Martin Dugard and I were well pleased that millions of people read and enjoyed Killing Lincoln. We want to make history accessible to everyone. We want to tell readers exactly what happened and why, using a style that is entertaining as well as informative. After chronicling the last days of Abraham Lincoln, the progression to John Kennedy was a natural.
It has been widely pointed out that the two men had much in common. In fact, the parallels are amazing:
✦ Lincoln was first elected in 1860, Kennedy in 1960.
✦ Both were assassinated on a Friday, in the presence of their wives.
✦ Their successors were both southerners named Johnson who had served in the Senate.
✦ Andrew Johnson was born in 1808, Lyndon Johnson in 1908.
✦ Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846, while Kennedy was elected to the House in 1946.
✦ Both men suffered the death of children while in office.
✦ The assassin Booth shot inside a theater and fled into a storage facility, while the assassin Oswald shot from a storage facility and fled into a theater.
Back in 1963, few Americans understood how profoundly the assassination of JFK would change the country. These days, history is a difficult thing to impart, especially because of political agendas. In this book, we will try to cut through the fog and bring you the facts. Unfortunately, some of the facts are still not known. In our narrative, Martin Dugard and I go only as far as the evidence takes us. We are not conspiracy guys, although we do raise some questions about what is unknown and inconsistent.
However, before you proceed further, please know that this is a fact-based book and some of what you will read has never before been publicly stated.
The truth about President Kennedy is sometimes gallant, and sometimes disturbing. The truth about how and why he was murdered is simply atrocious. But all Americans should know the story.
It’s all here in this book. It is my special privilege to bring it to you.
Long Island, New York
More than a million readers have thrilled to Bill O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln, the page-turning work of nonfiction about the shocking assassination that changed the course of American history. Now the anchor of The O'Reilly Factor recounts in gripping detail the brutal murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy—and how a sequence of gunshots on a Dallas afternoon not only killed a beloved president but also sent the nation into the cataclysmic division of the Vietnam War and its culture-changing aftermath.
In January 1961, as the Cold War escalates, John F. Kennedy struggles to contain the growth of Communism while he learns the hardships, solitude, and temptations of what it means to be president of the United States. Along the way he acquires a number of formidable enemies, among them Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and Alan Dulles, director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In addition, powerful elements of organized crime have begun to talk about targeting the president and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
In the midst of a 1963 campaign trip to Texas, Kennedy is gunned down by an erratic young drifter named Lee Harvey Oswald. The former Marine Corps sharpshooter escapes the scene, only to be caught and shot dead while in police custody.
The events leading up to the most notorious crime of the twentieth century are almost as shocking as the assassination itself. Killing Kennedy chronicles both the heroism and deceit of Camelot, bringing history to life in ways that will profoundly move the reader. This may well be the most talked about book of the year.
Listen to an excerpt from the audiobook edition of Killing Kennedy
November 22, 1963
Texas School Book Depository, Dallas
Crowds of eager Dallas residents stand on the curb in front of the Texas School Book Depository. The president won’t pass by for three hours, but they’ve come early to get a good spot. Best of all, it looks like the sun might come out. Maybe they’ll get a glimpse of John F. Kennedy and Jackie after all.
Lee Harvey Oswald peers out a first-floor window of the depository building, assessing the president’s route by where the crowds stand. He can clearly see the corner of Elm and Houston, where John Kennedy’s limousine will make a slow left turn. This is important to Oswald. He’s selected a spot on the depository’s sixth floor as his sniper’s roost. The floor is dimly lit by bare 60-watt lightbulbs and is currently under renovation, and thus empty. Stacks of book boxes near the window overlooking Elm and Houston will form a natural hiding place, allowing Oswald to poke his rifle outside and sight the motorcade as it makes that deliberate turn. The marksman in Lee Harvey Oswald knows that he’ll have time for two shots, maybe even three if he works the bolt quickly enough.
But one should be all he needs.