I have had an Audible subscription for a while–long enough to have acquired all of the Harry Potter books (save the most recently published one) and several more titles with my credits. However, audiobooks are not my go-to; I much prefer reading a book over listening to it. Since I’ve spent an unusual amount of time driving this summer, I’ve come to personally appreciate audiobooks. Audible isn’t really enough to keep up with the DLM’s affinity for audiobooks, though. In the years since the girls were preschoolers and primary schoolers, CDs–their favorite thing next to mama reading to them– have just about entirely gone the way of the dodo. Enter Hoopla. It’s so much easier to just make a few clicks on my iphone to fix the DLM up with a quality audiobook via our library’s Hoopla offerings. Free, high quality–what’s not to love?
When I was looking for something that the girls and I could enjoy together on Hoopla, “The President Has Been Shot!” by James L. Swanson caught my eye. Truthfully, it caught my eye because it’s short (about four hours long, perfect for us) and because I recognized the author. We enjoy history a lot, so I figured this one would at least be enjoyable to me and probably would be to them, as well. Well, this one is definitely a winner. The best word I can think of to describe it is spellbinding. The story itself is, of course–even if you already know it (or think you know it). Swanson provides details that I didn’t know, mostly because I’ve never studied modern U.S. History in depth. (In other words, he doesn’t make any startling revelations or anything, but that didn’t make it any less interesting to me. On the contrary, I wondered through the whole thing how I could possibly have as much history “knowledge” and not know the details he shares in this book!) The content of the story is perfect–plenty of background information about both JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald. Early in the story we even get to hear JFK himself in some of his recorded speeches. The pacing of the story picks up, as it should, as we get closer and closer to that fateful day in Dallas, coming to a climax in a minute-by-minute and even second-by-second account of the assassination. The aftermath, especially Jackie’s reaction and courage, had me by the heart. I don’t think I ever really grasped fully the personal tragedy of this story until I listened to this audiobook. The utter pathos of it left me speechless. Although it’s not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, this is an excellent recounting of a very important event in U.S. History, and one that would make an excellent addition to any U.S. History study. Will Patton’s narration is perfect in tone and pacing for this tragedy, and this is one case where I’d recommend the audiobook over the book. Highly, Highly Recommended. (Scholastic, 2013)