“Those who were alive in the fall of 1963 and were old enough then to remember it today shudder at the mere mention of the date.”James L. Swanson, End of Days
Title: End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
Author: James L. Swanson
Genres: Non-fiction, History, Politics, True Crime
Length: 9 hrs, 49 mins
Published: November 12th, 2013
My Rating: ★★★
Read: 11/16/2022 – 11/18/2022
I didn’t intentionally read this book so close to the anniversary of JFK’s assassination, but in doing so, the story hit deeper given the way it’s written.
Jumping back and forth between Oswald and the scene with Kennedy, End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy tells the story of the assassination from A to Z. I’ll say it’s more focused on Oswald and his motives, but we get a lot of Jackie’s perspective toward the end as well.
The writing was strong and brought me to tears a couple of times, making the tragedy feel so current. I imagine the impact would be even stronger for someone who was alive during that time. What I didn’t like was how vigorously it changed perspectives and that there were a lot of gaps in the chain of events. I also tend not to trust books that start and end by saying that this is the only possibility and you’re wrong to question otherwise. I’m not someone who makes it a mission to disprove the official story no matter my opinion on it, but I’m automatically going to be suspicious of any take that discourages further questions (the same goes for books on the conspiracy side). These comments gave the book a negative tone. Otherwise, it was an emotional, albeit bare-bones, take on 11/22/1963.
Likes & Dislikes:
What I liked:
- The storytelling. It was in the past tense, but had an urgency about it that made it feel like you were watching it unfold at the time it was happening.
- For lack of a better word, it was a more intimate take than most.
What I didn’t like:
- As I mentioned in my review, the negative tone that was given by insisting there is no other way events could have unfolded. I’m fine reading about the official story, but you can’t say ‘this is it’ and at the same time leave plot holes in the narrative which are the reason there is talk about conspiracy in the first place (such as the car being instantly cleaned and all evidence removed… most civilians know not to touch a crime scene, never mind any official). It also ended with a lot of maybes for someone sure of their story.
- As good as the storytelling was, it felt fictionalized in the sense thoughts were narrated. If we knew what Lee Harvey Oswald was thinking, there wouldn’t be any mystery.
I enjoyed this for what it was, however, it’s not one I feel I need to add to my physical bookshelf. There are more thorough accounts of the official story out there. One that comes to mind is Clint Hill’s Five Days in November.