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Critical Analysis of the Book: “Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot” by Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard

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Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard, “Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot”, New York, N.Y. : Henry Holt and Company, 2012, 336pp.

Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard wrote the book, Killing Kennedy in 2012 after the success of Killing Lincoln, their previous novel. They are co-authors of the Killing Series, which include Killing Jesus, Killing Patton, and Killing Reagan. Killing Kennedy was created to inform the readers of John F. Kennedy’s presidency and eventually his tragic fate on November 22, 1963. O’Reilly also believed that most history books were not interesting so he created Killing Kennedy to entertain and provide a different viewpoint on the history of Kennedy. Most of the sources used in the book were primary and secondary sources like manuscripts which helped to enrich the writing by O'Reilly. The information used in the book came from old interviews and law enforcement officers who were working during the time of the assassination. Richard Wiehl, an FBI Agent, who had to investigate Lee Harvey Oswald’s wife after the shooting provided new information.

Bill O'Reilly is an American journalist and former TV host for CBS and ABC News. He won several Emmy awards working as a news correspondent and eventually got to host his own program, The O’Reilly Factor. O’Reilly is known for his controversial statements and The Killing Series, in which two were turned into movies. He possesses a Master's degree in broadcasting journalism from Boston University and a Master's degree in public administration from Harvard University. He won an award for reporting on Kennedy's assassination while working on WFAA-TV. O'Reilly said that JFK's death was personal to him because his grandmother was born Winifred Kennedy and his family had connections to Kennedy and his family.

Martin Dugard is a New York Times bestselling author and co-writer of The Killing Series alongside O’Reilly. When Dugard starts to write a book he likes to immerse himself in his research to gain a better understanding. He wrote The Murder of King Tut and The Last Voyage of Columbus by exploring pharaoh tombs and traveling through Spain. He wrote his bestselling novel, Survivor, while living on the island of Pulau Tiga during the filming of Survivor. His writing has been featured in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, GQ and he received the Dallas Area Press Club's Katie Award for Best Magazine Sports Story award.

I think that the main argument is that there will never be another presidency like Kennedy’s. Camelot was created by Jackie Kennedy after the death of her husband and is a persistent theme in Killing Kennedy. She wanted the American people to remember Kennedy in a positive way and make sure he was not only known for his death. Mrs. Kennedy said that her husband was fond of the line “Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot.” from the Camelot soundtrack. (pg. 293). Kennedy had a seventy percent approval rating during the 1960s which is higher compared to other presidents. In the Note to Readers, the O'Reilly wrote, “Most Americans born before 1953 remember exactly where they were when they heard the news that JFK had been assassinated.” (pg. 1). Mrs. Kennedy told Life Magazine journalist, Theodore White, that 'There'll never be another Camelot.' (pg. 294) in her interview after the assassination. In Killing Kennedy, the first part of the book, Cheating Death, concentrates on Kennedy’s failure with the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and his relationship with others. Kennedy was disliked by some after the loss at the Bay of Pigs but was able to gain more supporters after the Cuban Missile Crisis. The novel introduces Lee Harvey Oswald, a former U.S. Marine and Communist with violent tendencies. Oswald was found to be “withdrawn” and “socially maladjusted” in his psych evaluation and in the book, it says “But none of this matters to Lee Harvey Oswald right now. He is worse than a failure; he is anonymous.” (pg. 160). In part two, The Curtain Falls, it focuses on Jackie’s third pregnancy and issues with Vietnam and civil rights in America. Part two also talks about how the Kennedy's were the ideal American family to the people. Throughout the book, you can see that it effectively parallels the life of Kennedy and the life of Oswald. Killing Kennedy is a fact-based book so the authors do not touch on the conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy’s assassination like the involvement of Oswald with the Cubans and Soviets but they do briefly mention the possibility of there being multiple gunmen. I do believe that O’Reilly may have altered some details that were in the novel because there is no way that he could tell the thoughts of Oswald without written proof. In the novel, it says “...But he willing to set aside his dark plan if Marina agreed to live with him.” (pg. 252).You can clearly see the impact of his death on the American people because some were shocked and upset while others were glad he was finally out of office. The book makes you dislike Oswald because it shows how loved and adored Kennedy was by the people. This tragedy sparked immediate action from the owner of a strip club, Jack Ruby. He considered himself a patriot and was extremely devastated when Kennedy was pronounced dead. So later that night, he arrived outside the jail and shot Oswald. Comment by BRYAUNA MATTHEWS:

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Killing Kennedy is organized in chronological order beginning with Kennedy’s days aboard the PT-109 in 1943 and ending with Jackie Kennedy trying to preserve his Camelot legacy. Most of the novel is about his presidency up until his assassination and individuals involved with Kennedy like Jackie, Bobby Kennedy, and Oswald. O’Reilly does a wonderful job explaining the history in a way that people with little to no knowledge about the 1960s could follow along. O’Reilly and Dugard included images of the Kennedy’s, Oswald, and diagrams so the readers could connect what they saw to what they read in the book.

Killing Kennedy does clarify the standard opinion that Oswald was the one to murder Kennedy. It explains in chapter twenty-two the thought process of Oswald on November 21, 1963:

Oswald need look no farther than the nearest window to see precisely where President Kennedy’s limousine will make a slow right turn from Main Street onto Houston, then an even slower left-hand turn onto Elm, where it will pass almost directly below the windows of the depository. (pg. 248)

The authors do not really give a specific reason for Oswald to want to murder Kennedy except that he's possibly bitter that Kennedy has a privileged life as the president. The novel does focus more on the life of Kennedy while also showing the lives of the people around him. I would recommend this book to people interested in learning more about John F. Kennedy in an entertaining and resourceful way. I would not recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn specific details about the assassination because they cover it in about two chapters and move on.

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Critical Analysis of the Book: “Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot” by Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/critical-analysis-of-the-book-killing-kennedy-the-end-of-camelot-by-bill-oreilly-martin-dugard/
“Critical Analysis of the Book: “Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot” by Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/critical-analysis-of-the-book-killing-kennedy-the-end-of-camelot-by-bill-oreilly-martin-dugard/
Critical Analysis of the Book: “Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot” by Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/critical-analysis-of-the-book-killing-kennedy-the-end-of-camelot-by-bill-oreilly-martin-dugard/> [Accessed 1 Mar. 2024].
Critical Analysis of the Book: “Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot” by Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2024 Mar 1]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/critical-analysis-of-the-book-killing-kennedy-the-end-of-camelot-by-bill-oreilly-martin-dugard/
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