Synopses & Reviews
It has now been more than forty years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on the streets of Dallas on November 22, 1963. No event in the post-war era, not even the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, has cast such a long shadow over our national life. The murder of the handsome and vigorous president shocked the nation to its core, and shook the faith of many Americans in their institutions and way of life. The repercussions from that event continue to be felt down to the present day. Looking back, it is now clear that Kennedys death marked a historical crossroads after which point events began to move in surprising and destructive directions.
In Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism, James Piereson examines this seminal event from an entirely new and provocative point of view. Most books on the assassination take up the question as to who was really responsible for killing the President. Mr. Piereson takes it as established fact that Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald.
What needs to be explained, he argues, is the bizarre aftermath of the assassination: Why in the years after the assassination did the American Left become preoccupied with conspiratorial thinking? How and why was John F. Kennedy transformed in death into a liberal icon and a martyr for civil rights? In what way was the assassination linked to the collapse of mid-century liberalism, a doctrine which until 1963 was the reigning philosophy of the nation? In answering these questions, Piereson places great weight on the influence of Jacqueline Kennedy in shaping public memory of her husband and the meaning of his death. The Kennedy assassination, he argues, is a case study in public myth-making and the ways in which images and symbols can override fact and substance in political life.
In his book Camelot and the Cultural Revolution, Mr. Piereson has brilliantly added a new dimension to the bitter controversy that still rages over the JFK assassination: political perspective. It is much needed, if only to make some sense of the disputation over evidence that has gone on for over forty years. -- Edward Jay Epstein, author of Inquest: The Warren Commission and the Establishment of Truth and Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald
James Piereson has written an idiosyncratic, provocative, and quite brilliant book. He puts the Kennedy assasination--or, rather, the left's rewriting of history occasioned by the Kennedy assassination--at the center of liberalism's crackup in the 1960s in a way that no one, so far as I know, has done before. I'll go so far as to say this: Piereson's study will be indispensable to anyone, from now on, who seriously tries to come to grips with the last half-century of our history. -- William Kristol, Editor, The Weekly Standard
Mr. Piereson shows that the assassination of Kennedy was more than a shot heard round the world. It was a shot that blasted into the liberal Weltanschauung, bringing on the enormities of the sixties and seventies. Mr. Piereson earns the gratitude of curious people, whom he fascinates. -- William F. Buckley Jr.