If President John Kennedy had survived the ambush at Dealey Plaza in Dallas a half-century ago, what other twists might history have taken? In his meticulously researched novel, Surrounded by Enemies: What If Kennedy Survived Dallas, author Bryce Zabel delivers a supercharged but plausible alternative narrative of the turbulent 1960s after our charismatic president escapes unscathed on November 22, 1963.
Since the assassination, other writers have speculated about the important work for peace and equality that President Kennedy could have done had his life been spared. Instead, Zabel - a Writers Guild award-winning Hollywood writer/producer - boldly re-imagines a shocking post-1963 political scenario that is painfully disruptive to the nation, culminating in a Constitutional crisis and even calls for the president's impeachment.
Without resorting to sci-fi gimmicks, Zabel instead investigates and explores what we now know about the underbelly of JFK's presidency to portray him returning to a very different Washington, D.C. where the stakes are high on so many fronts. After all, someone had just tried to execute him in broad daylight on a public street in front of a national television audience. The President and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, essentially become the first conspiracy theorists, determined to strike back at their formidable and determined enemies. This is not a time-travel story with a protagonist sent back to save JFK. It is not a rose-colored glasses look at an idealized "what if," Instead we get a hard look at the dark secrets of the Kennedy administration - and of those who have the motive and means to brutally remove him from office, including government insiders at the CIA, FBI, Secret Service and even suspects such as Vice President Lyndon Johnson.
The provocative and compelling narrative covers the period from Kennedy's near-miss in Dallas through the subsequent political earthquake of 1964-1966. Zabel's novel is cleverly presented as a commemorative retrospective assembled by contemporaneous journalists on the staff of a fictitious newsmagazine, Top Story -- and incorporates into the narrative realistically designed faux-magazine covers depicting JFK with those luminaries he gets to meet only in Zabel's parallel universe.
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Intelligent and thoughtful