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William Manchester Book Details JFK Death

Updated on November 25, 2013
Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

Barbara Anne Helberg is a Fiction freelancer, Internet writer, WordPress blogger, former Journalist, and a Famous Writers School graduate.

Gravesite of President John F. Kennedy, including the eternal flame, as photographed  in 1968.
Gravesite of President John F. Kennedy, including the eternal flame, as photographed in 1968. | Source

Death of A President

On this day in 1963, November 25, America laid its President John F. Kennedy to his final rest. Over the years, his gravesite with its eternal flame has become the resting place of many more of his family members.

But on November 25, 1963, the world was at his side as he was lowered into the ground, a victim of an assassin's bullet and a scene of sad chaos in Dallas, Texas. In those three days in Washington, D.C., America's capital embodied a most somber processional tribute that still lives in the hearts and minds of many citizens of the United States and of the world.

President Kennedy was waving happily to crowds of Dallas residents on November 22, 1963, as his motorcade traveled the sharp curve onto Elm Street, left around Dealey Plaza, in front of the Texas School Book Depository building. The tall, gray, multi-windowed building cuddled a sniper's nest on the sixth floor.

The President was fatally wounded and whisked off to Parkland Hospital, minutes away, where he was pronounced dead at 1 p.m.

Enter author William Manchester...

Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas

Dealey Plaza, Elm Street, Dallas, Texas:
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, 411 Elm Street, Dallas, Texas 75202, United States

get directions

The Presidential motorcade swept west under Stemmons Freeway toward Parkland Hospital after the shooting.

William Manchester's Interviews

On February 5, 1964, Manchester, who already had written of President Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, in his previous book, "Portrait of a President", was invited by the President's widow, Jacqueline, to explore the events of November,1963, in book form.

Mrs. Kennedy and Manchester agreed that the book would be Manchester's, no one else's.

And Manchester began his massive research. He ended with "18 volumes of transcribed interviews and 27 portfolios of documents", the material from which he wrote his book, according to his own report in his Foreward of "The Death of a President November 1963". Ending nearly three years of research, Manchester published his book in 1967 with Harper & Row Publishers, New York, Evanston, and London. It features exact timelines and maps of events described in text. It is a definitive epic of some of the worst hours and days in United States history.

Manchester's research extended to interviews with President Lyndon B. Johnson, who held the office of Vice-President previous to the shooting, and members of the Secret Service detachment who were on duty that day in Dallas, to persons on the street that witnessed the assassination, to Abraham Zapruder, who infamously home-filmed the event in innocent enthusiasm. He spoke with doctors and nurses and other personnel at Parkland Hospital. He tracked down the media reporters who had covered the President's trip to Dallas.

The only person who refused Manchester's invitation to be interviewed was the widow of Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged presidential assassin.

No one was able to speak with Oswald in Dallas other than police officers and gathered reporters following his arrest shortly after the fatal shooting of the President. By Sunday afternoon, two days later, Oswald was dead, also the ironic victim of an assassin. Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby escaped everyone's notice as he boldly approached Oswald in the garage of the Dallas jail where a nationally televised relocation of Oswald was going to take place. Ruby mortally wounded Oswald and was afterward thrown to the concrete floor and relieved of his weapon. In a later trial, Ruby was convicted of murdering Oswald, but the proceedings shed very little light on the assassination of President Kennedy.

Lone Gunman, Or Conspiracy?

Who do you think killed President John F. Kennedy?

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William Manchester's Research

Manchester left no crevice unexplored in his quest to write a clear testimony of what happened in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, when assassin's bullets cut down President Kennedy.

The writer even "crawled over the roof of the Texas School Book Depository and sat in Oswald's sixth floor perch," he reports in his book's Foreward.

What did Jacqueline Kennedy remember of the shooting and subsequent race to the hospital to save her husband? Manchester tells it all.

Why did the Secret Service agents attached to the motorcade encounter such confusion after shots were recognized as having been fired? Manchester reveals the protocol in such a situation.

The Forth Worth and Houston Presidential hotel suites, the Houston Coliseum, the Forth Worth parking lot and the ballroom, and every inch of the President's path trod previous to the shooting were combed and scrutinized by Manchester.

He talked with the President's taxi driver, looked at the notorious Grassy Knoll, retraced Oswald's steps before and following the assassination, including the exact spot where Oswald shot and killed Officer J.D. Tippit after having returned to his rooming house and leaving it again.

Why couldn't the FBI arrest an alleged Presidential killer? What was the route of the state funeral for JFK in Washington? Who attended? Who represented world governments? Why did a bullet that entered the bodies of two men show such startling lack of damage?

Manchester has all the answers in his stirring, novel-like account of that fateful day in Dallas and the next several days in Washington, November, 1963, as a nation was forced to say goodbye to a beloved leader.

This original 1967 edition may be searched on Amazon!
This original 1967 edition may be searched on Amazon! | Source


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    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      2 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @Mel Carriere...Happy to have your input on this blog! Thank you!

      These Presidential assassinations always hold more truths than we ever uncover. Nothing revealed in the investigation of Lincoln's shooting was conclusive, either. How many people were involved; who knew what; etc.? Did Lincoln's killer, John Wilkes Booth, die in a barn fire? It's all clear as (Dr.) Mudd. If Oswald acted alone, why was he being "transferred" to another jail so sloppily that someone wearing a press pass in his hat-band could shoot him at point blank range?

      It's doubtful the CIA will release anything so dramatic as conclusive evidence that Oswald was a singular killer, or the opposite.

      Manchester's book answered questions, but over the ensuing years people and potential evidence around the case of President Kennedy's assassination quickly fell by the wayside, particularly before Louisiana District Attorney Jim Garrison opened his own investigation of the murder. Garrison's team was threatened, then discredited when they couldn't get a conviction on the key figure in their allegations.

      There are lots of things the public never will know. But Manchester's book is full of fascinating information.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      2 years ago from San Diego California

      I think Oswald acted alone, but I find it odd he traveled to Mexico City for meetings in the Soviet and Cuban embassies prior to the assassination. Hopefully this will be cleared up with information due to be released in 2017 by the CIA. It looks like a great read, I will keep it in mind.

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      3 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @Larry Rankin... Thanks for your interest.

      It is, indeed, a great read! And one that was overlooked as the years went by and new conspiracy theories surfaced: some so outrageous they were laughable.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Sounds like an interesting read. Great review.

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      5 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @teaches12345... Thank you for adding personal thoughts to this commentary!

      Yes, I think this book, which was written while things were still "hot" and persons still alive, would make a great gift for those who want to know the details. It's been lost in the wild theories that came about in later years. For me, it still stands as the definitive work of answers.

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      5 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @Mary McShane... Thanks! Appreciate the link!

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      5 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @MsDora... You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by!

      I'm not so sure about every report of the event having merit; there were so many way out there theories. But, Manchester researched everything while the trail was still searchable, at least! I believe his book is the most worthy.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for highlighting Manchester's work on this event which is still a tearjerker for many. Every report is worthy of consideration.

    • Mary McShane profile image

      Mary McShane 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

      I'm linking your hub to mine so visitors can continue reading here. Well done!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      The book would make a great gift for those who are interested in following the case of JFK. We may never know who was behind his murder, but the world lost a great president that day. Your post was very interesting and presented facts for consideration.

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      5 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @diogenes... Yes, even in sports -- Tiger Woods??

      The original volume of Manchester's book, as shown in my Hub, is available at Amazon. I checked on that; just couldn't bring it up in an Amazon module for my post.

    • diogenes profile image


      5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      I will try and find a copy. I agree about "women and powerful men," the old money/power aphrodisiac I suppose.


    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      5 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @diogenes... Thanks for commenting, and I appreciate your thoughts!

      The indiscretions of powerful men won't fade away any time soon; neither will the women who accept them!

      However, at the time of President Kennedy's term of office, his sideline activities weren't revealed, as recently testified to by his friend historian David McCullough, and they never interfered with his politics and conscientious leadership. His loss was heartbreaking to me and to our country.

      Manchester's "The Death of a President November 1963" is not a biography. It's a straight ahead look at an assassination and its aftermath, events that changed politics forever.

    • diogenes profile image


      5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      ps...I see Manchester passed away in 2004...B

    • diogenes profile image


      5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Manchester is a magisterial he still alive? I'll look on Google.

      We commemorated the anniversary of Kennedy's death extensively here in the UK last week, but I never really warmed to the Kennedy brothers...too much shameless womanising; Chapaquidick (spelling) and all the rest

      I met Ted Kennedy in Mexico City in the early nineties...



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