. The quality of the photos is good and clear and easily able to see what the photograph is showing. Many of the photos are in black and white, with a section in the middle of the book showing colored photos. There are maps located in this book showing the route Kennedy took on PT 109, the Bay of Pigs, and the route he took in Dallas on the day of his assassination. The maps have a key and scale, and help give the reader a visual sense to understanding the text. The maps and many photos cover an entire page; other photos take up a quarter or half of a page. There is also a time line of Kennedy’s life included at the end of the book.

Another book the University of New Orleans has in its collection on the assassination of Kennedy is The President Has Been Shot!: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy. After evaluating this book, I would suggest adding this book to UNO’s collection. Although there is another book about Kennedy’s assassination, this book provides more pictures and a better insight into the assassination as well as places to visit, further reading recommendations, and colored photographs in the middle of the book.
As a teacher, I would use this book in social studies, in a junior high to high school class. I would use this book as a text, having the students read a 5-8 chapters (depending on the length of the chapter) a night and then discussing, as a class, what they have read and what they have learned. I would also have students write a summary of what they read, an essay on how they felt about the information given, and/or what would they have done differently if they were President Kennedy or the Secret Service in charge of protecting the president.
If I did not use this book, I would possibly use End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James Swanson because he covers Kennedy’s health problems, his heroism in World War II, and his wedding to Jackie Bouvier. The book also highlights less remembered but critical facts surrounding Oswald’s action before and after the assassination. If I were to use this book, I would have students either write or verbally explain what they think Oswald was thinking at the time of the assassination and/or what Jackie Kennedy thought or felt after seeing her husband shot. Although conspiracies are not mentioned in his book, after reading it, I would explain to the students that there are many conspiracies out there about the assassination and what those conspiracies are. Then I would have students either come up with their own conspiracy or I would have students write about which conspiracy they believe to be true and why, or if they believe Oswald to be the real shooter and why. ( )
  ALGuerra | Mar 31, 2014 |
Kennedy's Last Days is a children's version of the events that lead up to JFK's death in Dallas. It's written with historical accuracy but readers similar to a thriller and is great for older children and young adults interested in history with excitement. Although this has more difficult content, I think it would be a great read for a younger child with strong reading skills.
  Tvickrey | Mar 11, 2014 |
55370000459025
  Bookman1954 | Oct 21, 2015 |
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Biography & Autobiography. History. Nonfiction. HTML:

On a sunny day in Dallas, Texas, at the end of a campaign trip, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is assassinated by an angry, lonely drifter named Lee Harvey Oswald. The former Marine Corps sharpshooter escapes briefly, but is hunted down, captured, and then shot dead while in police custody.

Kennedy's Last Days is a gripping account of the events leading up to the most notorious crime of the twentieth century. Author Bill O'Reilly vividly describes the Kennedy family's life in the public eye, the crises facing the president around the world and at home, the nation's growing fascination with their vigorous, youthful president, and finally, the shocking events leading up to his demise.

Adapted from Bill O'Reilly's best-selling historical thriller Killing Kennedy, with an unforgettable cast of characters, page-turning action, and art on every spread, Kennedy's Last Days is history that reads like a thriller. This exciting book will captivate adults and young readers alike.

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