Today marks 50 years since the assassination of our 35th president, John F. Kennedy. From the beginning of his political career JFK quickly brought a generation renewed hope for the future of their country and the world. Decades later we remain fascinated with this American icon, his family, and his vision. We wanted to give you a list of recently published books about JFK, his beloved Camelot, and his mysterious assassination.
By Jacques Lowe
Published on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and replete with many never-before-seen photographs, this posthumous memoir draws on previously unpublished oral histories, gallery talks, and speeches by Jacques Lowe, JFK’s official photographer. Jacques Lowe was the official photographer of John F. Kennedy’s pivotal 1960 campaign for the presidency as well as his personal photographer following his election, with unprecedented access to the President’s family and inner circle. Fifty years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, it is finally possible to publish Lowe’s own, never-before-revealed account of his experiences during the Camelot years, supplemented with previously unseen material from his private files, the Kennedy Archives, and a range of other sources. In both words and pictures, Lowe captures the charisma of Kennedy relaxing at home with Jackie and daughter Caroline, engaging with the public on the campaign trail, at work in the White House, and as a leader on the world stage. These photographs are an astonishing record of an era when political image-making was far less calculated than it is today.
Top Down: A Novel of the Kennedy Assassination
By Jim Lehrer
Lehrer’s new novel is about the secret service agent who made the decision to remove the bubble top from the parade car in which Kennedy was shot.
On November 22, 1963, Jack Gilmore was a young reporter sent to cover the assembly of the President’s motorcade, who asked a Secret Service agent if the bubbletop that had been put on top of the convertible in case of rain would be removed. And on November 22, 1963, Van Walters was the agent who made the call to take it off. In his twenty-first novel, Jim Lehrer follows Van, who has become so convinced that his decision is the one that lead to President Kennedy’s assassination that he has lost the will to live and is literally allowing the guilt to kill him, and Jack, who is enlisted by Van’s daughter, Marti to help prove once and for all what would have happened that day in 1963 if the bubbletop had stayed on.
Marina and Lee: The Tormented Love and Fatal Obsession Behind Lee Harvey Oswald’s Assassination of John F. Kennedy
By Priscilla Johnson McMillan
The inside story of Lee Harvey Oswald’s path to killing John. F. Kennedy. Reissued to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, Marina and Lee is an indispensable account of one of America’s most traumatic events, and a classic work of narrative history. In her meticulous, at times even moment by moment, account of Oswald’s progress toward the assassination, Priscilla Johnson McMillan takes us inside Oswald’s fevered mind and his manic marriage. When Marina, only a few weeks after giving birth to their second child, hears of Kennedy’s death and discovers that Lee’s rifle is missing from the garage where it was stored, she knows that her husband has killed the President.
McMillan came to the story with a unique knowledge of the two main characters. In the 1950s she had worked for Kennedy and had known him well for a time. Later, working in Moscow as a journalist, she interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald during his attempt to defect to the Soviet Union. When she heard his name again on November 22, 1963, she said, “My God! I know that boy!” Marina and Lee was written with the complete and exclusive cooperation of Oswald’s Russian-born wife, Marina Prusakova, whom McMillan debriefed for seven months in the immediate aftermath of the President’s assassination and her husband’s nationally televised execution at the hands of Jack Ruby.
The truth is far more compelling, and unsettling, than the most imaginative conspiracy theory. Marina and Lee is a human drama that is outrageous, heartbreaking, tragic, fascinating…and real.
Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House
By Sally Bedell Smith
Smith takes us inside the Kennedy White House with unparalleled access and insight. Having interviewed scores of Kennedy intimates, including many who have never spoken before, and drawing on letters and personal papers made available for the first time, Smith paints a richly detailed picture of the personal relationships behind the high purpose and poiltical drama of the twentieth century’s most storied presidency.
At the dawn of the 1960s, a forty-three-year-old president and his thirty-one-year-old first lady – the youngest couple ever to occupy the White House – captivated the world with their easy elegance and their cool conviction that anything was possible. Jack and Jackie Kennedy gathered around them an intensely loyal and brillant coterie of intellectuals, journalists, diplomats, international jet-setters and artists. Perhaps as never before, Washington was sharply divided between the “ins” and the “outs.”
In his public life, JFK created a New Frontier, stared down the Soviets, and devoted himself to his wife and children. As first lady, Jackie mesmerized foreign leaders and the American people with her style and sophistication, creating a White House renowned for its beauty and culture. Smith brilliantly recreates the glamorous pageant of the Kennedy years, as well as the daily texture of the Kennedys’ marriage, friendships, political associations, and, in Jack’s case, multiple love affairs.
Smith’s striking revelations include new information about what drew Jack to his numerous mistresses – and what effects the relationships ultimately had on the women; about the rivalries and resentments among Kennedy’s advisers; and about the poignant days before and after Kennedy’s assassination.
Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books
By William Kuhn
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis never wrote a memoir, but she told her life story and revealed herself in intimate ways through the nearly 100 books she brought into print during the last two decades of her life as an editor at Viking and Doubleday. Based on archives and interviews with Jackie’s authors, colleagues, and friends, Reading Jackie mines this significant period of her life to reveal both the serious and the mischievous woman underneath the glamorous public image.
The Kennedy Mystique: Creating Camelot
By Jon Goodman, Hugh Sidey, Letitia Baldridge, Robert Dallek and Barbara Baker Burrows
America’s endless fascination with Camelot has enshrined countess pictures of Jack and Jackie Kennedy, Caroline and John-John in our national iconography, but few books have focused on their instinctive grasp of the media’s visual magic. Now, in a volume that combines arresting photography and perceptive analysis, Camelot insiders and media experts tell the whole story of the “love affair” between the Kennedys and the camera-a far more complex and sophisticated relationship than we often suppose.
The Kennedy Mystique looks behind and beyond what first meets the eye, reminding readers that JFK and Jackie recognized and used the media’s power, and encouraged photographers to capture private moments as well as public events. Unique commentaries from Kennedy intimates and observers like Letitia Baldridge, Hugh Sidey and Robert Dallek provide rare perspective on the photographs as historical records, as image-management, and as symbols. Readers learn, for instance, that the heartwarming shots of Jack laughing with John one Halloween were spontaneous, but the famous “candids” of Jack and Jackie putting the children to bed were staged.
The Kennedy Mystique puts the carefully crafted vision of Camelot in context of early-’60s culture and history to show how JFK and Jackie turned photography, celebrity, and media savvy into a potent political tool-and left a visual legacy of irresistible and lasting appeal.