The Death of the President is a rich, deep full body emersion into a very specific two week window surrounding Kennedy’s assassination. Manchester wasThe 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 staggering. I read that he conducted over 1,000 in depth interviews. I can just imagine his rapid fire and relentless questions... And then what happened?...And immediately after that?... Who was on your far left?... Do you remember the song that was playing?...What shoes were you wearing that day? One famous selection suspends time and space and thin slices the exact moment of the President's Death. We are treated to a snap shot in time across the entire globe answering the bonding question of the decade, "Where were you when the President was shot?"
What makes this book a classic and a national treasure is not the long yarn but the tight weave. When Manchester consumed all he could, he became as close to omniscient as any man might be. With that amazing perception and awareness as background material, he then crafted his story. Manchester is of course famous (or infamous) for his outrageous detail, but he is equally gifted at editing and scripting riveting dialog. Additionally, his emotional insight and analogies are as fresh today as they were when he first wrote them in 1963. He brings his characters into vivid focus, reporting not just their actions, but their emotional intent (or heart felt reservation). An interesting side note - the Kennedy's who first authorized the unvarnished story, recanted Manchester's effort and stone walled the final draft in court. Manchester was clearly a fan of the family, but it did not stop him from reporting the painful and revealing truth. Perhaps he did too good a job?
If you ever wondered what it would be like to live in the early 60’s, running among the Kennedys, this book will take you there. At the time of JFK’s death, I was a chubby little one year old and my Dad was thirty. Somehow I feel like I know my Pop a little better after consuming this 50 year old epic. A gift from Mr. Manchester....more
Selby documents a stunning multimillion dollar jewel heist in the middle of Antwerp’s high security diamond capital. The midnight theft was the real “Selby documents a stunning multimillion dollar jewel heist in the middle of Antwerp’s high security diamond capital. The midnight theft was the real “Crime Of The Century.” Despite the sensation of the subject, Selby’s straight-forward writing was flat and stuffed with stiff descriptions like, “...an apparent victim of foul play.” Question: Who writes like that? Answer: A B-Level Crime TV Script Writer. Criticism aside, there is a special place in my heart for True Crime. The details of the gang heist carried me through several summer nights. My sophomoric reaction is best defended in a stand-up-bit from comedian Dane Cook. Dane bets the guys in his audience that he knows the one thing that they would all choose WAY-OVER SEX. “...Participate in a successfully BANK ROBBERY!!!” He goes on to comically act out the highlights from any one of a thousand heist movies, complete with the line, “Where’s Joey?... Where’s the frxing van?” Apparently, Selby is also in on the act....more
Hellhound on his trail. Sides does it again, his book reads like a CSI mystery! In choosing the assignation of Martin Luther King, Sides had an incredHellhound on his trail. Sides does it again, his book reads like a CSI mystery! In choosing the assignation of Martin Luther King, Sides had an incredible amount of historical documentation at his disposal. This massive body of evidence is the raw ingredients that Sides uses to fire-up a tight and fascinating thriller. Thanks to an unprecedented international investigation and the rich perspective of time, Sides stalks Earl Ray and MLK's every move. To this point, the title of Side’s book holds a second meaning. Hellhound opens with Earl Ray’s daring escape from prison a year before the assignation and it ends with Ray’s last escape attempt several years after the murder. The story in between is pretty incredible. Culturally, Hellhound also delivers the colorful and turbulent 60’s to our door. Through Side’s craft, we relive the American era of southern segregating from both sides, black and white. What a book, 5 stars!r...more
Carlo stole part of my life from me, he should go to jail with Gaspipe for the hours I lost. I blame the author and the sensational killer that he intCarlo stole part of my life from me, he should go to jail with Gaspipe for the hours I lost. I blame the author and the sensational killer that he interviewed (and OK... maybe I blame myself ... a little). His book represents mafia bravado at it most expected and therefore it’s most mundane. Yes, yes he serves up the sizzle and I suppose that is exactly why I morbidly wanted to read another true crime NY Mafia confession. Carlo details a life long murder spree for hire, a series of double crosses, money schemes, organized drug chaos and a pathetic string of crooked and bumbling FBI agents. It is so one dimensional that smack in the middle of a bloody torture scene I caught myself flipping forward to see how long the chapter might be. Who does that? Note to one’s self: Remember the name “Carlo” and keep his pop trash off your shelf (if you can resist the primal male impulse.). 3/5/09....more
Manhunt was a true action chase scene from the beginning to the end. A marvelous fast paced, fact based account of Booth on the run before and after tManhunt was a true action chase scene from the beginning to the end. A marvelous fast paced, fact based account of Booth on the run before and after the President’s assassination. For over two weeks Booth and his comrade eluded a frenzied national search for “the man who shot Abraham Lincoln.” Swanson brings the action to the pages with believable incites derived from extensive research. To flesh out such a action packed tale he needed to capture more than just the sequence of events. Swanson obviously filled in and fictionalized fact, a technique that I have often deplored. So I was surprised to find myself so accepting of Swanson’s account. Swanson offered a vivid slice of life snap shot of the personalities at play and projected a believable account of their motivations and dialog. ...more
A damning story of the Mormon religion as a whole, and more specifically, Mormon Fundamentalists. Krakauer delivers a compelling scandal surrounding tA damning story of the Mormon religion as a whole, and more specifically, Mormon Fundamentalists. Krakauer delivers a compelling scandal surrounding the twisted obsession of one family that believed they were acting on God’s will in plotting a bizarre double murder. His outsider (and one-sided) perspective is razor sharp as he retells the founding and following of the Mormon Church. (04/04)....more
Picture a distant nerdy, young cousin at a family reunion. The one in the corner — butt white, wearing all black, nervously chain smoking. Everyone elPicture a distant nerdy, young cousin at a family reunion. The one in the corner — butt white, wearing all black, nervously chain smoking. Everyone else in your family is dressed in preppy kelley and fuchsia. You venture over to her, she is shy, intelligent, witty and heavily pierced. Your conversation stumbles on the macob and all of a sudden she lights up like a Vegas slot machine. She can’t stop talking about assassinations. Well... that is exactly what we have here in journal form. A young punk intellect that has a huge unabashed morbid slant on American history and a sarcastic and morbid sense of humor to boot. Vowell’s book reads like an easy-breezy American travel log... except that she is tracing Booth’s assassination escape route through Virginia to Dr. Mudd’s house, etc. As the book clipped along, I warmed to Ms. Vowel and her bent and funny ways. 3/29/07...more