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THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN SHOT; The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

Author: James L. Swanson

Reserve at the Library

Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2013

Material: hard cover

Summary: This timeline on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy starts in the days before the trip to Dallas, Texas, through the transition of government to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Photographs, illustrations, and biographic detail give readers a "360" perspective of what happened (and what didn't). This is a chronology of events and individuals written for teens.

Type of Reading: independent reading

Recommended Age: read together: 12 and up; read yourself: 14 and up

Interest Level: 12 and up

Reading Level: 8

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: The book is loaded with illustrations! This is invaluable for helping kids connect the descriptive text with "seeing" space and time. I also liked the short, episodic chapters. For me, the book was less about the assassination and more about First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. To the point that it almost overpowered Lee Harvey Oswald's story.

Pros: Short chapters and lots of illustrations will attract teens of all reading interest levels. They will come away not only more knowledgeable of President Kennedy's life and death, but of the socio-political context of the time.

Cons: There were times when pieces of information weren't fully fleshed out. For example, a photo of key Civil Rights leaders at the White House only "tagged" President Kennedy, Vice President Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., even though there were five other Civil Rights leaders in the photo (p 38).

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This would be an excellent resource for students unfamiliar with the events of President Kennedy's term as president, including a biographical perspective of his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.

If You Liked This Book, Try: KENNEDY THROUGH THE LENS; How Photography and Television Revealed and Shaped an Extraordinary Leader  

Educational Themes: There are a lot of ways to use this book. President Kennedy's assassination is the central theme, but there are other topics that may spark interest for readers: Cuban Missile Crisis, US-Soviet relations, defection and spies, Peace Corps, and lesser known events and figures of the Civil Rights movement. Readers who would be interested in following that thread don't have any info to go on.

Literary Categories: Nonfiction - US history, 1960s, biography

Date(s) Reviewed: February 2014

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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