November 22, 1963: The Kennedy Assassination
The most momentous event of the twentieth century - given the superb Stephen King treatment
The author writes that he initially had the idea for this book back in the nineteen seventies. This was because, as he explains, the events were too recent in everyone's minds. Understandably.
The vital question
What would you do? If it was within your power to turn the clock back and prevent the assassination, would you? If it were possible, and history could be changed, should we? Would you go back in time?
Time travel? Aw, come on....
There are few, if any, authors who could write believably and realistically about such a nebulous and, let's face it, sci-fi subject. Only, I think, Stephen King could achieve this. And he does it with style.
A perspective on history
One of the aspects of this book I found particularly interesting is that it shows history in a way most of us never knew. For example, Jake (the schoolteacher main character) spends several years in the past. He is only able to go back to 1958 so the book weaves its way and takes us through those years until 1963.
King describes the despair of the American population during the Cuban missile crisis. To Jake, and to me and many of us, that is just a blip in history - something we learned about at school. But many Americans truly thought that this was literally the end of the world. Indeed, Jake's girlfriend (yes, there is love interest) takes an almost lethal combination of sleeping pills and booze because she too is convinced that the world was about to end.
A difficult subject
Even today there is so much controversy about what really happened in Dallas on that November day in 1963. And as Jake finds in the book, the past resists change. History is portrayed almost as an entity which malevolently tries to stay the same. Every step of the way, Jake is hindered.
And he has his own agenda too. He is a schoolteacher, not a killer. Before he will act against Lee Harvey Oswald he has to be sure that he was acting alone. Immaculate research ensured that I learned a great deal from this book.
Despite the subject this is an enjoyable book to read - fun even. It's not all doom and gloom. Part of the fun is the way that Jake has to stay in character as his alter-ego, George Amberson. Imagine it. And yet his girlfriend Sadie is baffled by the way he calls a supermarket employee 'dude' and then there's the time he's happily singing as they are driving home - singing Honky Tonk Women, a song that wouldn't be released until 1969...
I have written about this book at more length here.
My well-read copy
See the images below. This will give you some idea of how many times I've read this book - it literally fell apart.
This book has every ingredient that a bestseller - which it is - requires. You'll love the characters, the story moves along at a great pace and the historical facts are incredibly well-researched.
Although this is a novel, you'll come away knowing a great deal more about the Kennedy assassination and about life in the nineteen fifties and early sixties.
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Listen to the author talk about this book
Do you remember?
They say that everyone who was alive on that day remembers where they were when they heard the news. Do you? Let me know in the comments below.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson