KILLING KENNEDY – Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (2012)

Evidently, Bill O’Reilly loves writing about presidential assassinations.  And he’s actually very good at it.   One of the many strengths of Killing Lincoln was O’Reilly’s objectivity and lack of political banter.  The same holds true for his newest work, Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot.  Many reviewers will disagree and accuse O’Reilly of partisanship or naively embracing the “one killer” theory.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  Other reviews have a bone to pick with O’Reilly because he clearly lays out the amoral behavior of the former president.  Sometimes the facts hurt.  Nevertheless, Killing Kennedy gives readers a front row seat to the events of the 60’s that helped shape the American ethos.

Killing Kennedy is a bold reminder that strong leadership must be combined with strong ethics.  For a leader who lives a moral life but embraces a policy of appeasement (think Jimmy Carter) is marginalized from the start.  But a leader (like Kennedy) who leads with strength and conviction but fails in the area of personal ethics is equally marginalized.  Yet another reason to be thankful for Presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush – men who led from a position of strength and embraced strong ethical values.

Finally, this book reminded me about the importance of historical fiction (a genre that I formerly scoffed at).  Historical fiction may be the path that some students need to take in order to develop a hunger for history.  Killing Kennedy forges such a path and will likely lead many readers on a new historical  pilgrimage that will spark fresh discussion and revitalized insight.

4.5 stars

Highly recommended

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