Four e-book singles relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy have been published this fall, timed to the 50th anniversary of his murder. All four are exceptional examples of long-form journalism. To help readers wade through the offerings, we've produced this guide.
Dallas, November 22, 1963
Author: Robert Caro
Pub date: October 1, 2013
Page length: 47 pages
What it's about: An excerpt from The Passage of Power, Robert Caro's acclaimed 2012 long-form book about Lyndon Johnson. The e-book single focuses exclusively on the day of the assassination.
Exceptional aspect of the book: The incredible detail of events from that day, especially the re-creation of the shooting of Kennedy from Johnson's point-of-view. Surprising detail: The first phone call Lyndon Johnson made after JFK's assassination was to U.S. Attorney Robert Kennedy (JFK's younger brother, who hated Johnson). The purpose of the call was to secure his approval for being sworn in as President in Dallas instead of waiting until the plane returned to Washington. The call was made from Air Force One.
The Kennedy Baby: The Loss That Transformed JFK
Author: Steven Levingston
Pub date: October 23, 2013
Publisher: Diversion Books
Page length: 108 pages
What it's about: The Kennedy Baby focuses heavily on the summer of 1963 as Jackie labored with a difficult pregnancy that resulted in the birth of her youngest child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, who died after only 48 hours. It's a keyhole into a simpler White House world without the constant drumbeat of 24 hours cable news or the cacophonous noise of digital and social media.
What stayed with us after we finished the book: The air of tragic doom that hung over the Kennedy presidency from the August 1963 through his assassination a few months later. It's almost inconceivable to think that Jackie could have absorbed the loss of a baby and a husband within four short months. It's a thoroughly unique way to examine JFK's presidency in the months prior to his assassination.
Surprising detail: Soon after baby Patrick Kennedy died, while Jackie was recuperating in a New England hospital, JFK spent the night in his White House residence, with intern Mimi Beardsley. He did not have sex with her.
Seven Seconds: Memories of the JFK Assassination, the Tragedy That Changed America
Author: Holly Millea
Pub date: October 25
Page length: 47 pages
What it's about: Interviews with famous people who reveal where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated. The interviewees include Barbra Streisand, Jimmy Carter, director Milos Forman, Charlie Rose, fashion designer Betsey Johnson, artist Chuck Close, Dick Cavett and Diane Keaton.
What's exceptional: The sheer simplicity of the concept: Where were you when JFK was shot? It was a seminal moment for the baby boomer generation and it's one reason why the book has already become a Kindle Single best-seller.
Surprising detail: Robert Redford was in a New York City cab when he heard the news. He was so stunned he had the driver pull over so he could walk around Central Park to clear his head. Nonetheless, that night, he performed as the male lead in the Broadway production of Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park.
The Gunman and His Mother: Lee Harvey Oswald, Marguerite Oswald, and the Making of an Assassin
Author: Steven Beschloss
Pub date: November 4, 2013
Publisher: Media Wave
Page length: 65 pages
What it's about: The story focuses on the dysfunctional bond between Marguerite Oswald and her youngest, most troubled child Lee, who grew up without a father figure.
What's exceptional: Beschloss's fascinating portrait of Marguerite Oswald. While she didn't pull the trigger that awful day in Dealey Plaza, she played the critical role in the creation of Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin. She's the forgotten villain in this story.
Surprising detail: As a boy, Lee Harvey Oswald's favorite television program was I Led Three Lives. It was about an FBI agent who infiltrated the American Communist Party.