Books on Kennedy's Assassination


I was five years old when JFK was assassinated. JFK is the first president I remember and his death was a shock to me. Even at that young age, I wasn't immune to the magic of the Kennedys—maybe I could relate to him because he had children around my age. I had one of those calendars with all the presidents around the edges hanging up in my room. I remember drawing Johnson in after Kennedy was killed.

I recently read four books that all bear on the Kennedy assassination. I didn't necessarily set out to study this, but I do like reading history and lately I've been reading a lot of 20th century history.

The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson IV by Robert Caro. This book, as the title suggests is more about Lyndon Johnson than Kennedy, but there's plenty of Kennedy in it, because it covers the time while Johnson was Vice President and describes his ascent to the presidency in some detail. The only problem is, if you like it, there are five more books in the series. But this book stands on it's own.

Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. If you've only known O'Reilly as a talk show host, you're missing out on some great writing. I've also read their Killing Lincoln and loved it. These books do a good job of telling an interesting story from the historical details.

The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy by David Nasaw. This book, of course, is about JFK's father. Still, it's a different perspective on JFK's coming to power and his assassination.

Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry. This is different from the previous three because it's fiction. The story is about a fictional CIA agent, Paul Christopher who uncovers the conspiracy to assassinate JFK too late to stop it. The conspiracy theory in the book is believable and different from the standard tripe. I liked the book enough that I've since read three more McCarry novels.

Which do I recommend? Well, all of them naturally. They are all well-written and captured me. But I was especially fond of Passage of Power. Caro spent his life documenting Johnson's and is a marvelous historian. You'll come away liking, hating, and, likely, respecting Johnson more. He was a complex and interesting man.