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The Death of a President
710 pages; Arbor House
"This is a great piece of writing," Bill Paxton says of the 1967 opus—written with the Kennedy family's cooperation—about the JFK assassination and its aftermath. Paxton, who was raised in Fort Worth, Texas, saw the president's last public speech there, on November 22, 1963, before JFK headed to Dallas. "He was 20 feet from me," says the actor, who was 8 years old at the time. "What Manchester always said about the conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination was this: People just cannot accept that John Kennedy was on one side of the scale and Lee Harvey Oswald was on the other. It doesn't balance. It's hard to believe we live in such a random universe, so to make sense of this kind of violence, we have to decide that Oswald was a puppet of more powerful people. This book is really interesting stuff. It is human stuff."
— As told to Sara Nelson