I never figured this column a vehicle onto the book review road, but I’ve rolled that way lately. A few months ago I raved about Bill O’Reilly’s "Killing Lincoln." It doubled as great history and great entertainment.
On the heels of that excellent work, "No Easy Day" hit the market. Given its pre-publication hype, I’d put in my advance order to avoid the possibility of government hindering its publication. That didn’t happen and my copy bounced off the UPS truck on the release date.
It was written by a Seal Team 6 member who participated in the Bin Laden kill. It was riveting. The author’s narrative style was bare-boned and efficient as would be expected compiled through military eyes.
The book’s overriding message was there are giants in our military watching out for little old me. The book reeked of a competence and dedication for which I’m thankful and truly awed.
Last week, I saw a blurb that the Hollywood version of that operation has been tweaked for release right before the election. The movie’s central star in the Bin Laden takedown is President Obama supported by a cast of thousands, among them Seal Team 6. Go figure.
I wonder if they’ve turned a nail-biter of a story into a political thumb-sucker. Perhaps they should’ve remade "Gone with the Wind" and have Rhett Butler end it with, "Frankly my dear, I’m voting for Barack Obama."
Returning to the library, O’Reilly’s "Lincoln" winner is now followed by another gem of the same caliber. I just finished "Killing Kennedy," and Bill has written another solid gold book.
Personally "Kennedy" is my favorite because I lived it, at least vicariously through Walter Cronkite, newspapers and magazines. I was 22 years old when JFK was assassinated.
I was leaning back with my feet on a desk when the bulletin spilled out of the radio. "The President has been shot in Dallas." I immediately walked around the building to tell George Britt the news.
I wasn’t initially too terribly concerned because they’d just said he’d been "shot" and presidents have the very best medical resources at hand. Maybe he’d suffered a "flesh wound" like cowboy stars did.
Nope. A short while later Cronkite announced he was dead. Aunt Pat called Mom from Texas, shocked like the rest of us. She hoped a Texan wasn’t involved.
Time passed in skips from one news report to the next one. Officer J.D. Tippet had been murdered. His killer had been arrested in a movie theater. Then the dots connected.
I saw Oswald in cuffs. I saw Dallas’ sheriff holding Oswald’s rifle overhead. I watched Jack Ruby lunge at Oswald and shoot him in the gut. I watched Kennedy’s funeral. I saw John-John salute.
O’Reilly’s book has assembled the fragments of my disjointed memories into a picture of laser clarity. Timelines and characters intersect during three minutes that changed history.
If you’re a reader, read this one. If you’re not a reader, get the audio.
Otis Gardner’s column appears here weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.