So, last night National Geographic premiered Killing Kennedy, a movie somewhat based on the popular book written by Bill O’Reilly. I first saw a preview for the movie about a week ago and was definitely interested. I enjoyed watching it – although it wasn’t great, it definitely got me interested in reading the book! Isn’t that always the case?? Rob Lowe starring as JFK – seriously, 20 years ago no one could have predicted that! One of the only things that made this movie interesting, in my opinion, were the roles of Ginnifer Goodwin and Michelle Trachtenberg who played Jackie Kennedy and Marina Oswald. The movie took on the usual JFK – related topics – infidelity, the mafia, the Cuban missile crisis, Robert Kennedy serving as his attorney general and their close relationship, and the public’s fascination and adoration with him and his family.
O’Reilly has written a few books in the past couple of years, each “killing” an important figure; Jesus, Kennedy, Lincoln. Subjects and individuals who have been extensively studied, and whose deaths have been thoroughly analyzed. The interest and suspicion surrounding Kennedy’s assassination has never dissipated, even fifty years later, so it’s no wonder O’Reilly found a welcome audience. Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot was published first in October of 2012, Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever was released just a year before, and just this fall Killing Jesus: A History was released.
O’Reilly had written several books before taking on this genre, but with these three books he had a co-writer, Martin Dugard. O’Reilly actually has a degree in history, something I didn’t know before researching more about these books, so it’s no wonder he’d be interested in these topics. Killing Kennedy doesn’t seem to shed new light on the subject. Instead, it seems to put his assassination into a narrative, highlighting some of the lowest points of Kennedy’s political career. This of course plays up the many conspiracy theories, which is still so fascinating – especially to some who may know little about Kennedy’s death.
Why is O’Reilly so focused on the deaths of these three men? The titles of the books alone are attention grabbers. What explains their popularity? Maybe it’s because he’s bringing these topics to a new audience. Maybe it’s because O’Reilly himself is a successful author, and his popular show on Fox News. One of the only things I found interesting about the book was the introduction, where he explained his personal connection to Kennedy himself. “The assassination of JFK was somewhat personal for me. My maternal grandmother was born Winifred Kennedy, and my Irish-Catholic family had deep emotional ties to the young president and his family…Like most kids on Long Island, I didn’t care much about national politics. But I vividly remember pictures of JFK displayed in the homes of my relatives. To them, he was a saint. To me, he was a distant figure who died in a terrible way, his brain splattered all over the trunk of a car. The vision of his wife, Jacqueline, crawling onto the back of the limo in order to retrieve the president’s shattered skull has stayed with me always.”
Planning on reading this, or watching the TV movie?