San Antonio has the Alamo. Austin has the capital. Dallas has the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
I grew up in a suburb of Dallas; besides the eponymous TV show, the assassination of our 35th president is our biggest claim to “fame.” I’ve visited the 6th Floor museum on a couple field trips and seen my city’s stamp on history with my own eyes. While the museum has lost its sense of wonder for me, the assassination itself still interests me. I was a bit disappointed in Dear Mrs. Kennedy last year and sought out a book that better described those first few days. Bugliosi, the prosecuting attorney on the Manson case, has researched this book to the umpteenth degree (the bibliography is almost as long as the book). He creates a well rounded story that’s full of detail without creating the feeling you’re reading a textbook.
Our story begins on the morning of the Dallas motorcade and ends with the funerals of John F Kennedy, JD Tippit and Lee Harvey Oswald. Most of the action takes place outside of the Parkland hospital so I don’t know why they changed the book title from Four Days in November to Parkland when they made the movie (also, they made a movie?). There is a lot of time spent on finding Oswald, particularly focusing on JD Tippit’s pursuit that ended in his death, as well as the interviews conducted with Oswald before he was shot. You also get the perspective of Robert, Marina and Marguerite Oswald-Lee’s brother, wife and mother respectively- who had no knowledge of his plan to assasinate Kennedy.
I was most interested to read the parts about Jack Ruby, the man who shot Oswald, because he is the aspect I knew the least about. Ruby claimed he was so overcome by grief, as well as fear that if Oswald was put on trial Jackie Kennedy would have to come back to Dallas and relive the darkest day of her life in front of a jury, that he felt compelled to shoot Oswald. Ruby claimed the murder wasn’t premeditated, that he just took the opportunity when he was able to get into the basement without difficulty and he always carried his gun because he often carried large amounts of cash.
I think the reason I liked this was because Bugliosi wrote a straightforward “this is what happened” and none of the conspiracy scenarios were brought up. This was a very informative read and Bugliosi did a great job compiling new information about a subject that everyone knows. I really want to read his Helter Skelter now. Also, make sure you read the footnotes, there is a lot more detail and clarification.