Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Death of a President: November 1963” as Want to Read:
The Death of a President: November 1963
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Death of a President: November 1963

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  3,045 Ratings  ·  127 Reviews
The Death of a President, November 20-November 25, 1963 [Hardcover]
Hardcover, First Edition, 711 pages
Published 1967 by Harper & Row, Publishers
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Death of a President, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Death of a President

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it
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
Feb 03, 2010 Sean rated it it was amazing
Shelves: some-of-the-best
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
Mar 24, 2011 Caroline rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 03, 2012 Nancy Kennedy rated it it was amazing
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.
Mark Mortensen
Aug 24, 2016 Mark Mortensen rated it it was amazing
I classify this historical account as my second summer read as when I think of President Kennedy I also think of Cape Cod.

A few weeks ago our family arrived in Dallas, Texas to attend an extended family evening wedding. In the morning we visited a west end western apparel store where my younger son bought a fine pair of cowboy boots. With time still on our hands we could toast a few beers but with an open bar at Mickey Gilley’s Club ahead of us we needed to pace ourselves. While sitting on the
Jun 22, 2016 Gerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Mary JL
May 20, 2015 Mary JL rated it liked it
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 histories of the Kennedy assassination, it is a good starting point.

Manchester does seem to support the Warren Commission report, but
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
Mar 04, 2012 Samantha rated it really liked it
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
Sep 13, 2009 Ann rated it it was amazing
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
David Fox
Dec 24, 2013 David Fox rated it it was amazing
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
Brian Eshleman
Oct 06, 2016 Brian Eshleman rated it it was amazing
Five stars is an especially high threshold for this book. I know these events from other reading, and so I wasn't sure what another chronicler could add. Plus, I paid for this one after seriously considering some other choices, so buyer's remorse at any repeated or less than inspiring material was all but inevitable.

It was brilliant. I am in awe that a writer who could encompass the decades and the miles of Winston Churchill's impact could focus his intensity on a few days without overwhelming o
Oct 17, 2012 Graceann rated it really liked it
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
James Burns
Mar 08, 2015 James Burns rated it it was amazing
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
Susan Lee
Sep 09, 2012 Susan Lee rated it it was amazing
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
Steph (loves water)
Apr 03, 2016 Steph (loves water) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Magnificent. There are no other words. This is one of the best books I've ever read. I cried through much of it, which is why it took me so long to read.

I could not understand the mood in Dallas at the time. One of the more haunting facts was reading about school children in a wealthy suburb of Dallas cheering when told the President had been assassinated. What kind of people teach their children that kind of hate and intolerance?

So many other impressions from the book, I'll have to come back a
John Daly
Nov 09, 2014 John Daly rated it it was amazing
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
THIS AMAZING BOOK IS A REVELATION IN 2015 First, "spoiler alert": I am not a JFK conspiracy theorist, nor a JFK assassination fetishist. One book on the topic was enough for me years ago: "Case Closed", which was a detailed refutation of the many theories, and a defense of the Warren Report. The movie JFK was great cinema and pure fiction to my mind.

I revisited the topic with the book "A Cruel and Shocking Act", fascinated by the process of how the Warren Commission came into being and then pro
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
Jun 26, 2010 Tyler rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 20, 2013 Jan rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 23, 2011 James rated it it was amazing
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 it was amazing
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
Brad Lucht
Feb 05, 2014 Brad Lucht rated it it was amazing
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
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
Oct 17, 2012 Jeff rated it really liked it
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
Michinio Camorelli
ამ წიგნის ჩემი შეფასება არის ძალიან არაობიექტური!

1. წავიკითხე იმაზე გაცილებით ადრე, ვიდრე დოკუმენტურ პროზას უნდა კითხულობდეს ადამიანი
2. რა იყო ამერიკა, მაშინ ძალიან ბუნდოვნად მესმოდა, რადგან ვიყავი 13-15 წლის და საბჭოთა კავშირი სულ 3-4 წელი იყო რაც დაიშალა.
3. დიდი წიგნი იყო, არასათავგადასავლო და ვახტებოდი გვერდებს.

ეხლა რომ მახსენდება, მგონი ძალიან ობიექტურად და გასაგებად არის ყველაფერი აღწერილი და დასაბუთებული. ოდესმე კიდე შეიძლება წაკითხვა.
Karen Batman
May 19, 2014 Karen Batman rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 13, 2014 lindsay rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 27, 2009 Dick rated it really liked it
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Kennedy
  • Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson's Secret White House Tapes 1964-65
  • Robert Kennedy and His Times
  • High Treason: The Assassination of JFK & the Case for Conspiracy
  • The Making of the President 1960
  • President Kennedy: Profile of Power
  • JFK: The CIA, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy
  • Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years
  • Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy
  • JFK: Reckless Youth
  • Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy
  • The Warren Commission Report: The Official Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy
  • Kennedy and Nixon: The Rivalry That Shaped Postwar America
  • The Day Kennedy Was Shot
  • Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Ask Not: The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That Changed America
  • The Final Days
  • The Kennedy Detail: JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence
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.
More about William Manchester...

Share This Book

“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” 1 likes
More quotes…