- Hardcover: 736 pages
- Publisher: Bbs Pub Corp (November 1, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0883659565
- ISBN-13: 978-0883659564
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 172 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #464,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Death of a President: November 20-November 25 Hardcover – November 1, 1996
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Suffice it to say, if you're conspiracy-minded the fact that Oswald is always considered the assassin without doubt or further consideration will leave a bad taste in your mouth, but given the Kennedy family's official acceptance of his guilt it's still the only volume about the assassination that will place you, a silent and invisible witness, inside the scene every step of the way.
I'd always been intrigued as to why the Kennedy family, particularly Jacqueline and Robert on her behalf, had such a problem with Manchester's account to go to incredible lengths to suppress if not disappear it altogether. On the one hand, given its intimate nature and Mrs. Kennedy's notorious demands for privacy, I can understand why she may have wanted certain things left out that perhaps she felt weren't anyone's business for fear of diluting her own haunted experience, or that compromised the President's legacy in some way.
On the other hand, it's a treasure of intrinsic historical quality that no one interested in Kennedy's assassination should leave unread. It's essential and important documentation of one of the most significant events of the 20th Century.
The author starts two days before Dallas with the President and First Lady throwing a cocktail party for the Supreme Court Judges. The author points out how party members danced and laughed in the East Room of the White House that night. Within 48 hours most of them would return to that same East Room to view the dead president's coffin lying in State. Manchester provides insider details as to why the trip to Texas was necessary and how many of the President's friends and cabinet members advised him not to go due to the hatred that was surrounding Texas and most notably Dallas. The Vice President, being a Texan, evidently couldn't settle State party disputes that were getting out of hand and putting a black eye on a possible 2nd term for the President. The author provides first person accounts of what they saw and heard at the time of the shooting. He also provides details as to what actually happened in Parkland upon arrival after the shooting. After the President is brought back to Washington the author then shifts the story to planning of the State funeral. I found it interesting that Bobby Kennedy and other State officials thought the casket should be left open while lying in State. It wasn't until Bobby viewed the President again in private that he advised against an open casket. The cosmetic appearance of the President made him appear to be "a wax figure". Manchester does go a little overboad with his descriptions of how other parts of the country were in mourning. Although very informative, after a few pages the point was made. The book is rather long with over 650 pages (paperback). However, if you understand the historical impact of the events which took place that weekend in Nov 1963, then you will find the answers to how the Arlington plot was selected, how the eternal flame was built, and how a State funeral was planned in 2 days, very interesting.
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