Reading the Kennedys | Wyatt’s World

November 22 marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. There will be a range of TV specials remembering the day and likely plenty of magazine coverage as well. In the book world, a number of new titles coincide with the commemoration (see LJ‘s John F. Kennedy [1917–63]). Here are five noteworthy volumes offering a bit of everything for readers interested in the politics, the murder, and the Kennedy family.

  • JFK’s Last Hundred Days: The Transformation of a Man and the Emergence of a Great President by Thurston Clarke (Penguin Pr.). Mixing popular history with biography and politics, Clarke details the last months of Kennedy’s life—from the death of his young son to the country’s looming entanglements with Vietnam.
  • The Kennedy Years: A Memoir by Jacques Lowe (Rizzoli). For readers more interested in the family mystique than politics or conspiracy theories, suggest this collection of images gathered by Lowe, JFK’s official photographer. The volume includes never-before-published photos as well as iconic shots—such as daughter Caroline Kennedy chewing her mother Jackie’s pearls.
  • Dallas 1963 by Bill Minutaglio & Steven L. Davis (Twelve: Grand Central). Minutaglio and Davis explore the location and period of Kennedy’s assassination as well as its seething politics in this examination of the cultural and diplomatic atmosphere of Dallas during that fateful year.
  • The Kennedy Half Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy by Larry J. Sabato (Bloomsbury USA). This highly readable blend of history, politics, and assassination theory illuminates the many ways Kennedy’s legacy has shaped the policies of every U.S. president succeeding him.
  • End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson (Morrow). In this fascinating narrative, Swanson brings the elements of true crime and the best thrillers to his historically grounded and detailed re-creation of the days leading up to the shooting and the grim period that followed.
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Neal Wyatt About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt compiles LJ's online feature Wyatt's World and is the author of The Readers' Advisory Guide to Nonfiction (ALA Editions, 2007). She is a collection development and readers' advisory librarian from Virginia. Those interested in contributing to The Reader's Shelf should contact her directly at