Saturday, September 19, 2015

The President Has Been Shot! by James Swanson

James Swanson has the knack for taking history and making it read like a thriller and this book is no exception.   Teens are not likely to be familiar with the specifics of Kennedy's assassination (in fact, I was in a classroom where a student asked who Kennedy was!) but Swanson does a great job of leading the reader through the events of the day.  He begins by introducing both Kennedy and his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald and painting a clear portrait of both men.  Kennedy's importance to the country and the climate of the United States at the time of his presidency is clear as well as the personal, immediate style he favored that made him a favorite but also such an easy target.  Oswald's troubled life is presented equally well but not in a sensational way leading the reader to the fateful events of the day.  Swanson also does a nice job of countering any opposing theories about assassination with compelling evidence and lots of pictures that keep you turning pages.  And his focus on how Jacqueline Kennedy reacted to the death of her husband while helping to carry out the transition of power is heartbreaking.  A great history book that won't make you think you're reading a history book.  There's something here to be learned by every reader at any age.