Tag Archives: November 22 1963

In A Different Instant…

Consider deadlock on civil rights in 1964, followed by no further U.S. involvement in Vietnam after 1965. Suppose the vice president had been forced from office well before the next election, triggering the selection of his replacement.  And think about the first lady’s calculated next move after eight years in the White House.

If Kennedy LivedExactly fifty years since the assassination of President Kennedy, today marks not only a fitting remembrance of what was, but also a fascinating exploration of what might have been.  Aiding in this rich intellectual journey, author Jeff Greenfield has done it again, presenting us with his newest and well-timed work of alternate history, “If Kennedy Lived.”

It all comes down to one meteorological circumstance which ultimately changes everything, from split-second reactions to long-term policy decisions and every ironic turn of fate along the way. All the while, readers are invited via Mr. Greenfield’s plausible scenarios to ponder one alternative evolution of 1960s history, including the momentum of the growing counterculture and the administration’s tactics to quell certain scandal.  The ironies abound, including chuckle-inducing quotes from private citizen Richard Nixon and a young Al Gore, Jr., among numerous other key players who either emerge or disappear as alternate developments dictate.

Fifty years ago today the world changed in an instant.  Imagine, at least for this quick yet captivating read, if that instant had produced a different result, well beyond the immediate events of November 22, 1963.

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Posted by on November 22, 2013 in Books, Famous People, Presidential


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Questions & (The Wish For) Answers.

With the 50th anniversary upon us, all sorts of questions remain.  New and old, sensible and outlandish, each is propelled by a keen and unyielding fascination surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Now feeding our collective, unsatisfied appetite is a captivating series of National Geographic documentaries once again dissecting the already-dissected moments of November 22, 1963, including JFK: The Lost Bullet, The Lost JFK Tapes and JFK: The Final Hours.  Each of these productions turns out at least a few morsels of related and not-so-related facts that we might not have heard before but still find interesting.  (I for one never knew eight-year-old actor-to-be Bill Paxton saw and photographed the president in Fort Worth that morning.)

Then we have the newest and much-promoted dramatization of Jack & Jackie Kennedy’s presidential life and final moments together, in NGC’s film adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s novel Killing Kennedy.  While the often-predictable Rob Lowe manages to pull off a decent portrayal of JFK, Ginnifer Goodwin’s re-creation of the first lady comes across– to me at least– as weak and unconvincing.  (I’ve seen better “Jackies” over the years, thank you.)  Altogether, the apparently common sentiment holds its ground, that this movie tells us nothing new, and definitely nothing outside the boundaries of the official yet increasingly disputed lone gunman theory.

Nevertheless, Killing Kennedy is worth watching for the sake of another welcome trip along that same old path of nostalgia that most Americans have traveled once, twice or 100 times over the past half century.  The “newest” element to this so-called bland and unimaginative account comes in the powerful portrayal of         Lee Harvey Oswald, played by the talented Will Rothhaar.  In my initial opinion, he carries this film.

Watch and consider for yourself.  Take in the sprinklings of history atop everything you no doubt already know. And watch the documentaries first, for this is where the real quenching of our fascination lies after all, even as all those questions– under whatever descriptor they fall– stack up faster than they might ever have answers.


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“Oh, Mr. Hill…”

A Recommended Read

A Recommended Read

Through his humble and straightforward narrative style, I can hear her breathy voice calling his name, be it in amusement, annoyance, or a unique combination of the two.  The deeply personal recounting of so many private yet fascinating moments yields a refreshing portrait of a woman subjected to so many portraits– in this case one without drama, sensation or agenda. Clint Hill takes us, his readers, on a one-on-one historical journey that only he can tell.  And though “that day” came more than a decade before my birth, his frank and detailed words drew me in close enough to feel as if I were right there alongside him on November 22, 1963.

For all that’s been written about First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy over the past half century, only the U.S. Secret Service Agent assigned to her detail holds the otherwise unrecorded memories to write as he does.  And Mr. Hill writes well in “Mrs. Kennedy and Me,” despite a few cases of grammatical usage that his proofreader apparently missed.  She returns to life throughout these pages as calculating yet reasonable, demanding yet understanding, mischievous yet respectful– and the descriptors can easily go on.  As her voice speaks through the pages, above all else I imagine her picking up a copy from beyond, glancing at it with a stunned yet captivated expression, and in disbelief that yet another entire book has been written about her, immediately calling out, “Oh, Mr. Hill…”


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