Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard have done it again! Killing Kennedy is a totally captivating book and one the reader will not want to put down. Written like a fiction book, it is a page-turner from beginning to end.

If we were alive in the 1960’s, most of us remember exactly where we were when we received the news of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. It is one of those days in history when time stopped and life as we knew it would never be the same. The entire nation and much of the world mourned the loss of this young leader.

WhileKilling Kennedy is the story of John Kennedy’s life as a president and politician, it is also the story of his life as one of the sons of Joseph Kennedy whose dream it was to have a son become President of the United States. Joe Junior was handpicked by his father for that job, but when he died, the dream passed to John who was not prepared to take up the gauntlet.

To say that John Kennedy was young and inexperienced is an understatement. O’Reilly takes great care in guiding the reader through Kennedy’s first campaign and his years as president. We are able to observe Kennedy and it feels at times like we are in the room with him as he grapples with decisions about the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and his struggles to contain the growth of communism.

He is not prepared for the major decisions he was forced to make almost immediately upon taking office. He listens to his advisers and in doing so, makes some bad decisions. However, rather than blaming others, he owns those mistakes.

We come to understand Kennedy’s flaws as a man, but we also see his heroic acts that protect our nation and the world from other dangerous world leaders. We learn about his thoughts on Vietnam and come to understand how his death affected our large scale participation in that war that came later under the Johnson administration.

Through each of these national crises, the Civil Rights Movement, and Robert Kennedy’s crack down on organized crime, JFK acquires enemies. Even his Vice President is not a friend, but a bitter politician who feels displaced and no longer powerful in his home state or Washington, D.C. since taking his new office.

Throughout the book, the reader is always aware of where Lee Harvey Oswald is and what he’s doing. We see how events in his life lead him to Dallas, his job at the Texas School Book Depository, and his need to do something for which he will be remembered.

I have read biographies about both John and Robert Kennedy as well as books about their years in office. Killing Kennedy is a very readable book, telling the story without getting overly technical. While we feel the mood of the nation, we are absorbed in the facts, not the emotion.

At times, I felt the book over simplified the subject.

However, because I remember so much of this time in our history, perhaps I am being judgmental about the simplification. What I do know is that this is a great book for young adults who want to get a feel for this period in America’s history. I highly recommend this book to both adults and young adults.