Cover image for Four days in November : the original coverage of the John F. Kennedy assassination
Four days in November : the original coverage of the John F. Kennedy assassination
Semple, Robert B.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
x, 628 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Added Uniform Title:
New York times.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E842.9 .F63 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E842.9 .F63 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E842.9 .F63 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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The assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas forty years ago remains, and will always remain, indelible in the minds of those old enough to recall it. The youngest elected leader in American history, a charming man leading what seemed a charmed life, by general consensus a president whose administration, having survived its early crises, was now at last hitting its stride, was shot and killed by a sniper firing a mail-order rifle from the southeast corner of the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. So great was the shock that time seemed to freeze in the squinting glare of late-November sun. For four days in November 1963, the business of the nation ground to a halt.The coverage provided by The New York Times is still generally considered the most complete of its day. Almost miraculously, Times reporters, writers, and editors produced 250 columns, or about 200,000 words, on and about the very first day. The other three days were no less exhaustive. Through the combined efforts of, among many others, Tom Wicker, James Reston, Max Frankel, Anthony Lewis, Harrison Salisbury, A. M. Rosenthal, and Arthur Gelb, The Times covered history as it was happening, from the assassination to the funeral. Here were the first portraits of Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby, the earliest speculation regarding the prospects of Lyndon Johnson's administration, the immediate reaction from world leaders, and, perhaps most of all, the pulse of a populace reeling from an event that surpassed both understanding and belief.This commemorative volume provides a haunting, firsthand, and detailed chronology of the events that took place in Dallas and Washington from November 22 to November 25, 1963. Here is history being recorded in the moment - a recitation not just of facts but of emotions and reactions as they were being experienced. The clarity of the writing is matched only by the almost desperate intensity of its occasion. Getting all the news that's fit to print seemed the only way of keeping the world fromspinning further into chaos; The Times 's coverage provided not just information but a sense of balance. Though no one would ultimately explain to everyone's satisfaction the why, the who, what, and how were brought with amazing speed and accuracy within our grasp.f0With an introduction by Tom Wicker and edited by Robert B. Semple Jr., Four Days in November is an extraordinary book. It will serve as an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to remember, to understand, and most of all to feel what it was like, minute by minute, detail by detail, while one of the most traumatic events in recent American history unfolded.

Author Notes

Tom Wicker , a former Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times , is the author of several books, including Kennedy Without Tears , A Time to Die - about the Attica, New York, prison uprising - and, most recently, a biography of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Robert B. Semple Jr ., a Pulitzer Prize-winning member of The Times 's editorial board, worked in the Washington bureau of the paper in 1963.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Within hours of the assassination of John Kennedy, Tom Wicker typed out the first what-happened article from Dallas; James Reston groped for what-it-means analysis; and Nan Robertson and Russell Baker sketched portraits of mourning crowds in Washington, D.C. These brand names in journalism helped produce the New York Times0 ' proverbial first draft of history, reproduced here in its entirety up to the burial of the murdered president. Wicker introduces this volume with his own essay on the assassination's significance, but more novel to readers will be his description of how he put together, in the initial confusion following the attack on Kennedy, the report the Times0 printed the next day. He got a lot of it right, which supports Wicker's contention that this reportage represents the last stand of print journalism against television. Indeed, the ascendance of TV is visible here in articles that simply describe scenes seen on the tube, such as the murder of the accused assassin. The fortieth anniversary of the assassination will create demand for this Times0 capsule. --Gilbert Taylor Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

On the 40th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, the New York Times is republishing all of its coverage from November 22, the day Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy, to November 25, the day of the president's funeral. Readers who recall the assassination will find their memories jarred by long-forgotten details, such as the name of the Dallas police officer killed during the Oswald manhunt (it was Tippit). They will also be surprised by names of then unknown players that are now familiar (one is 29-year-old Bill Moyers, described as "[a]mong the closest and brightest of Mr. Johnson's intimates"), while the names of lions of the day, like Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, may be barely recalled. Many will also be struck with how unpredictable was the future that in retrospect seems inevitable. In the moment, there is no hint that a snippet of film taken by "home movie enthusiast" Abraham Zapruder would become the driving force for a cult of conspiracy theorists. Likewise, newly sworn-in President Johnson's fateful commitment to winning the war in Vietnam is buried in a "background" article. This is not a book to be read cover to cover many articles are of little interest but there are some examples of terrific writing: Tom Wicker, James Reston and Anthony Lewis were all in their prime. Overall, the more than 600 pages of coverage engenders a deep appreciation of how profound was the country's anguish at the loss of its young president. 32 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

To commemorate the Kennedy assassination's 40th anniversary, St. Martin's is offering this title, which combines the full coverage of the event published in the New York Times. This also sports an introduction by Times Op-Ed columnist Tom Wicker. Solid. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.