Friday, October 25, 2013

JFK's Last Hundred Days by Thurston Clarke (audio)




JFK's Last Hundred Days: The Transformation of a Man and the Emergence of a Great President
by Thurston Clarke
Narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner
Penguin Audio, 2013
14 hours and 48 minutes
source: review copy from publisher

Motivation: a long-standing fascination with the Kennedy family

One sentence summary (from goodreads):
A revelatory, minute-by-minute account of JFK’s last hundred days that asks what might have been.

My thoughts:
Where were you on 11/22/63? If you're over fifty, chances are you have both an answer and a story to go with it. As we approach the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination, they are bound to be shared. Historians, too, are re-examining many aspects of that tragic time and, naturally, we're seeing a  long list of new Kennedy books being published.

What makes Clarke's book both different and effective is its structure. He begins with Day 100 in August 1963 and moves forward through the fall counting down the days, chronicling Kennedy's activities, meetings, and personal life. The reader cannot help but feel an increasing sense of dread as the days tick away and the end approaches.

The book was fascinating and presents Kennedy in a very favorable light. One can't help but wonder what if...

A note on the audio production:
This was the first time I've listened to Malcolm Hillgartner and he was excellent. With a wide variety of accents, his voice lends itself very well to nonfiction. In fact, I'm currently listening to another of his narrations (The Patriarch  by David Nasaw).

As usual with nonfiction audiobooks, you'll want to visit your  library or bookstore to look at the photos Clarke has included with the text.

My rating:


19 comments:

  1. I have this audio so I'm happy to hear it's so good. I do remember Kennedy's assassination but don't remember exactly where I was since I was only 5 at the time.

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    1. Kathy - We must be the same age ;-)

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  2. Like Kathy, I'm glad this one delivered because I have the audio on my shelf (as well as The Patriarch). I'm not necessarily a JFK scholar but I've definitely read more than my share of books about him. I find that whole family fascinating, in a watching a train wreck in slow motion kind of way.

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    1. Sandy - This one actually made me tear up a time or two, especially when Jackie and JFK's son Patrick died. I'm far from a Kennedy scholar, but find the whole family fascinating. Sometime in the mid-late 90's we ran across JFK Jr. in Captiva, FL!

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  3. I was 4 1/2, but I don't remember this tragic event. You've made this book sound so compelling - both now and when we talked about it in person! I've put it on reserve...

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    1. Audrey - I hope you like it... will you read or listen? The Patriarch is just as intriguing.

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  4. JFK's death is one of my earliest memories, and I spent my childhood memorizing the images in the book The Torch is Passed. I think I would like this book a lot. Interestingly, Stephen King in 11/22/63 took a dark view of what would have happened if JFK had lived.

    Isn't it great to find a reader you like? The audio I'm listening to now, The Big Year, suffers from having a weak reader who makes everything the author wrote sound like a cliche.

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    1. JaneGS - I was planning to read 11/22/63 eventually, but it would be even better now that I'm in a Kennedy mode. Maybe I can squeeze it in for November.

      A good reader can make or break an audiobook! I'm even more impressed with Malcolm Hillgartner's narration of The Patriarch. He does a great Roosevelt and Churchill!

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  5. I remember the day as if it was yesterday. I was in 8th grade Math class. They held up the news until the very end of the day at school. I came home to find my mother huddled in a chair glued to the t.v. No one moved for a few days. I took the front page of the local newspaper, State Journal Lansing, Michigan and folded it up and put it in a book. I still have it 50 years later. This book sounds interesting. Everything about that family was fascinating. Rose Kennedy's biography (sorry can't remember name) was very good.

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    1. Pam - I was in kindergarten at the time. An older (2nd grade?) neighborhood boy walked me home that day and we found all the mothers in my living room glued to the TV and crying... will never forget that day! Will check into Rose's biography. I'm certain it must be fascinating.

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  6. It was three years before I was born but my dad had many books about him in his study during my childhood. What a fascinating political figure Kennedy was. This sounds like a good audio book!

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    1. Trish - I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the Kennedys!

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  7. John . F. Kennedy’s assassination happened 50 years ago and a majority of Americans do not believe The Warren Commission Report. After 50 years of denials, free the files.

    “Sunny Day in Dallas” – Gerry Segal
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRH7qTLzxvU

    http://www.gerrysegal.com

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  8. I'm older than you and do remember clearly that day. Like you, I tend to listen to nonfiction with a copy of the book in hand so I can look at the photos, maps, etc.

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    1. Beth F - I'm starting to use the audio/print combo even more for fiction now, too.

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  9. Sounds like a great book to pick up for my dad for Christmas. Although, I'd have to go with print for him (or Kindle). The benefit of gifting him this? He'd pass it along to me afterwards!

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    1. Lisa - That sounds perfect.. hope you both like it ;-)

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  10. Like you, I've always been fascinated by the Kennedy family, I wan't alive at the time, but like you, wonder 'what if?'

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    1. Stacy - This book certainly encourages the 'what if' thinking... so much might have been different!

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