11/22/63 by Stephen King is a doozy of a tale that poses the question: What if JFK hadn’t been killed on that titular day in Dallas? The possibilities are interesting to ponder. Perhaps no Vietnam? No extended Cold War? Would Robert Kennedy have been killed in 1968? And what of the space race? Dozens of other possible outcomes. When it comes to time travel narratives, there are always more “what ifs” to speak of. By choosing the Kennedy assassination as the point when America somehow irrevocably changed, King confronts a larger issue of the historical legacy of the country while also tapping into that age old personal conundrum: Could you kill a person in cold blood if you knew that person would be responsible for the deaths of millions? King is in rare from here, using the concept of time travel to not only wax nostalgic a bit, but to deftly draw attention to how far America has come as a nation, for better and worse, since the late 50’s and early 60’s. Anyone who still derides and dismisses Mr. King as “that horror writer guy” would do well not to do such a disservice as to forgo reading this based on naïve preconceived notions. If nothing else, King’s considerable talent is evident in his ability to somehow humanize one of the most misunderstood, enigmatic, despised, and vilified individuals of the 20th century—Lee Harvey Oswald. With a strong protagonist, compelling plot lines, interesting characters, and a love story that broke my heart, this thrilling alternative history narrative kept me eagerly reading right to the final poignant page.

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