OH CAMELOT! (01/04/13)

Many of us are fascinated by the Kennedys although not so  fascinated with the most talked about commentator in the country, the infamous Bill O'Reilly. However, he's the author of several number one historical bestsellers and knows his stuff.

GARY S. is my go-to reviewer for all things non-fiction. He's a history buff and avid reader. GARY's reviews always attract commentary from blog readers and "Killing Kennedy" is definetly an attention-getter.

KILLING KENNEDY BY Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
Reviewed by Gary S.

Before I get into what I think of the book (ok, I loved it!), I wish I knew a little more about the world of publishing. I wonder why Bill O’Reilly’s name appears 10 times larger than his co-author, Martin Duggard. Is it because he is more famous, or because he contributed more to the story—or something else?
Bill O'Reilly Admiring His Best Friend!

In any case, Bill O’Reilly is the host of a popular show on Fox News that is more opinion based than hard news. I’m happy to say that the book ‘Killing Kennedy’ is very much fact based without any ‘by the way’ editorial commentary from the conservative author.

The co-author Martin Duggard is an accomplished non-fiction author—and I have enjoyed two of his books which I would highly recommend. The first is ‘Farther Than Any Man’ which tells the story of the British explorer James Cook. The second is ‘The Last Voyage of Columbus’ where we learn about the greatness and tragic failures of the famous explorer.

"Killing Kennedy" was everything I hoped it would be and more. I could not put it down until I was finished. What I loved was that I was actually able to experience what it was like to live in the era of ‘Camelot’. We even get to learn how the phrase ‘Camelot’ was attached to the Kennedy era.

The book does not break any new ground or reveal anything new about the assassination. O’Reilly and Duggard are very respectful to the reader in the opening notes by stating this very clearly. What we get is an elegantly told and well researched story of all the important events, the scandalous activities and of course the horrific assassination of the President.

The book was written in chronological order starting with JFK’s command of the famous PT boat in WWII. The 1960 Presidential campaign was easy to follow and did not dwell on the unimportant. We did learn (or I learned) that Jackie was an addicted cigarette smoker and was determined to keep it a secret. She was so determined that during the 1960 campaign, a staff assistant was hired to make sure a lit cigarette was ready at all times in case the future first lady needed a puff.

We learn a LOT about the scandalous activities—(and who doesn’t love that!!). I had no idea that JFK needed sex EVERY day—(apparently, in part due to the daily medical treatment he was receiving and in part to the Kennedy men being accustomed to open relationships).

It got so bad, that at one point the secret service was concerned that all the ‘activity’ in the white house was a national security risk.

There is a lot of emphasis on Marilyn Monroe, the mafia and his clandestine involvements. Jackie was aware and conveniently left the White House to allow Jack his privacy, while he made sure Jackie never caught him in the act. How thoughtful! Eventually, we learn that they truly did love each other. This was displayed after the stillbirth of their child (This is also when we start to learn a lot about Aristotle Onassis).

Lee Harvey Oswald is introduced into the story in snippets, so we can keep track of his happenings and motivations. The co-authors do a nice job of feeding us lots of ‘sugar’ (JFK, Jackie, Marilyn, sex etc), but the mood quickly changes as the story switches back and forth to Oswald.

Martin Dugard
Eventually, the co-authors give us a countdown (i.e. how many days to Dallas…and death) so we are always reminded of the gruesome outcome—and it does get gruesome. The story also details some bizarre events in the hospital and why the Dallas Police would not allow the secret service to take the dead body.

          A terrific book! Enjoy!





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  1. It is good to know that this book takes a level headed approach ton the Kennedy. That may be in of itself groundbreaking!

    I certainly do not agree with Bill O'Reilly on many issues. However, from my limited knowledge of his show, at least in comparison to other commentators these days he does not seem to be hater or too much of an extremist. There are political commentators that the name on a book would prevent me from reading.

  2. According to Gary S., he has read all of the historical books by Bill O'Reilly and has given them high praise. As obnoxious and controversial as O'Reilly can be on camera he has an intense interest in history and his books are always engaging, accurate and well written.
    I agree, there are some commentators that are definetly not on my TBR list...but may have to read this one by O'Reilly.