PT 109

PT 109 – William Doyle

An American epic of war, survival, and the destiny of John F. Kennedy. JFK’s hero story about having your boat run clean through by a destroyer in the middle of the night and most of the crew survives the experience. A big crunch. Lots of swimming. A coconut message. Jack Kennedy led them home. Inspiring.

Rat Pack Confidential

Rat Pack Confidential – Shawn Levy

More depth and less tabloid frenzy than you might expect from a book with this title. But it’s all there: selfishness and debauchery, mobbed-up Vegas, life in the 60s fast lane. Sinatra was at the heart of the web, with Dean, Sammy, and a couple of losers hanging out for kicks. Sinatra was doing all the kicking. A fun, easy read that opens the doors to 60s history for those who weren’t there.

American Tabloid

American Tabloid – James Ellroy

A gritty noir take on the circumstances surrounding the JFK assassination. All the bloody guts and gore of a page-turning Ellroy novel, set against the backdrop of November 22, 1963. Ellroy illustrates the depths of Federal law enforcement corruption and how much the Cuban exile community hated JFK.

Marina and Lee

Marina and Lee – Priscilla Johnson McMillan

This book is fascinating for the amount of detail Marina shared, but flawed by her lack of credibility. A classic piece of novelistic reportage which told the story the world had for the most part accepted: a miserable lone maniac killed JFK. Based in large part on information elicited from Marina Oswald, it can be no more or less credible as history than Marina was at that time. To put it simply, Marina was intent on staying in the US and telling the story that the FBI and the Warren Commission wanted her to tell to support the Warren Report. This is the long version.

One Hell of a Gamble

One Hell of a Gamble – Fursenko & Naftali

The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 was the point at which both the US and the USSR backed down from Cold War confrontation, rather than fight a devastating nuclear war. This study presents the information we learned when KGB files were published after the fall of the USSR in the early 1990s. As bad as the crisis seemed in 1962, the reality was much worse. Ballistic missiles and small-yield battlefield missiles with nuclear warheads were already active in Cuba when gung-ho Pentagon generals insisted that we must fight. Hard line Politburo members in Moscow were also pushing for a battle. Now that we have all the information it is clear that Kennedy and Khrushchev really did save the world.