The assassination has inspired fiction by writers from Don DeLillo (Libra) to Stephen King (11/22/63). Now, two journalists take their turns.
Jim Lehrer, former anchor of PBS’s “NewsHour,” was a reporter at the Dallas Times Herald when JFK was killed. His questioning of a Secret Service agent about the use of the “bubble top” on the presidential limousine was the impetus for the novel Top Down. This slender volume begins like a detective story but becomes a character study of the emotional toll on individuals involved in a national tragedy. The characters include a guilt-ridden Secret Service agent who gave the order to remove the bubble top for the Dallas motorcade, his plucky daughter and a reporter clearly modeled on Lehrer (right down to the crew cut).
If Kennedy Lived, by political commentator Jeff Greenfield, has a cheeky tone and a scenario that begins with JFK recovering from the assassin’s bullet. He goes on to serve a second term; Lyndon Johnson resigns the vice presidency to curtail an investigation into his finances; both Bobby and Jackie seem to stand by their man. But increasingly, the media takes shots and the public is losing faith. Ah, politics.
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On a tragic anniversary, remembering the life and death of JFK.