- File Size: 18783 KB
- Print Length: 45 pages
- Publisher: Amazon Original Stories (February 11, 2020)
- Publication Date: February 11, 2020
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07YKW4F1S
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,423 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Second Best Thing: Marilyn, JFK, and a Night to Remember Kindle Edition
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About the Author
James L. Swanson is the author of the New York Times bestseller and Edgar Award winner Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer and its sequel, Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse. His historic crime dramas include the bestselling classic Chasing Lincoln’s Killer, an adaptation of Manhunt for young readers, with more than one million copies in print. He wrote about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in “The President Has Been Shot!”: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy and the adult version, End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy. His most recent book, Chasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassin, received the 2019 Jefferson Cup Award for young adult readers and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. He serves on the advisory councils of the Ford’s Theatre Society and the Gettysburg Foundation and on the board of the Abraham Lincoln Association.
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Stoughton’s writing is clean and concise and very much like a news reporter used to be in the “good old days”. The black & white photos will take you back to Camelot, if you’re old enough; to a textbook, if not. There’s an air of mystery and intrigue that the author requests the readers help with.
“Second Best Thing” is a short and passionate project by a gifted author; well worth a read📚
Top international reviews
No, this is actually an essay, like an excerpt from a longer biography, and concluded with a plea for more information by the writer to help him fill in the gaps. But it is still a vivid reconstruction of Kennedy's birthday gala, with its variety show, famous MC's such as comedian Jack Benny, and breathless rendition of 'Happy Birthday Mr President' by the titular 'second best thing' (Kennedy being the first) on the programme, Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe. Much is made of the breathtakingly then shocking translucency and painted on nature of Marilyn's outfit. We also see Kennedy throned in splendour as the King of Camelot, seated in his raised booth, cigar in hand, with all paying tribute before him. It does capture the mystique and glamour and charisma of this Presidency.
The essay does not go for easy scandal. We are told Jackie Kennedy stayed away, and previous trysts between Kennedy and a range of women including Marilyn are acknowledged. But the fission here is what might have happened, rather than what did, and the writer is at pains to show both leads going their separate ways at the end of the evening. The essay is illustrated with a range of Stoughton's images, and a central one shows Jack turning away as the camera flashes with Marilyn by his side. We'll never know if this turning away was deliberate or not.
The writer concludes sombrely with the tragic destiny of both protagonists, which gives events a romantic melancholy.
Very much worth a read, especially if you are interested in this chapter of history, and full of vivid details that do bring the night to memorable life. Given that no consistent recording of the whole night exists, what we are left with here, then, is a fascinating reconstruction.