|JFK in Dallas 1963|
It is a question that will haunt history forever but a fascinating new book by Stephen King takes a stab at what might have happened.
King's book 11/22/63 tells the story of a time traveller, Jake Epping, who is sent back in time to prevent the murder of Kennedy.
The theory is that Kennedy would have kept America out of Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved and the world would be a much better place.
No Kennedy assassination, no murder of RFK, no killing of Martin Luther King, no Black riots, etc,a kinder gentler America
It is fiction, of course,mixed with fact about the assassination and King portrays the world of Oswald, the communist sympathiser and of Dallas in 1963, with extraordinary insight .
It is 800 pages long but I found I could not put it down during the Thanksgiving weekend
Though Oswald was an avowed Cuban sympathiser he was also strangely mixed up with right wing groups, Russian expatriates and mafia types.
He was also just 22, a deeply weird guy who slept with his controlling mother until he was 11, lived in the Bronx for a time where he was diagnosed as having delusions of grandeur by a psychiatrist.
Most of the conspiracy theories arise because Oswald himself is such an insignificant figure who took down the most important man on earth. As King makes clear however, the evidence is overwhelming that he did just that acting on his own.
King does an amazing job pointing out just how much of a hothouse of hate on several different Dallas was on the eve of the Kennedy visit. There was deep racial tension, right wing and left wing feuding and a deep sense of America on the verge of a major breakdown.
All this is wonderfully drawn out and explained by King who also throws the reader a curve ball after (spoiler alert)..... the president's life is saved.
Instead of America the noble, it actually gets worse in a second Kennedy term, he is unable to drive through the civil rights legislation that Jonson was able to with his superior senate experience.
America collapses even worse than it actually did and saving Kennedy proves a disaster.
The book is a fascinating exercise in what might have been but will never be-- and more's the pity..