From School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up–Swanson's title reads like a thriller, with intense pacing and an engaging narrative. The event is not depicted as dry, textbook history, but rather as a horrifying and shocking crime. Full- and double-page photographs of President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, and stills from the famous Zapruder film–which captured the assassination in real time–breathe emotion into the work. Kennedy's and Oswald's backgrounds are illuminated as the narrative descends toward their tragic connection. A well-illustrated map of Dealey Plaza detailing the President's route clarifies the position of relevant buildings and features at the time of the assassination. This book is graphic with respect to both images and verbage. Swanson provides a compelling case for Oswald as a lone gunman, arguing against the various and popular conspiracy theories. A diagram of the infamous “magic bullet” illustrates how a single bullet could cause multiple wounds for both JFK and Governor Connally. Despite the great number of books on Kennedy's assassination, this volume stands out for its gripping storytelling style and photographic documentation.–Jeffrey Meyer, Mount Pleasant Public Library, IAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Historian Swanson, who focused on Abraham Lincoln in Chasing Lincoln’s Killer (2009) and Bloody Times: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Manhunt for Jefferson Davis (2011), introduces the man who became the youngest president in American history. The narrative text highlights John F. Kennedy’s naval career, abbreviated presidential term, and his courtship and family life with Jacqueline Bouvier. Swanson balances this coverage of the former president with a profile of Lee Harvey Oswald as well as a dramatic account of Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963. Swanson makes clear that he agrees with the Warren Commission that Oswald was the lone gunman, and he spells out his disdain for conspiracy theories. Pair this title with O’Reilly’s Kennedy’s Last Days: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America (2012), which posits that there was a “mysterious figure who some thought was Oswald’s CIA handler.” Archival photographs, explicit diagrams of the assassination scene, source notes, and a bibliography that includes conspiracy-focused literature add further value to this strong addition to Kennedy titles. Grades 6-10. --Gail Bush