Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Audio : Audio Book
Kennedy's Last Days: The Assasination that Defined a Generation

Kennedy's Last Days: The Assasination that Defined a Generation

Fall 2014 Audio Book
Ages: 10 - 18 yrs.
Producer: Macmillan Audio
CD Price: $19.99

This 4-CD youth audiobook adaptation of conservative radio talk-show host Bill O'Reilly's 2012 book "Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot" is a solid and surprisingly objective account of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the events leading up to it.

The author starts by speaking directly to his young audience about his personal memories of learning of the assassination while in a high school classroom-the kind of memory everyone who lived through that fateful day of November 22, 1963, has.

Using a present-tense narrative, O'Reilly then effectively positions readers inside the context of the times and makes the personalities and events feel real and immediate as today's news. Read by actor Edward Hermann, whose rich voice lends sophistication without over-dramatization, the narrative's short chapters are succinct, describing Kennedy's ascent from World War II PT Boat commander and war hero to president of the United States, as well as major events that occurred in his three years as president, from the Bay of Pigs to the Civil Rights Movement. O'Reilly also tells the story of the troubled adult life of Lee Harvey Oswald and his collision course with the president in Dallas.

Uncharacteristically, O'Reilly avoids controversy and even errs on the side of bland. He opts not to delve into Kennedy's philandering personal life and barely gives a nod to conspiracy theories, sticking to the Warren Commission Report "lone-gunman" version instead. In the end, this becomes an hour-by-hour chronicling of the day Kennedy died and what happened to Oswald and the nation thereafter. O'Reilly closes with a fair-minded evaluation of Kennedy's legacy.

For middle- and high-school school students, O'Reilly makes hearing history for 4.5 hours an easy and engaging experience, even if his by-the-book approach adds nothing new to what might be called the "sanctioned" history of Kennedy's assassination.

Don Oldenburg   ©2014 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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