“The Death of a President”

August 22, 2013

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It’s good to read an old book which you know nothing about. I picked up William Manchester’s “The Death of A President” at a local fayre for a pound.

It’s an incredibly detailed account of the few days around the Kennedy assination based on detailed interviews and contemporary documents and evidence evidence.

The book was published in 1967, before the shine had come off the romantic view of Kennedy and his Camelot. The modern reader may well be more cynical, but I was moved.

Conspiracy theories? These exist to give people comfort when the brutal, banal truth (a sociopathic loner got hold of a gun by mail order and in a town where quite a few people didn’t like the President got a lucky break and an easy shot) is too much to take.

More than seven hundred pages long, written in elegant prose, with long lists of names and lyrical code words for important people, things and places it reads like a fable, a myth, a chant or a holy book. The young, noble king cut down. The widow kneeling in his blood.

The events described took placed fifty years ago. They could have happened two thousand years ago. Or two thousand years from now. Or yesterday. Or tommorow.

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