Fascinated by the Kennedy clan, the british writer R. J. Ellory has had the idea to see what could have been if John F. had lived a little longer.
This is not the first time that an author revisits the History, imagining what would have happened if… If the Spanish conquistadors had never landed in America (Civilizations of Laurent Binet), if Hitler had been accepted to the School of fine arts, Vienna (The part of the other Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt), if the nazis had won the Second world War (Fatherland by Robert Harris), or if, as the story goes, R. J. Ellory in The day when Kennedy is not dead, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had not been assassinated in Dallas on 22 November 1963.
“Some time ago, during a meeting, my editor said to me : “You wrote on the CIA, the FBI, the KKK, the New York police department, the underworld… Is there a topic of political history that you have not yet covered and you want to talk about ?” I answered yes, the presidency of JFK. But like many, many books have already been written on that man, my publisher thought that it would be best to choose a different angle, find a point of view which has not been exploited. “
And this point of view, it did not take long for him to jump in the eyes. “After death, JFK has become an icon,” continues R. J. Ellory, it was able to reach the phone from his home in Birmingham. But if he had not been murdered, is what it would have actually been able to convince the american population of the place at the head of the country a second time ? “
An officer disturbed
As everyone knows today, John F. Kennedy cheated on his wife Jackie countless times. One aspect of his life even less rosy ? His state of health, which really wasn’t awesome-awesome : in addition to his chronic back pain, Kennedy had serious problems with bowel and prostate cancer, was suffering from osteoporosis, degenerative, and was suffering from Addison’s disease, a rare disorder of the adrenal glands. In his bad days, he happened to swallow at the same time, more than a dozen different pills… with side effects should in turn be counteracted by other pills.
“For a world leader, it was in pretty bad condition,” adds R. J. Ellory. And the fact of mixing all these drugs (methadone, codéïne, Librium, Demerol, etc) has certainly not helped. The doctors who treated Kennedy still refused, however, to assert that this dangerous cocktail of medication did not affect in nothing his mental faculties and his powers of president. But, in fact, JFK was someone unpredictable, who would not always take the right decisions. I even think that it was a individual very upset. From there, a question arises : if he had not been killed in 1963, where his administration would have been willing to go to conceal the evidence that would have both been able to make him fall in disgrace and bring down the government ? I told myself that there was only one way to find out : grant to John F. Kennedy at least one more year. “
Win a second term ?
In this 13th novel by R. J. Ellory, the bullets of Lee Harvey Oswald will miss so little the head of the president. In July 1964, when the electoral race is in full swing, JFK will multiply as the public appearances and the feminine conquests, history of relieve a little pressure he has on his shoulders (and elsewhere !). A practical detail that the Kennedy administration is careful to reveal to the journalists, this type of pranks that could greatly contribute to promote the candidate of the republican Party.
It is in this unstable political context that Mitch Newman, a photojournalist, a freelance working in Washington, will learn that John Boyd, the talented journalist that he failed to marry a fifteen years earlier, committed suicide with sleeping pills. And not having anything better to do, Mitch would be pledging to his former mother-in-law to investigate the last days of his ex-fiancée. Detective work that will at all costs, to discover that at the time of his death, John was very close to the Kennedy clan. Too close, perhaps ?
In the end, a black novel perfectly mastered, which allows us to discover the face hidden for a long time the myth of JFK.
R. J. Ellory-Editions Sonatine
The day that Kennedy is not dead
R. J. Ellory-Editions Sonatine