Parkland by Vincent Bugliosi

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Parkland by Vincent Bugliosi

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Category: History
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An exhaustive look at what happened on the day of President Kennedy's assassination and the following three days. It might be a film tie-in but don't expect an easy read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 688 Date: October 2013
Publisher: W W Norton
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0393347333

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Parkland is not just a book about history but a book with a history. Vincent Bugliosi published Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 2007 with much of the book being based on his preparation for a mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald which was shown on British television. This book was an exhaustive look at what happened in Dallas and at subsequent events such as the trial of Jack Ruby and the conspiracy theories which have abounded in the intervening fifty years. Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy was published in June 2008 and is - as the title suggests - restricted to what happened on 22 November 1963 and the following three days. Parkland is the film tie-in version of that book.

Parkland is the hospital where the victim of a shooting was taken and worked on in Trauma Room 1 until such time as it was obvious that the man could not be saved. That man was President John F Kennedy and he had been shot as he rode in a motorcade through Dealey Plaza. Bugliosi gives a chronological view of what happened - it's almost minute by minute - beginning with the President rising on his final morning and going through until after his funeral - and that of Lee Harvey Oswald. It's not an easy read as you'll see what happened from the points of view of hundreds of different people involved in making split-second decisions whilst in shock.

There's no attempt here to debunk the conspiracy theories although it is made clear that Bugliosi is firmly of the opinion that Oswald was the man responsible. It's not a light-weight read either, with over fifteen hundred end notes and hundreds of footnotes. They're worth reading too as they often reach into events which fall outside the four-day time frame. It's just nicely this side of an academic text in that regard and in places it's harrowing - particularly when JFK is at Parkland and - surprisingly - when Oswald was shot. Bugliosi might have his views about his guilt, but he never loses his humanity.

Fifty years on I'm not certain that it matters whether Oswald acted alone or there was a conspiracy. The main movers in any conspiracy are likely to be history themselves now. Equally I'm not sure that JFK was - or had the potential to be - the great president that history has painted him, but exactly what happened that day still has a tremendous power to engage.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.

The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After by Steven M Gillon is an easier read, but it doesn't cover anything like as much ground.

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Booklists.jpg Parkland by Vincent Bugliosi is in the Top Ten Books on President John F Kennedy.


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