65 books like JFK and the Unspeakable

By James W. Douglass,

Here are 65 books that JFK and the Unspeakable fans have personally recommended if you like JFK and the Unspeakable. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of On the Trail of the Assassins: My Investigation and Prosecution of the Murder of President Kennedy

Kevin James Shay Author Of Death of the Rising Sun: A Search for Truth in the JFK Assassination

From my list on the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1978, I happened to be the only person present in the cramped office of my college newspaper in Texas, when Kennedy assassination eyewitness Bill Newman entered. It was during the midst of the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations’ investigation into the matter. Newman was standing no more than 15 feet from Kennedy when he was shot. His account intrigued me, sending me on a search that has yet to end. I witnessed Kennedy’s funeral in Washington, D.C., as a boy, grew up in Dallas, and even shared the same birthday with him. Several articles I wrote on the assassination and ensuing research have won awards, including a Best in Show Feature Writing Award from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association. I have written books on other topics, but this is the one that most consumed me.

Kevin's book list on the John F. Kennedy assassination

Kevin James Shay Why did Kevin love this book?

The late New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison pursued the only criminal case in this controversy that has tried someone for conspiracy to murder Kennedy in court. He faced death threats, prosecution, infiltration, dirty tricks, and more in the late 1960s. He details what he went through and why he mostly blamed U.S. intelligence officials and agents for what he called a “coup d’etat.” His book was a major basis for director Oliver Stone’s 1991 film, JFK, in which Garrison played a minor role as Justice Earl Warren.

By Jim Garrison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Trail of the Assassins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The book that inspired the movie JFK recounts Jim Garrison's attempt to solve the Kennedy assassination, and describes how Garrison was harrassed because of his allegations of government involvement in Kennedy's death.


Book cover of Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy

Kevin James Shay Author Of Death of the Rising Sun: A Search for Truth in the JFK Assassination

From my list on the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1978, I happened to be the only person present in the cramped office of my college newspaper in Texas, when Kennedy assassination eyewitness Bill Newman entered. It was during the midst of the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations’ investigation into the matter. Newman was standing no more than 15 feet from Kennedy when he was shot. His account intrigued me, sending me on a search that has yet to end. I witnessed Kennedy’s funeral in Washington, D.C., as a boy, grew up in Dallas, and even shared the same birthday with him. Several articles I wrote on the assassination and ensuing research have won awards, including a Best in Show Feature Writing Award from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association. I have written books on other topics, but this is the one that most consumed me.

Kevin's book list on the John F. Kennedy assassination

Kevin James Shay Why did Kevin love this book?

A veteran Texas journalist who started teaching a course on the assassination at UT-Arlington in 1976, Marrs saw his comprehensive work published a year after Garrison’s book. Stone also used Marrs’ book as a prime source for his movie. Unlike Garrison, Marrs steered clear of pinning the assassination on mostly one group, covering the alleged roles of organized crime, anti-Castro Cubans, the military-industrial complex, oilmen, bankers, political opponents, and more. Some 25 major publishers turn down Marrs’ manuscript, which became a best-seller, before Carroll & Graf accepted it. The work was one of the first to tie together the various alleged conspiratorial groups.

By Jim Marrs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crossfire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What really happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963? Was the assassination of John F. Kennedy simply the work of a warped, solitary young man, or was something more nefarious afoot? Pulling together a wealth of evidence, including rare photos, documents, and interviews, veteran Texas journalist Jim Marrs reveals the truth about that fateful day. Thoroughly revised and updated with the latest findings about the assassination, Crossfire is the most comprehensive, convincing explanation of how, why, and by whom our thirty-fifth president was killed.


Book cover of Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years

Kevin James Shay Author Of Death of the Rising Sun: A Search for Truth in the JFK Assassination

From my list on the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1978, I happened to be the only person present in the cramped office of my college newspaper in Texas, when Kennedy assassination eyewitness Bill Newman entered. It was during the midst of the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations’ investigation into the matter. Newman was standing no more than 15 feet from Kennedy when he was shot. His account intrigued me, sending me on a search that has yet to end. I witnessed Kennedy’s funeral in Washington, D.C., as a boy, grew up in Dallas, and even shared the same birthday with him. Several articles I wrote on the assassination and ensuing research have won awards, including a Best in Show Feature Writing Award from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association. I have written books on other topics, but this is the one that most consumed me.

Kevin's book list on the John F. Kennedy assassination

Kevin James Shay Why did Kevin love this book?

The founder of pioneering web magazine Salon, Talbot covers fresh ground in this book, documenting how Robert Kennedy secretly searched for the truth behind his brother’s murder before he was assassinated himself in 1968. Based on some 150 interviews with Kennedy relatives and administration insiders, the book strikes a good balance between presenting facts and writing in an interesting style that brings to life the political struggles of that turbulent period. Robert Kennedy suspected not only the CIA, but organized crime and anti-Castro Cuban exiles who supposedly worked together. Talbot’s work does an excellent job of showing the links and explaining why some of the same sources might have conspired against RFK.

By David Talbot,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brothers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For decades, books about John or Robert Kennedy have woven either a shimmering tale of Camelot gallantry or a tawdry story of runaway ambition and reckless personal behaviour. But the real story of the Kennedys in the 1960s has long been submerged - until now. In Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, David Talbot sheds a dramatic new light on the tumultuous inner life of the Kennedy presidency and its stunning aftermath. Talbot, the founder of Salon.com, has written a gripping political history that is sure to be one of the most talked-about books of the year. Brothers…


Book cover of Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery

Kevin James Shay Author Of Death of the Rising Sun: A Search for Truth in the JFK Assassination

From my list on the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1978, I happened to be the only person present in the cramped office of my college newspaper in Texas, when Kennedy assassination eyewitness Bill Newman entered. It was during the midst of the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations’ investigation into the matter. Newman was standing no more than 15 feet from Kennedy when he was shot. His account intrigued me, sending me on a search that has yet to end. I witnessed Kennedy’s funeral in Washington, D.C., as a boy, grew up in Dallas, and even shared the same birthday with him. Several articles I wrote on the assassination and ensuing research have won awards, including a Best in Show Feature Writing Award from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association. I have written books on other topics, but this is the one that most consumed me.

Kevin's book list on the John F. Kennedy assassination

Kevin James Shay Why did Kevin love this book?

There are numerous books that seek to prove Oswald was the lone assassin, and Mailer’s is probably the most open-minded and convincing one. Rather than descend into name-calling against authors of more conspiratorial works, Mailer sticks to the topic of Oswald’s mysterious time in Russia. Based on interviews with former acquaintances and research gathered from Russia, the book uncovers fresh details about Oswald’s time there. While Mailer theorized that Oswald executed Kennedy to shake up the world and cement his place in history, he leaves the door open, if just ever so slighty, to other potential gunmen in Dallas.

By Norman Mailer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Oswald's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work looks at the life of harvey Lee Oswald. In 1959 he defected to the Soviet Union and was sent to Minsk, where he was kept under constant KGB surveillance on the suspicion that he might be a CIA agent. In 1993 Norman Mailer spent six months in Minsk retracing Oswald's two and a half years in the USSR, interviewing Oswald's former friends and sweethearts. He obtained exclusive interviews with KGB officers and access to KGB surveillance reports. Mailer also provides an account of Oswald's disastrous childhood and of the events leading from his return to the US in…


Book cover of Libra

Geoffrey Fox Author Of Rabble! A Story of the Paris Commune

From my list on fiction on revolutionary social change.

Why am I passionate about this?

Chicago-born and now living in Spain, I was a community organizer in South America and the US before earning a PhD in sociology and becoming a college professor and author. I’ve written five nonfiction books and articles for publications including The New York Times, The Nation, Counterpunch, etc. Of my collection of short stories, Welcome to My Contri, the NY Times Book Review said that it “leaves us aware that we are in the presence of a formidable new writer.” In Rabble! I’ve called on my organizing experience as well as analysis and fiction to bring to life the actors in the first worker-run, self-governing society in the modern world.

Geoffrey's book list on fiction on revolutionary social change

Geoffrey Fox Why did Geoffrey love this book?

Libra is a chillingly realistic novel that re-imagines the assassination of John F. Kennedy. What particularly delighted me was the very realistic-sounding dialogue of the very dissimilar actors in the rambling, uncoordinated but ultimately successful conspiracy, including right-wing Aryan-nation types, non-ideological drifters desperate to leave a mark on history, and (in this version) mobsters and Cuban exile terrorists who blamed Kennedy for the "loss" of Cuba. DeLillo’s renderings of Jack Ruby’s mobster lingo, the uptight tersely coded grunts of the CIA men, the incoherencies of revolutionary wannabe Lee Harvey Oswald and others, are a model of dialogue for any fiction writer.  

By Don DeLillo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Libra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A reconstruction of the events leading up to John Kennedy's assassination. The antihero of the book is, of course, Lee Harvey Oswald, who is as hauntingly real in this novel as he was elusive to us in real life.


Book cover of Last Second in Dallas

Seth Rosenfeld Author Of Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power

From my list on spies and radicals.

Why am I passionate about this?

Seth Rosenfeld is an independent investigative journalist and author of the New York Times best-seller Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power. As a staff reporter for The San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle, he specialized in using public records and won national honors including the George Polk Award. Subversives, based on thousands of pages of FBI records released to him as a result of several Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, won the PEN Center USA’s Literary Award for Research Nonfiction Prize, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sunshine Award, and other honors.

Seth's book list on spies and radicals

Seth Rosenfeld Why did Seth love this book?

In some ways, the current epidemic of crackpot “deep state” conspiracy theories can be traced to the miasma surrounding one of the greatest unsolved murders of our time, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas’s Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. Thompson’s new book is an antidote: a rigorous, transparent and compelling investigation of acoustic, photographic, and medical evidence. The philosophy professor turned San Francisco private eye interweaves his own fascinating personal journey with the story of how he came to find, examine, and re-examine forensic evidence that, he concludes, proves Kennedy was killed not by a lone assassin as the Warren Commission found, but in a cross-fire from at least two shooters.

By Josiah Thompson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Last Second in Dallas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this long-awaited follow-up to his critically acclaimed 1967 classic, Six Seconds in Dallas, Josiah Thompson reveals major new forensic discoveries since the year 2000 that overturn previously accepted 'facts' about the Kennedy assassination. Together they provide what no previous book on the assassination has done - incontrovertible proof that JFK was killed in a crossfire.

Last Second in Dallas is not a conspiracy book. No theory of who did it is offered or discussed. Among the discoveries: The test showing that all recovered bullet fragments came from Oswald's rifle was mistaken. Several fragments could have come from bullets of…


Book cover of 11/22/63

Dana Perry Author Of The Nowhere Girls

From my list on books that are ripped from the headlines by a headline writing journalist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I know a lot about “ripped from the headlines” news stories because I’ve been around a lot of news stories and headlines most of my life. I’m a longtime New York City journalist who has worked as a top editor at both the NY Post and the NY Daily News. Believe me, I’ve seen a lot of wild headlines in these places (e.g., Headless Body in Topless Bar!). So you can understand why I now like ripping from news headlines for fiction books as an author. 

Dana's book list on books that are ripped from the headlines by a headline writing journalist

Dana Perry Why did Dana love this book?

Okay, this might seem like a bit of a strange choice to be included in a list of best “ripped from the headlines” crime novels, but it really isn’t. I mean, the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963, is probably the most famous big news headline of our times. 

I was totally blown away by King’s brilliant concept of using that legendary date in history to write this fascinating thriller about what “might have been” if someone could somehow go back in time and stop it from ever happening.

Like the other four books on my list, King takes a major real-life news story and uses it to create a fascinating work of fiction. I just love books like this!  

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked 11/22/63 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a major TV series from JJ Abrams and Stephen King, starring James Franco (Hulu US, Fox UK and Europe, Stan Australia, SKY New Zealand).

WHAT IF you could go back in time and change the course of history? WHAT IF the watershed moment you could change was the JFK assassination? 11.22.63, the date that Kennedy was shot - unless . . .

King takes his protagonist Jake Epping, a high school English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, 2011, on a fascinating journey back to 1958 - from a world of mobile phones and iPods to a new world of…


Book cover of The Day Lincoln Was Shot

Sam Rawlins Author Of Young Lincoln of New Salem

From my list on fascinating information about Abraham Lincoln.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the age of ten, I became enthralled with Abraham Lincoln. The story of his life captured my imagination. I had to know more about him. Through the decades I searched out little-known stories, eyewitness accounts, and letters thought lost. Becoming fascinated how he went from an almost illiterate young man to becoming the person we know from history; I went to the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield Illinois and to where he lived in New Salem to do additional research. After that, I started writing a three-year labor of love: my own Lincoln book, primarily focusing on one key period of his life. 

Sam's book list on fascinating information about Abraham Lincoln

Sam Rawlins Why did Sam love this book?

The last day of Lincoln’s life, brilliantly told within the structure of each hour becoming a chapter of the book. Bishop’s passion for the subject matter led him to research the day for 25 years, from 1930 to the book’s release in 1955.

The events of April 14, 1865 are told in a clear and concise style that will hold your attention throughout, even though you know what will happen. I felt the atmosphere of Washington City, becoming totally immersed in the narrative as the story progressed. Other readers have thought so, too, as this book has sold over 3 million copies.

By Jim Bishop,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Day Lincoln Was Shot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Day Lincoln Was Shot is a gripping, minute-by-minute account of April 14, 1865: the day President Abraham Lincoln was tragically assassinated.

It chronicles the movements of Lincoln and his assassin John Wilkes Booth during every movement of that fateful day. Author and journalist Jim Bishop has fashioned an unforgettable tale of tragedy, more gripping than fiction, more alive than any newspaper account.
 
First published in 1955, The Day Lincoln Was Shot was a huge bestseller, and in 1998 it was made into a TNT movie, with Rob Morrow as Booth.
 


Book cover of The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War

Gary Krist Author Of Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans

From my list on narrative nonfiction involving murder and mayhem.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a former novelist who now writes historical narrative nonfiction, mainly about American cities and the people who give them life. Each book focuses on an important turning point in the history of a specific metropolis (I've written about Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and San Francisco), often when the city goes from being a minor backwater to being someplace of significance. And I try to tell this story through the lives of real individuals who help to make that transformation happen. My goal is to use the skills I developed as a fiction writer to create historical narratives that maintain strict standards of scholarship while being as compelling and compulsively readable as novels.

Gary's book list on narrative nonfiction involving murder and mayhem

Gary Krist Why did Gary love this book?

I find few dramas in history more intriguing than that of Abraham Lincoln, and it's sobering to realize just how close we came to missing his entire second act.

The so-called Baltimore Plot – a conspiracy to assassinate the newly elected president while en route to his first inauguration – has been written about before, but never as vividly and novelistically as in Daniel Stashower's The Hour of Peril. In telling this riveting story, Stashower brings into the spotlight a little-known figure named Kate Warne, perhaps the country's first female private detective.

Tough-minded and self-possessed beyond her years, Warne assists the celebrated Allan Pinkerton in a tense, nerve-racking effort to spirit the President-elect safely to Washington DC – and into arguably the most important role in American history. 

By Daniel Stashower,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hour of Peril as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"It's history that reads like a race-against-the-clock thriller." ―Harlan Coben

Daniel Stashower, the two-time Edgar award–winning author of The Beautiful Cigar Girl, uncovers the riveting true story of the "Baltimore Plot," an audacious conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War in THE HOUR OF PERIL.

In February of 1861, just days before he assumed the presidency, Abraham Lincoln faced a "clear and fully-matured" threat of assassination as he traveled by train from Springfield to Washington for his inauguration. Over a period of thirteen days the legendary detective Allan Pinkerton worked feverishly to detect and thwart…


Book cover of Assassination Vacation

Philip R. Stone Author Of 111 Dark Places in England That You Shouldn't Miss

From my list on 'dark tourism’ and our difficult heritage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first turned to the ‘dark side’ of travel when a student of mine introduced me to ‘dark tourism’. Sadly the world is littered with places of tragedy where our misfortunes are exposed by dark tourism. As a social scientist, I have been writing about visiting our significant dead for over 20 years. I am fascinated as to why particular deaths are remembered, by whom, and how our dead are (re)presented within visitor economies. I have lectured and published extensively within academia, as well as being a media consultant. I continue to tell tales of our dead and how we attach cultural importance to certain kinds of death. 

Philip's book list on 'dark tourism’ and our difficult heritage

Philip R. Stone Why did Philip love this book?

With a healthy dose of gallows humour, Sarah Vowell explores glorious conundrums of American history, politics, and culture. As such, the book provoked me to appreciate how visiting sites of the significant dead has long been in the touristic imagination. The book takes you on a journey – part history lesson, part travelogue – through the black spots of American political violence. Through a bizarre road trip to places where American politicians met a bloody end, I found Vowell’s own thoughts on the American character both witty and quirky. I also love how she explodes myths and, consequently, exposes a profound level of hypocrisy in the quest for (American) political and cultural advantage.  

By Sarah Vowell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Assassination Vacation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Transporting us from Buffalo to Alaska, Washington to Key West, Vowell has crafted a narrative that is much more than a historical travelogue - it is the disturbing and mesmerising story of how American death has been manipulated by popular culture, including film, literature, and - the author's favourite - historical tourism. Skilfully belying the undercurrents of loss and violence that course through her journey, Vowell injects a range of lighter detours along the way, including mummies, show tunes, mean-spirited totem poles, a nineteenth-century biblical sex cult - and exactly how Lincoln's Republican Party became Bush's Republican Party. Assassination Vacation…


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