And Kennedy wasn’t the only person Oswald murdered that day. Shortly after the assassination, he shot Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit, who had stopped Oswald for questioning. And when the police captured Oswald, “he actually seemed to enjoy the attention as he toyed with the Dallas Police, FBI, and Secret Service interrogators. Oswald insisted he was innocent,” Swanson writes. The assassin went so far as to claim he didn’t even own a rifle.
Swanson also covers the controversial aftermath of the killing. Oswald’s non-existent escape plan. His merciless killing of Tippit. Oswald’s questioning by police, and his own murder at the hands of Jack Ruby.
He also brings an era to life with a vivid depiction of the viewing and funeral. We witness the reaction of Kennedy’s widow and his surviving brothers. We relive the way Americans lined up for miles in the cold to pay their respects. We read Jackie Kennedy’s hand-written letter to Lyndon Johnson.
Swanson’s book reminds us that history sometimes turns on individual decisions. From Gavrilo Princip deciding to shoot Franz Ferdinand in 1914, to John Wilkes Booth gunning down Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theater in 1865, it really is as simple as one man deciding to kill another.
While he was being questioned, Oswald predicted that people would forget Kennedy within days. He couldn’t have been more wrong. We still remember 50 years on, and -- thanks to books like End of Days -- it’s a good bet we always will.