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End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  603 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
In End of Days, James L. Swanson, the New York Times bestselling author of Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer, brings to life the minute-by-minute details of the JFK assassination—from the Kennedys' arrival in Texas through the shooting in Dealey Plaza and the shocking aftermath that continues to reverberate in our national consciousness fifty years later.

The a
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published November 12th 2013 by William Morrow (first published October 29th 2013)
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Aaron Sharp
Nov 16, 2013 Aaron Sharp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Five things about End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson

1. As I writer I do not know how I would feel about someone saying this about me, but Swanson is the master of the assassination book. Given that I am somehow drawn to read about both Lincoln and Kennedy's assassinations I would think I would take it as a complement as a writer. I read Swanson's book on the Lincoln assassination a few years ago. Actually I read it when my wife and I were on our honeymoon. At t
Kressel Housman
When I began this book on the JFK assassination, I leaned more toward the conspiracy theories than the lone gunman theory. It’s not that I’m all that informed on any of the particular theories, but my reasoning was two-fold. First, revenge never struck me as a strong enough motive for Jack Ruby to have killed Oswald. Shutting him up seemed much more likely. Second – and I came to this conclusion in part from Swanson's previous book, Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer – since John Wil ...more
B. Rule
Nov 13, 2013 B. Rule rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An interesting story, ham-fistedly told. The account of JFK's assassination is inherently gripping and I've had a longstanding personal fascination with the subject. However, the author of this book tried my patience.

The book is written in a breathless, lurid tone, and more unforgivably, it is ridiculously pedantic and repetitive. The writing style is at roughly a sixth grade level, and he repeats things constantly. You will wonder if you lost your place on the page but nope, it's just Swanson
Meg Ulmes
Nov 24, 2013 Meg Ulmes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a Kennedy assassination junkie--I want to admit that up front. I read this book in a few hours and stayed up to 2 a.m. to do it. Swanson focuses on the lead-up to the assassination by alternating the lives of JFK and Oswald day by day. The details of the actual event and its aftermath are concrete and interesting. He only deals with the conspiracy theories at the very end with a few paragraphs. To me, the book through its clear narration of events, shows where the problems lie--the shots th ...more
Garry Wilmore
I rate this book as good, but not outstanding in any way. Four Days in November, by Vincent Bugliosi, relates the same story in far more detail, as well as in a less pedestrian style. From this book I learned little about the Kennedy assassination that I didn't already know, but I did discover at least one rather glaring historical error. The author twice mentions JFK's "flag-draped" casket being returned to Washington and carried off Air Force One when the Presidential jet landed at Andrews Air ...more
The assassination of President Kennedy has been covered from every angle by the press and in many books. This particular book presents the facts - well known and obscure - in a manner that makes the reader feel present in the moment. I was a self absorbed teenager on November 22nd, 1963. The full horror of the situation did not reveal itself to me until years later. How ironic and unjust that an inconsequential man with no accomplishments should end the life of a man who had dedicated his life t ...more
Sharon Watkins
A pedestrian narration of the events surrounding the assassination of JFK. It is superficial and unduly melodramatic and adds nothing to the discussion. I particularly object to Swanson's penchant for attributing thoughts and inner dialogue to people when he has absolutely no way of knowing what those individuals were thinking. If you want to read a thorough treatment of the assassination, read Manchester.
Dennis Goshorn
Anyone who knows me from the "old days"—IUP days—knows that I could always be called upon to espouse the latest theory on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In those days, books like Six Seconds in Dallas or They've Killed the President lined my book shelves. I've since come to the following conclusions about the assassination:

• Lee Harvey Oswald probably acted alone.
• There are no secrets in our society. If, in 50 years, no other gunman has been identified, then it's probably because none ex
Dec 04, 2013 Drtaxsacto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Swanson may be the world's first assassination writer. He wrote a couple of good books on the Lincoln assassination (Including Bloody Times - which discusses the events surrounding Lincoln's funeral and the chase for Jefferson Davis - also reviewed).

Swanson has a penchant for detail and in this book he looks in detail at the events leading up to Dallas and the events after. If you are looking for a conspiracy theorist - he is not for you. But if you want a clear and focussed discussion of the ev
This book was rushed into bookstores on November 13th, just nine days before the 50th Anniversary of that tragic day, and, unfortunately, it shows.

For the most part, the writing is flat, dull, and repetitive. It does manage, however, at the same time, to effectively track the last 48 hours, hour by hour, of both Kennedy and Oswald until that moment when their paths crossed on November 22nd, 1963 at 12:30 CST in Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Many eye witness quotes are used.

As a Baby Boomer, that week
Stephen Matlock
I thought I would like this more. Initially the author's style and pace kept me interested, but then I started to notice errors in word choice, spelling, grammar, and matters of fact.

Then the style got to me--there are simply too many times when the author makes it sound like this is a serialized novel, where I must wait breathlessly for the next chapter next month.

But this is all in one book, and I'm either going to read it, or not.

I finished it, and I will probably never read it again, only b
This was a fairly ordinary read and did not really have anything new to say about the assassination of JFK. Basically it was a retelling of the events of 22/11/63 and the days that followed. There were a few new facts and interesting bits but nothing really earth shattering.
Cathy Brouwer
This book was easy to read, but the writing was low-level, sensational, and had way too much supposition for my taste. Good for delivering the basics on the Kennedy assassination, but a little too heavy-handed to be taken seriously.
Richard Brownell
Mar 17, 2016 Richard Brownell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I already know what you’re going to say. “Another book about the Kennedy assassination? What new could we possibly learn? What new half-baked conspiracy theory have we not heard?”

Well, cool your jets. Yes, this is another book about the Kennedy assassination, but it is not a conspiracy tome. In fact, End of Days is as straight-laced an account as your likely to get about the tragic events of November 22, 1963. It is a moment-by-moment chronicle that sticks to the facts of the matter, bringing to
Dec 26, 2014 Michael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps more than any other national tragedy in its history, America will never forget the day John F. Kennedy was struck down by an assassin’s bullets. Fifty years after it happened, James Swanson pieces together the days, months and years before and after the assassination, combining thriller fiction and journalism in the end of days and the death of Camelot.

With 299 sources, the factual credentials of End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy are beyond reproach. A half-century after
Jan 16, 2014 Nick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
End of Days is James L. Swanson's attempt at tackling modern history, meaning, it's his first nonfiction book that takes place outside of the 19th century, and does not focus on Abraham Lincoln. Instead, to honor the 50th anniversary (like so many other new books), Swanson has documented the assassination of our 36th President, John F. Kennedy. End of Days is not a book centered on conspiracy theories. As it states in the title, this text focuses on JFK's assassination, and the other principle f ...more
Feb 12, 2017 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
End of Days is a good first book to read about the assassination. Other reviewers have complained about the "pedestrian style," but that never struck me; the sentences and pacing are fine and the story is well-told. (I give three stars to any book that makes me nod and say, "Pretty good.") What's missing is Swanson's take on the events: he pieces everything together, but I kept wondering what he thought about things. (This is what happens when one reads Paul Johnson at the same time.) Plus, I wa ...more
Tom Gase
Nov 24, 2014 Tom Gase rated it it was amazing
This might be the best book I read in 2015. I've read about four or five books on JFK and this is by far the best one. From the author of the great book, Manhunt, comes a book chronicling the few days before John F. Kennedy visited Dallas in 1963 and a few days after. The book does not offer conspiracies or get too detailed. It just provides facts. It moves pretty quick and it's a book that is hard to put down. A lot of the events that occurred are just so impossible to believe, especially with ...more
When I heard James Swanson was writing a book about the Kennedy assassination, I was excited. I had read Manhunt (Swanson's book on Abraham Lincoln's assassination) and got totally sucked in to his minute-by-minute "you are there" writing style. Everyone knows how the Kennedy and Lincoln assassinations end - but Swanson is a master at injecting tension into the stories that we already know.

If only I hadn't read Manhunt first.

End of Days feels rushed, and in fact it likely was, being released jus
Jun 16, 2016 Commodore rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Serviceable, though tedious at times. Swanson excoriates journalists of the time for buying into and perpetuating the Kennedy myth, but he hardly has a cross word to say about the President himself. And he sort of attempts to get into Oswald's head the few days prior to the assassination, but can't seem to make any compelling points. "Perhaps he thought his... it seems maybe that..." I'm not sure I buy into any assassination theories, but it does seem very strange that nobody can dredge up even ...more
Jill Crosby
I loved Swanson's book on the hunt for Lincoln's murderer, JW Booth, and expected good things from his perspectives on the Kennedy Assassination. I was let down. The book is written at about a 6th grade reading level, and Swanson uses no means to hide his contempt for Oswald or Jack Ruby; neither does he miss an opportunity to gush over Jackie, her cultured outlooks, her fabulous sense of fashion. In describing the myth of Kennedy's Camelot, Swanson adds his own florid prose to the list of balla ...more
Feb 03, 2014 Bethany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 2013, there was much revisiting the Kennedy assassination in the fifty year anniversary. On the 22nd, I was glued to my JetBlue screen watching the History Channel on just about every detail that went into Camelot, JFK's Presidency and the assassination. So when I saw this book on the shelf, I decided I would see if the story rang true in text as much as it did on screen. James Swanson gave a thorough account of the event leading up to, at and after the assassination - there were many small d ...more
May 07, 2015 Jude rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've read a lot about the assassination or watched many of the documentaries, you're not going to learn much from "End of Days." I would recommend it as a good primer for those who are curious but are unread about the subject, because Swanson definitely hits the basics.

I also liked the narrator's style of delivery.

Here is something that Swanson said that I had never heard before that surprised me:

Kennedy allegedly said before his trip to Dallas: “We’re heading into nut country today. But J
This was a pretty decent book about JFK. Granted though this is the only one I have read. I learned some new things and got refreshed on things I already knew about his assassination. My biggest problem with the book is that it is just all the facts laid out with no answers to theories or questions. I think it would have been interesting to have a chapter or two to go over said theories. Also the speculation about Oswald's thoughts and actions were slightly annoying, they just felt out of place ...more
Eric Johnston
Sep 07, 2013 Eric Johnston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This works as an introduction to JFK assassination free of all the conspiracy BS, but overall there is nothing new here. That, combined with a few editing issues--frequent repetition (a couple of scenes are repeated almost word for word), a glaring contradiction (he mentions the ear-witnesses on the fifth floor knew immediately where the shots were coming from, but in the next paragraph he says they weren't sure at first), and a reference to a Michelangelo painting as a da Vinci one--keep me fro ...more
Nov 30, 2013 Matt rated it liked it
This was my introduction to the Kennedy Assassination outside of reading lurid conspiracy theories on the internet. As an introduction, it's very good but it read as if it was rushed to print (something I wouldn't doubt given the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination). Having read Swanson's Manhunt I was expecting another great book like that, but unfortunately End of Days comes up short when compared to Swanson's previous work on Lincoln.

The other criticisms levied against the work here r
Patrick Justo
Jun 01, 2014 Patrick Justo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This comes across as a young adult book on the assassination of John F Kennedy. Which is not a bad thing. There's at least two whole generations (I'm part of one of them) who were not alive when President Kennedy was killed, and one generation who have never known the Soviet Union or the Cold War, and what fear of them could lead to. for that reason, writing this book on such a simplistic level was probably a very good idea.

There's essentially nothing new in this book that hasn't been covered in
A detailed, but still quite readable, snapshot of the time. Not being a particular student of 1960s, many of the anecdotal facts were new and fascinating to me, like the origin of the "Camelot" mythology associated with the Kennedys' time in the White House.
Mark A Powell
Dec 28, 2013 Mark A Powell rated it liked it
Few moments in American history reverberate like the Kennedy assassination. Decades later, it remains vividly remembered—and contested. Swanson enters the fray by recounting events leading to and from Dealey Plaza. Swanson relies heavily on conjecture concerning Oswald’s motives and itinerary—of necessity since Oswald was silenced before admitting guilt or motive, but still speculative. Conspiracy theories are effectively ignored and the narrative needs sharpening, having likely been rushed to c ...more
Charles M.
James Swanson is at it again, as he decsribes in horrific detail the final days of Pres. John F. Kennedy, before he was fatally shot by Lee Harvey Oswald on Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. This book offers no conspiracy theories, but does reveal much never-before-told facts regarding Oswald, the assassination and its aftermath. Swanson is the author of the page turning "Manhunt" (which detailed the 12 day hunt for John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated Abraham Lincoln). This is yet another Swan ...more
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James Swanson is the Edgar Award-winning author of the New York Times bestseller Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer. Swanson has degrees in history from the University of Chicago, where he was a student of John Hope Franklin, and in law from the University of California, Los Angeles.

He has held a number of government and think-tank posts in Washington, D.C., including at the United St
More about James L. Swanson...

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