For octogenarians, it's probably the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. For thirty-somethings, it's 9/11. But for many in the baby boomer generation, the day seared into our brains is the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Most of us — yes, I am one of them — can tell you where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news. We remember watching the endless news coverage on old black-and-white televisions
This weekend, 50 years after that day, the baby boom generation is the primary target reader audience for the new book “Life: The Day Kennedy Died,” put together by the editors of Life magazine.
Since Nov. 22, 1963, we've grown somewhat accustomed to assassinations and murders. It's difficult to explain just how shocking Kennedy's death was to Americans. Paging through this book, the reader is reminded of a more innocent time. But nostalgia gives way to horrible true events.
In addition to looking at the culture of the early 1960s, the book takes us through the history of the Kennedy family, shows (for the first time in print) all the frames of the extraordinary film shot by Abraham Zapruder and its effect on his family, gives us insight into the Oswalds, looks at some of the conspiracy theories and finds out what some mostly famous people were doing and thinking when they heard the news.
The book is well worth its $50 price tag, and honestly should appeal to readers of all ages.
Here is a sampling of some of only a few of the other books published to commemorate the 50th anniversary:
» “A Cruel and Shocking Act,” by Philip Shenon, Henry Holt & Co., $32 — A more scholarly look at the various agencies and personalities charged with investigating the assassination, including the Warren Commission, written by a former New York Times reporter.
» “Dear Mrs. Kennedy,” edited by Jay Mulvaney and Paul De Angelis, St. Martin's Press, $13.99. Collection of letters sent to the grieving Jacqueline Kennedy, showing how people around the world felt and reached out to her. Moving reading.
» “The Accidental Victim: JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald and the Real Target in Dallas,” by James Reston Jr., Zola Books, $23.95. Maybe Kennedy wasn't the intended victim of Lee Harvey Oswald's bullet. Maybe Texas Gov. John Connally was supposed to die that day. Interesting idea.
» “Who Really Killed Kennedy?,” by Jerome R. Corsi, WND Books, $25.95. A continuation of the conspiracy theory, that Oswald could not have acted alone, that people high up in the government, business and the military had reason to want the president dead.
» “The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ,” by Roger Stone and Mike Colapietro, Skyhorse Publishing, $24.95. Another conspiracy theory but with a named culprit at its center — Lydon B. Johnson, the vice president who assumed the presidency after Kennedy's death.
» “The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination,” by Lamar Waldron, Counterpoint, $28. After many years of research, another account of the true reasons for Kennedy's death and who was responsible.
» “End of Days,” by James L. Swanson, William Morrow, $29.99. Going through the event, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. Edge-of-your-seat reading, even when you know the ending.