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"The Summer of His Years"

  • Oct 2, 2012
It seems that every generation has one moment in time when the people can recall exactly where they were and what they were doing when some startling event occurred. For my parents' generation it was Pearl Harbor, and for my childrens' generation it was 9/11. For mine, of course, it's the early afternoon of November 22, 1963. I was in the second period of an extremely boring high school Physics class in my senior year when the loudspeaker crackled and the principal came on to tell us that the President had been shot.

Some things stay with you forever. To me it's the song, the title of which is the title of this review, that I heard that week on television on the show "That Was The Week That Was". Even after all of these years I can still recall all of the words, and can sing (quite badly) the melody.

Bill O'Reilly and his co-author have given us a worthy sequel to their best-selling "Killing Lincoln", and related the events around another horrid presidential assassination. It's more relevant because it is so much nearer to many of us than something that happened more than a century before.

As with the first book, the authors go into the backgrounds of both the killer and his victim. While I'm sure that there are a plethora of books that relate many of these facts, this book seems to have gotten together many of them in one place, and tell us, or at least tell me, many things about which I was unaware. Of course, the events are seared in the memory, but there are things that most of us probably did not know.

Kennedy's life is laid out in some detail, both the good and the bad, in what I thought was an evenhanded approach. Lately it seems that his reputation as a philanderer has stained his memory, but this book recounts all of the brave and honest things he did in his life, and in how he really tried to make the country a better place for all. Oswald's life is recounted also, and we see his miserable existence, and are given what the authors, at least, believe is his reason for his action.

There are no conspiracy theories scattered about in this book. The conclusion appears to be that Oswald acted alone. Whether that is correct I don't know, and none of us will probably ever know. I've been to Dealey Plaza and seen the "grassy knoll" of legend, and can't imagine how anyone could have fired from that spot without being seen by a multitude of spectators. The Plaza is a shrine to Kennedy, and the sixth floor window on the Texas Book Depository building is kept open, a chilling sight.

Those who are interested in history being delivered in a very readable way will like this book. Those who don't like the author for whatever reason will pan it, I'm sure, without even reading it. They should realize that Kennedy is presented in a very good light, and it just shows what this country lost when he died.

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About the reviewer
Frank J. Konopka ()
I'm a small town general practice attorney in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. Books are my passion, andI read as many of them asI can. Being the President of the local library board for over … more
About this product


Bill O'Reilly is the anchor of The O'Reilly Factor, the highest-rated cable news show in the country. He also writes a syndicated newspaper column and is the author of several number-one bestselling books.

Martin Dugard is the New York Times bestselling author of several books of history. His book Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone has been adapted into a History Channel special. He lives in Southern California with his wife and three sons.

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