The best books about the JFK Assassination

3 authors have picked their favorite books about the John F. Kennedy Assassination and why they recommend each book.

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On the Trail of the Assassins

By Jim Garrison,

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

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Death of the Rising Sun: A Search for Truth in the JFK Assassination

By Kevin James Shay,

Book cover of Death of the Rising Sun: A Search for Truth in the JFK Assassination

What is my book about?

Historians place the assassination of John F. Kennedy among the biggest watershed events of the 20th century. Since that 1963 tragedy, more than 2,000 books have covered various aspects of the assassination and its aftermath. Some have even claimed to solve the case. Veteran journalist Kevin James Shay focuses on presenting what occurred between Kennedy's 1960 presidential triumph and his assassination in an objective manner. The narrative, infused with behind-the-scenes details that have been brought to light in recent years, provides a compelling account that is particularly geared towards the average reader.

The book unearths some fresh details, such as about other attempts on Kennedy's life and the involvement of a Ku Klux Klan leader who opposed racial violence to the point that he became a government informant and likely helped prolong Kennedy’s life.

Crossfire

By Jim Marrs,

Book cover of Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy

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.

Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Death of the Rising Sun: A Search for Truth in the JFK Assassination

By Kevin James Shay,

Book cover of Death of the Rising Sun: A Search for Truth in the JFK Assassination

What is my book about?

Historians place the assassination of John F. Kennedy among the biggest watershed events of the 20th century. Since that 1963 tragedy, more than 2,000 books have covered various aspects of the assassination and its aftermath. Some have even claimed to solve the case. Veteran journalist Kevin James Shay focuses on presenting what occurred between Kennedy's 1960 presidential triumph and his assassination in an objective manner. The narrative, infused with behind-the-scenes details that have been brought to light in recent years, provides a compelling account that is particularly geared towards the average reader.

The book unearths some fresh details, such as about other attempts on Kennedy's life and the involvement of a Ku Klux Klan leader who opposed racial violence to the point that he became a government informant and likely helped prolong Kennedy’s life.

Castro's Secrets

By Brian Latell,

Book cover of Castro's Secrets: Cuban Intelligence, The CIA, and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy

Intelligence expert, professor, and former National Intelligence Officer for Latin America, Dr. Brian Latell, offers insight into Cuban Intelligence and their—largely—successful infiltration of the US security apparatus. Based on interviews with high-level defectors, the book delves into Castro’s mindset with assassination plots and uncover operations emanating from both sides of the Florida Straits as well as a behind-the-scenes look at some key events of the Cold War.

It’s very interesting to learn more about Castro’s mindset beyond the news headlines and how he managed to maintain power after the revolution. However, the real bombshell is an anecdote given by a former Cuban radio operator during the 1960s. I won’t give anything away, but it certainly adds fodder to the JFK assassination, giving one something to think about without falling into a deluge of conspiracy theories. Compelling reading from a true expert in the area.


Who am I?

I lived in Latin America for six years, working as a red cross volunteer, a volcano hiking guide, a teacher, and an extra in a Russian TV series (in Panama). Having travelled throughout the region and returning regularly, I’m endlessly fascinated by the culture, history, politics, languages, and geography. Parallel to this, I enjoy reading and writing about the world of international espionage. Combining the two, and based on my own experience, I wrote my novel, Magical Disinformation, a spy novel set in Colombia. While there is not a huge depth of spy novels set in Latin America, I’ve chosen five of my favourites spy books set in the region.


I wrote...

Magical Disinformation

By Lachlan Page,

Book cover of Magical Disinformation

What is my book about?

Oliver Jardine is a British spy in Colombia, enamoured with local woman Veronica Velasco. As the Colombian government signs a peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas, Her Majesty’s Government decides a transfer is in order to focus on more pertinent theatres of operation. In a desperate attempt to remain in Colombia, Jardine begins to fabricate his intelligence reports. But the consequences soon take on a life of their own.

In the era of ‘fake news,’ in the land of magical realism, fiction can be just as dangerous as the truth...

False Witness

By Patricia Lambert,

Book cover of False Witness: The Real Story of Jim Garrison's Investigation and Oliver Stone's Film JFK

Director Oliver Stone based his 1991 movie JFK on the failed late 1960s JFK assassination probe of New Orleans district attorney, Jim Garrison. In this investigative book, Lambert methodically deconstructs Garrison’s investigation and exposes it as a total fraud. Her prodigious original research both archives and interviews is woven into a faced-paced book that is utterly convincing.


Who am I?

I was in the fourth grade when JFK was assassinated. I grew up in the late 1960s as conspiracy theories about ‘who killed Kennedy’ flourished. Jack Ruby’s murder of Oswald made me suspect the mafia played a role. After Oliver Stone’s controversial 1991 JFK film, I convinced a publisher to allow me to reexamine the assassination. I did not expect to solve the case. Halfway through my research, however, I realized there was an answer to ‘who killed Kennedy.’ It was not what I had expected. I discovered that the story of how a 24-year-old sociopath armed with a $12 rifle managed to kill the president was a far more fascinating one than I could have ever envisioned.


I wrote...

Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK

By Gerald Posner,

Book cover of Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK

What is my book about?

Case Closed is the definitive reexamination of the JFK assassination. Published in 1993, on the 30th anniversary of America’s most infamous political murder, it was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the Pulitzer in History. I testified before Congress about the findings of my book: that Lee Harvey Oswald had, indeed, acted alone in killing JFK. 

Historian Stephen Ambrose said about Case Closed: “Posner has done a great service, in the process proving that a single researcher, working alone, is always preferable to a committee. This is a model of historical research. It should be required reading for anyone reviewing any book on the Kennedy assassination. Beyond the outstanding job of research, Posner is a dramatic storyteller. The recreation of Oswald's, and Jack Ruby's, personalities are wonderfully well done. This case has been closed by Mr. Posner's work.”

Last Second in Dallas

By Josiah Thompson,

Book cover of Last Second in Dallas

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

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

By Seth Rosenfeld,

Book cover of Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power

What is my book about?

In the mid-1960s, the FBI was secretly involved with three charismatic figures: the ambitious neophyte politician Ronald Reagan, the fierce but fragile radical Mario Savio, and the liberal university president Clark Kerr. Subversives traces these converging narratives in a dramatic and disturbing story of FBI surveillance, illegal break-ins, infiltration, planted news stories, poison-pen letters, and secret detention lists, all centered on the Free Speech Movement at the University of California’s Berkeley campus.

Subversives provides a fresh look at the legacy of the sixties, sheds new light on one of America’s most popular presidents, and tells a cautionary tale about the dangers of secrecy and unchecked power.

Marina and Lee

By Priscilla Johnson McMillan,

Book cover of Marina and Lee: The Tormented Love and Fatal Obsession Behind Lee Harvey Oswald's Assassination of John F. Kennedy

Author Priscilla McMillan was at the crossroads of history. She worked as a junior aide for Senator John Kennedy before she went to Moscow as a reporter during the height of the Cold War. There, in 1959, she interviewed an American marine who had recently defected to the Soviet Union. He was Lee Harvey Oswald. After JFK was killed in 1963, McMillan befriended Oswald’s widow, Marina, and spent hundreds of hours interviewing her. The result of McMillan’s unprecedented direct access to the Oswalds is an unmatched personal study of a troubled young man who turned into one of history’s most notorious assassins. 


Who am I?

I was in the fourth grade when JFK was assassinated. I grew up in the late 1960s as conspiracy theories about ‘who killed Kennedy’ flourished. Jack Ruby’s murder of Oswald made me suspect the mafia played a role. After Oliver Stone’s controversial 1991 JFK film, I convinced a publisher to allow me to reexamine the assassination. I did not expect to solve the case. Halfway through my research, however, I realized there was an answer to ‘who killed Kennedy.’ It was not what I had expected. I discovered that the story of how a 24-year-old sociopath armed with a $12 rifle managed to kill the president was a far more fascinating one than I could have ever envisioned.


I wrote...

Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK

By Gerald Posner,

Book cover of Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK

What is my book about?

Case Closed is the definitive reexamination of the JFK assassination. Published in 1993, on the 30th anniversary of America’s most infamous political murder, it was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the Pulitzer in History. I testified before Congress about the findings of my book: that Lee Harvey Oswald had, indeed, acted alone in killing JFK. 

Historian Stephen Ambrose said about Case Closed: “Posner has done a great service, in the process proving that a single researcher, working alone, is always preferable to a committee. This is a model of historical research. It should be required reading for anyone reviewing any book on the Kennedy assassination. Beyond the outstanding job of research, Posner is a dramatic storyteller. The recreation of Oswald's, and Jack Ruby's, personalities are wonderfully well done. This case has been closed by Mr. Posner's work.”

JFK and the Unspeakable

By James W. Douglass,

Book cover of JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters

Written in a deeply personal, even spiritual manner that incorporates a vast amount of research, this book moved Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to visit the assassination site in Dallas for the first time more than four decades after the tragedy. Douglass particularly investigates Lee Harvey Oswald’s involvement with American intelligence agencies and writes in a highly readable style that appeals to both average readers and researchers. He provides perspective on not just how Kennedy was killed, but why, as well as why the assassination is important to continue to research to this day.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Death of the Rising Sun: A Search for Truth in the JFK Assassination

By Kevin James Shay,

Book cover of Death of the Rising Sun: A Search for Truth in the JFK Assassination

What is my book about?

Historians place the assassination of John F. Kennedy among the biggest watershed events of the 20th century. Since that 1963 tragedy, more than 2,000 books have covered various aspects of the assassination and its aftermath. Some have even claimed to solve the case. Veteran journalist Kevin James Shay focuses on presenting what occurred between Kennedy's 1960 presidential triumph and his assassination in an objective manner. The narrative, infused with behind-the-scenes details that have been brought to light in recent years, provides a compelling account that is particularly geared towards the average reader.

The book unearths some fresh details, such as about other attempts on Kennedy's life and the involvement of a Ku Klux Klan leader who opposed racial violence to the point that he became a government informant and likely helped prolong Kennedy’s life.

Oswald's Tale

By Norman Mailer,

Book cover of Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Death of the Rising Sun: A Search for Truth in the JFK Assassination

By Kevin James Shay,

Book cover of Death of the Rising Sun: A Search for Truth in the JFK Assassination

What is my book about?

Historians place the assassination of John F. Kennedy among the biggest watershed events of the 20th century. Since that 1963 tragedy, more than 2,000 books have covered various aspects of the assassination and its aftermath. Some have even claimed to solve the case. Veteran journalist Kevin James Shay focuses on presenting what occurred between Kennedy's 1960 presidential triumph and his assassination in an objective manner. The narrative, infused with behind-the-scenes details that have been brought to light in recent years, provides a compelling account that is particularly geared towards the average reader.

The book unearths some fresh details, such as about other attempts on Kennedy's life and the involvement of a Ku Klux Klan leader who opposed racial violence to the point that he became a government informant and likely helped prolong Kennedy’s life.

Reclaiming History

By Vincent Bugliosi,

Book cover of Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

Bugliosi, the famed former Los Angeles prosecutor of Charles Manson, directs his attention to dismissing the conspiracy theories in the JFK murder in his massive (1648 page) tome. Bugliosi writes with the caustic tone of a prosecutor and covers just about every issue in some detail. It is a great reference book and concludes that Oswald alone killed Kennedy. Published 14 years after Case Closed, I often refer to it as Case Still Closed.


Who am I?

I was in the fourth grade when JFK was assassinated. I grew up in the late 1960s as conspiracy theories about ‘who killed Kennedy’ flourished. Jack Ruby’s murder of Oswald made me suspect the mafia played a role. After Oliver Stone’s controversial 1991 JFK film, I convinced a publisher to allow me to reexamine the assassination. I did not expect to solve the case. Halfway through my research, however, I realized there was an answer to ‘who killed Kennedy.’ It was not what I had expected. I discovered that the story of how a 24-year-old sociopath armed with a $12 rifle managed to kill the president was a far more fascinating one than I could have ever envisioned.


I wrote...

Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK

By Gerald Posner,

Book cover of Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK

What is my book about?

Case Closed is the definitive reexamination of the JFK assassination. Published in 1993, on the 30th anniversary of America’s most infamous political murder, it was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the Pulitzer in History. I testified before Congress about the findings of my book: that Lee Harvey Oswald had, indeed, acted alone in killing JFK. 

Historian Stephen Ambrose said about Case Closed: “Posner has done a great service, in the process proving that a single researcher, working alone, is always preferable to a committee. This is a model of historical research. It should be required reading for anyone reviewing any book on the Kennedy assassination. Beyond the outstanding job of research, Posner is a dramatic storyteller. The recreation of Oswald's, and Jack Ruby's, personalities are wonderfully well done. This case has been closed by Mr. Posner's work.”

11/22/63

By Stephen King,

Book cover of 11/22/63

This book does a time travel back to the late 50s and early 60s. Jake finds himself being able to ‘reset’ each travel back in time, to alter history and save lives, or let a situation be as is—unaltered. In King’s style, he paints vivid pictures of good and bad characters who influence the hero’s decisions to often watch life unfold, or try and make a change for the best.


Who am I?

Every time I see a wonderful episode of life, I want to capture it in writing or tell a compelling story about it. Too often, we let the good memories go, and remember the difficult ones. So, I keep writing books that have a real—yet positive outlook that can ignite a smile out of someone—or a hearty laugh. In 2020, I published Profiles in Kindness—an award-winning CIPA/Reader's Choice Award for motivation & inspirational leadership. In 2018, I first released the CIPA Award-winning Something Happened Today, addressing seeing the goodness in everyday life even in the face of difficulties. 


I wrote...

Start Late, Finish Happy: Random Encounters - Unexpected Joy

By Paul E. Kotz,

Book cover of Start Late, Finish Happy: Random Encounters - Unexpected Joy

What is my book about?

Stories of inspiration, making mistakes, finding happiness as well as bringing to light anecdotes of deliberate and unexpected kindness are found within! Many times these random encounters have untapped joy. It is about everyday life, vulnerability, and our reactions. Ravi Zacharias stated, "None of us escapes life without some ecstasy and heartache." When you see a baby jumping for joy, splashing water during a bath, or smiling from a hug you just gave them, we rarely question their excitement and enjoy the moment of their ebullient happiness.

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