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The Death of a President: November 1963
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The Death of a President: November 1963

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  2,346 ratings  ·  101 reviews
The Death of a President, November 20-November 25, 1963 [Hardcover]
Hardcover, First Edition, 711 pages
Published 1967 by Harper & Row, Publishers
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In October 2009, Vanity Fair magazine published a cover story regarding Jackie Kennedy and her battle with writer William Manchester. After the assasination of her husband Jack Kennedy, rather than allow a maelstrom of books to appear, Jacqueline Kennedy along with Bobby Kennedy designated William Manchester as the "official" author of the story behind Kennedy's death. Manchester is also the author of "The Making of a President 1960", a book highly admired by Jack Kennedy and therefore a natural ...more
I’ve never been particularly interested in the Kennedys in general, John F. Kennedy in particular, or in wild conspiracy theories at all. I love history, to be sure, but history is broad, and there are only so many hours in a day that one can devote to this endeavor. Those hours have been drastically cut by the needs of my nine-month old. Thus, when I have to pick and choose, I will enthusiastically read the nth retelling of the battle of Antietam or the latest theory on Custer’s Last Stand rath ...more
As with most books I tend to read about the Kennedys, this one broke my heart. It's a long book, and since it only deals with the four days from the start of the Dallas trip on 21st November through to the state funeral on 25th November, the level of detail is exhaustive. It's not an intrusive or ghoulish book - the author was personally asked by Jackie to write it, and the tone is very respectful. The last quarter of the book is where it really shines - the description of the preparations for a ...more
Nancy Kennedy
In research for my work, I recently needed to obtain copies of the Look magazine issues that originally serialized this book. The articles about JFK's death made for fascinating reading, a true triumph of descriptive journalism. The details were telling and the depth truly astounding. It's this kind of reporting that makes me wistful for the heyday of journalism. Bloggers, schmoggers.
Pete daPixie
A book that I had to read and had to hunt down on Amazon to obtain. Published in 1967, William Manchester's 'The Death of a President' is a flawed historical account of November 20 to November 25 1963. For those readers old enough to recall those searing days, memories will be reignited. For those who came after Camelot, they will be transported back in time through it's yellowing pages, (760+), (350,000 words), to an epicentre of twentieth century political history.
In March 1964, Jacqueline Ken
James Oliver Burns
I found this Fascinating and had a very hard time putting it down to do things that had to be done. As a person who thought he knew all there was to know about the JFK assassination, while reading this book I discovered new and interesting facts that I didn't know or had forgotten. As I was reading this book, I started having flashbacks at the age of 7 in Brownfield TX, The announcement that JFK had been Assassinated in Dallas TX, My Teacher Mrs. Zimmerman crying and school being dismissed early ...more
Oct 17, 2012 Graceann rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Students of US History
Recommended to Graceann by: My husband
Shelves: history
In order to appreciate Death of a President, it must be read with an eye to the context of the time. It was one of the first books on the assassination, and the first to be written with use of extensive interviews of the First Lady, the Attorney General and countless other witnesses to the Kennedy Presidency, Assassination and the aftermath.

This is to say that when this book was released, Kennedy was bathed in the glow of martyrdom, and is even referred to as a martyr. His marriage to Mrs. Kenn
This book is nothing short of a masterpiece and Manchester was independently diligent in his efforts to research, compile, report, write, and then to have the full sweep of events recorded for the sake of history. This history that Manchester wrote on was written close to the time of the assassination and separate from the Warren Commission. The particular book I read was a loaner to me from a retired US Army Colonel whom I have had many discussions with over Manchester's many other works. Befor ...more
Truthfully I did not read this entire book. It's almost 700 pages and exhaustingly detailed. But I read enough to know that this is a great historical record of a tremendous week in American history. It's thorough, interesting, painful, and sometimes so political and raw that you can't believe it got published at all, especially with Jacqueline's blessing* and only 3 years after JFK's assassination. It's a gutsy book, it really is, and it also takes a strong stomach to read because my god, his d ...more
Susan Lee
I re-read this book once a year. Written in 1967, Manchester's book predates all of the 80s and 90s looney tunes who shoot up a restaurant, school or shopping mall, but his description of JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald resonates. Written decades before "going postal" became a synonym for a nutcase who just starts shooting, Manchester nails the psychology of a killer. What he says about Oswald is the same thing that is said about every spree killer and wannabee who makes the nightly news.

The book
This is a very long and detailed book describing the weekend of the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963. I read an interesting article in a recent Vanity Fair about the publication of the book. Since it had been sitting on my shelf for some years I got it down to leaf through and in no time I was hooked. I've read several books by Manchester and admire his writing. He always notes the telling details and the Kennedy book is chock full of them. Lots of things those of us watching TV or those ...more
Mary JL
Nov 23, 2009 Mary JL rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those interested in history
This is an extremely detailed history of the John F. Kennedy Assassination. Manchester is a skilled and thorough historian. It is packed with details and covers a very short span of time in exhansuting detail.

Although I did enjoy it, there are a few places where it is a bit dry---but also several very good and gripping descriptions. Since this is one of the early hsitories of the Kennedy assassination, it is a good starting point.

Manchester does seem to support the Warren Commission report, but
Ok, let me get something clear right away: this is one of my two favorite books OF ALL TIME!

I so wanted to read this last year in conjunction with the 50th anniversary and all that, but in the end my sanity won out and being on somewhat of a "Kennedy overload" grudgingly I gave up the thought of reading this masterwork yet again. Writing this the week of what will be the 51st anniversary, I guiltily ran my eyes over a few pages. Almost instantly I was whisked back to what, for my parents generat
John Daly
This past November marked the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination I was listening to NPR conducting an interview with Philip Shenon about his book A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination. During the interview Shenon mention the fact the William Manchester had access to the Warren Commission report before it was released to the public. He also discussed how Manchester spent more time interviewing Jackie Kennedy along with other principals then the Warre ...more
Dave Gaston
The Death of the President is a rich, deep full body emersion into a very specific two week window surrounding Kennedy’s assassination. Manchester was the authorized biographer and as such he was granted incredible early access to the full cast of family, politico and personal friends. He also had the doggedness to track down, time stamp, cross check and personally attempt to experience every living detail.

The amount of reference material (pre-google) that Manchester must have digested is just s
David Fox
Dec 24, 2013 David Fox rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: political & historical enthusiasts
Farewell to the President
I am writing this entry one week after the 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. The question asked of everyone who appears to be of a certain age is: “Where were you when JFK was assassinated? Do you remember?” My question is: “Is there anyone old enough to remember, who can’t?” My own memory remains vividly etched. I was in the 7th grade and it was lunch time at Montebello Junior High in Montebello, CA. Aimlessly wandering about waiting for classes to
William Manchester said he was requested by Jacqueline Kennedy to write Death of a President about the days before and after her husband's presidential assassination. I first became aware of this book by reading an article in Vanity Fair alleging that after it was written the Kennedy family disapproved of it and it only had a first printing. This October it was re-released in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of 11/22/1963. Manchester was meticulous in his research, interviews and detail. The ...more
Synopsis: Essentially this book spans from November 20, 1963 to November 25, 2963, with the 2-3 hours surrounding the death of President Kennedy taking up around 300 pages. About 6 months after JFK was assassinated, Jackie Kennedy asked William Manchester to write a definitive account of the assassination. Manchester was given exclusive access to President Johnson, Jackie Kennedy, the secret service and others who were tied to the tragedy.

My Review: This was one of the most fascinating books tha
Manchester is one of my favorite writers and this was my introduction to his work. Reading about Kennedy, whose death I still remember as I was a Freshman in high school sitting in geometry class when along with my classmates I was startled to hear the radio announcement over the school speaker system. This coming as an interruption to our day and so soon after his death was new experience, as was being let out of school early that day. This was history based on events through which I lived, abo ...more
Sep 04, 2009 Ira rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History
This book is a fascinating, highly detailed account of the hours leading up to JFK's death up until moments after RFK and Jackie leave his grave after his burial. Manchester is/was one our top historians (Churchill biographer) and Jackie asked him to write this account. His story was too much for her to bear though and she sued to prevent publication. She obviously lost and thank goodness for us. The book is a long one and as mentioned takes place over a short time span (like 24 it is in real ti ...more
Karen Batman
I think this might be my favorite book of all time -- read it years ago and again a few years ago. Such an interesting and personal insight into what was happening within the White House right after President's Kennedy's assassination. William Manchester was asked to write this book, to describe what was happening right at that moment in time by Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy.
Nathaniel Martin
This was a fascinating read! Published in 1967 it is the definitive account of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It was written at the request of Jacqueline Kennedy because her late husband was a fan of the historians scholarship. Manchester is a careful historian who conducted numerous interviews with eyewitnesses, secret service agents, and Mrs. Kennedy. Many of the interviews were even done before the Warren Commission conducted theirs. With great detail and masterful storytelli ...more
When I get desperate to have something to read (like when the library installs a new catalog and goes way beyond time) I grab something off my shelves. I remember liking this but that was quite awhile ago. If you want the story of the assassination, this book does it step by step. Jackie Kennedy asked Manchester to do it--so it's unusually complete. Unfortunately she or other family members decided they didn't like it (image is everything to Kennedys) and withdrew their support after publication ...more
Nov 04, 2014 Lori rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History readers
With November being the month of anniversary of JFK’s assassination I was greatly anticipating listening to this epic work by the late Great author William Manchester. This book has not been available of audio for quite sometime, I think since its 1967 publication, last year, the 50th anniversary of JFK’s untimely killing, was its first release in audio.
William Manchester is a biographer whose volumes on Winston Churchill are the best, in my humble opinion, ever written. His words flow like wat
The first 50 pages are a slog to get through. But after that, the next 600 are riveting stuff. It went through, in some cases minute by minute, what happened before, during and after (through the funeral) of the JFK assassination. After interviewing all the key players, Manchester was able to provide tremendous insights into all the drama that happened in Parkland hospital, the whitehouse, and during the funeral plans
I loved this one. Ironically I had just read Vol 4 of Robert Caro's LBJ biography where he too describes the events of Nov 20-25. Knowing of the friction between Robert Kennedy and LBJ and LBJ's combination of disdain and diffidence vis a vis the Eastern Establishment, I expected Manchester to treat LBJ differently, perhaps disparagingly, but that was not so. He didn't focus on LBJ much, except in the scenes at Parkland Hospital and on the plane home, but he recognized his good qualities and his ...more
Brad Lucht
One of the most difficult books I have read.

I kept putting it down after reading just a few papers, perhaps subconsciously hoping that this wasn't going to happen if I simply didn't read it.

The last portion was just as difficult, having to put the book down repeatedly because of the tears in my eyes.

Manchester did an unbelievable job documenting the few days before and after the assassination of President Kennedy.

What stands out most to me is the amount and intensity of blatant hatred that exis
Just two words to describe this book -- "utterly fascinating". I learned so much. But if you were born after 1963, I recommend having easy access to wikipedia while reading. So many names it's hard to keep track of who is who.
One of the first books to come out following the assassination of JFK - he had access to records no one else had - at the time - and extensive interviews with Jacqueline Kennedy.
Aug 15, 2014 Christine rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Christine by: Laurie Belin, Dave Holzinger
A comprehensive book covering the 4 days surrounding JFK's assassination. Written just 2 years after, it's a close perspective. Way more detail than I need, but quite fascinating. A few interesting points I learned:
Apparently the founding fathers did not intend the vice president to automatically become the president upon the president's death, he should assume the duties until an election could be held. But the first time, the VP just took the oath before (Monroe?)'s opinion was released. And
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William Raymond Manchester was an American author and biographer, notable as the bestselling author of 18 books that have been translated into 20 languages.He was awarded the National Humanities Medal and the Abraham Lincoln Literary Award.
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“Dear John—   It will be many years before you understand fully what a great man your father was. His loss is a deep personal tragedy for all of us, but I wanted you particularly to know that I share your grief—You can always be proud of him— Affectionately Lyndon B. Johnson The second was a little longer. Himself the father of two girls, he had been particularly fond of the President’s daughter. THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON Friday Night 7:30 November 22, 1963 Dearest Caroline—   Your father’s death has been a great tragedy for the Nation, as well as for you, and I wanted you to know how much my thoughts are of you at this time. He was a wise and devoted man. You can always be proud of what he did for his country— Affectionately Lyndon B. Johnson” 0 likes
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