Friday, March 14, 2014

Top Down: A Novel of the Kennedy Assassination

Top Down: a Novel of the Kennedy Assassination
by Jim Lehrer

I was going to start this post by saying, "I'm not sure where my interest verging on obsession to the Kennedy assassination came from.", but that would be a lie. As far back as I can remember my father talked about November 22, 1963. At the time of the assassination my parents were attending North Texas State University (now University of North Texas) in Denton, about 40 miles north of Dallas. They did not travel into Dallas that fateful day. They did, however, drive into Irving to visit my maternal grandmother the following Sunday. This visit was particularly memorable because Oswald had just been shot by Jack Ruby and the news had just been released surrounding Lee Harvey Oswald's connection to Irving (where his wife Marina lived with her friend Ruth Paine). Evidently they ran up onto her front porch and started banging on the door, which scared my grandmother terribly.

I was not born at the time of the Kennedy assassination, but living my entire life in Dallas County, it is difficult not to know at least a little about the assassination. I was always fascinated by the triple underpass and the School Book Depository.

Top Down is another book hoping to achieve notoriety by being published in the year of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination. I have to say this book did not follow the path I thought it was going to based on the blurb. I'm not sure I agree with the statement, "a page-turning historical novel with the beating heart of a thriller," but it was a good read. Of all the fictional accounts of the assassination I have to say, Stephen King's 11/22/63 (even with all of the geographical mistakes) is still one of the best I've read. It better fulfilled my desire to know, "What if?".

Lehrer pulls from his own experience as a journalist covering Kennedy's visit to Dallas, but I wanted more. When the question is posed in the blurb, "...will it also change the course of history?" I assumed (my mistake because we all know what happens when we assume!) there would be more speculation as to what would have happened if the bubble top had remained on the limousine that doomed Thursday. I believe the storyline could have been better developed and not cut so short (the entire book is less than 190 pages). I liked the book and I would recommend it to others who are interested in this topic, but I would not add it to my must read book.

The next Kennedy related book on my list is Frame 232 by Wil Mara.

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