Whether you think John F. Kennedy was a great president or just a guy
who enjoyed sultry birthday
serenades (see clip below), you have to admit
his hold on America’s cultural imagination is still powerful four
decades after his assassination. Two major new works of history tackle
the question and, predictably, come down on opposite sides of it. David
Talbot’s Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years offers new evidence furthering the great conspiracy theory, while Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy agrees with official history and the Warren Commission.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about these latest products of the
Kennedy industry is the fact that both books are taking advantage of
new media formats to combat the traditional problem with Big History
texts–weight. Bugliosi’s tome comes in at a back-wrenching 1,612
pages, so be thankful that his publishers included the many endnotes on
an accompanying CD. (You would be well-advised to save a few months and
read the New York Times review here.) Talbot’s Brothers is only a third as long, but that’s still almost 500 pages–so why not enjoy it as an eBook instead, or just check out the excerpt on Salon? Or take in its New York Times review here. If your eyes are tired already, rest assured that both authors also appeared on the Leonard Lopate show (Bugliosi mp3; Talbot mp3 ). And if you happen to live in the Bay area, you can go see Talbot will be in San Francisco promoting the book tomorrow, May 22.