The murder of President Kennedy remains a terrible moment in American and World history. It still resonates now, fifty years on. I’ve read plenty on the subject and much that is published as fact is pure fiction. Stephen King takes a bold approach with a fictional account of what could have happened in Dealey Plaza, Dallas on November 22, 1963.
King’s novel gives its central character, Jake Epping, the opportunity to change history. Having been alerted to what as a Doctor Who fan I’ll have to call ‘a rip in the space-time continuum’, Jake can travel back in time, but only to a specific date in 1958, and return at will to the present day. He can stay in the past for five years and stop the Kennedy Assassination from happening, and no-one in the present will even notice he’s gone anywhere.
I’m not a Stephen King fan, I don’t enjoy horror writing, but the premise of this book really drew me in. At some point everyone has wondered how things could have turned out differently if Kennedy had breezed through Dallas, waving and smiling, then got onto a plane and on with his Presidency.
Have you ever wondered what you would do if you could prevent the murder of John F. Kennedy?
Could you live in the past for years, creating a life for yourself? Would you be able to integrate with people, knowing that you would disappear forever from their lives when your task was complete? Could you support yourself without alerting people to your knowledge of future events. I found Stephen King’s treatment of these dilemmas fascinating.
How would the World look today if Kennedy lived?
I was excited about this potential part of the story. We’ve lived our lives without a full Kennedy Presidency, and we’ve eulogized his memory. The Kennedy’s held so much hope for everyone, that young, idealistic, charismatic people could really change the world for the better, would they have lived up to the promise?
Without the Kennedy assassination, there would undoubtedly be no LBJ Presidency. Would there be PBS, Medicare, Medicaid, the Civil Rights legislation? Would Vietnam have escalated into fiasco? Would the Cold War have turned hot? Could America have had an effective monarchy with successive terms for Kennedy boys every four years?
I enjoyed anticipating what the modern world would look like with Kennedy in it, if Jake went through with the plan, but Stephen King is not a historian or social philosopher. Stephen King is a talented novelist with his own views on how such an adventure would affect the world, read the book and find out how he ended the story.
I’m sure you’ll have your own views on whether The Warren Report: The Official Report on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy should be filed in the fiction or non-fiction sections of your library, but it is an interesting book to have on hand when people want to talk about the topic, or conspiracies in general.
Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK is another one for you to read and decide whether to file it with your novels or your history books, of all the cover up stories I think this is the most credible sounding, cock-ups usually are.