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The Only 5 Books You Need to Read on the Kennedy Assassination

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With more than one hundred fifty books on the assassination of President Kennedy published this year alone, making an educated reading choice on the subject can be a dizzying affair. From those in the lone gunman camp to the Cuba-suspicious, assassination theorists run a wide gamut. But never fear, dear reader—we’re here to help! Below, find our vote for the five essential texts on the Kennedy assassination. Read these—and nothing else matters.

1. Oswald’s Game  by Jean Davison


POINT OF VIEW: The lone gunman unplugged

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Davison delves into the psychological core of Lee Harvey Oswald, exposing a deeply motivated, troubled assassin. One New York Times–bestselling expert called it “insightful.”

2. With Malice  by Dale K. Myers


POINT OF VIEW: The truth about Officer J. D. Tippit and Oswald.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: The murder of Officer Tippit just 45 minutes after President Kennedy’s assassination led to a bevy of questions, which Myers answers once and for all with exclusive photographs and documents—and his animation sequences are legendary.

3. Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye  by Kenneth P. O’Donnell and David F. Powers


POINT OF VIEW: Details from JFK’s close confidants Kenneth P. O’Donnell and David F. Powers.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Members of Kennedy’s “Irish Mafia” provide an intimate portrayal of their friend Jack, from his first campaign to the day of his assassination in November 1963.

4. Case Closed  by Gerald Posner


POINT OF VIEW: The lone gunman theory

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Gerald Posner addresses—and refutes—the many conspiracy theories (mafia, second shooter, and CIA) surrounding November 22, 1963, asserting, “Fifty years after the assassination, the biggest casualty has been the truth.”

5. Not in Your Lifetime  by Anthony Summers


POINT OF VIEW: All of the above

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Summers acknowledges Americans’ doubts about the lone gunman theory and addresses speculation of a heretofore unnamed assassin while objectively exploring all aspects of the murder mystery still haunting our nation 50 years later.

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Quotes from 13 Influential Writers for Women's Equality Day
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On August 26, 1920, the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution went into effect, giving women the right to vote (though some would argue that it actually was taken by women voters). First introduced to Congress in 1878, it took nearly a half century for the women's suffrage movement to get the sucker down on paper.

In anticipation of tomorrow's Women's Equality Day—legislated by Congress in 1971 to commemorate the certification of the nineteenth amendment—we're celebrating some of history's feistiest and most influential female writers.

1. Erica Jong

Our favorite Jong quote: "You see a lot of smart guys with dumb women, but you hardly ever see a smart woman with a dumb guy."

Required reading: Fear of Flying

Jong's iconic novel Fear of Flying firmly established her as one of her generation's foremost voices on sex and feminism.

2. Gloria Steinem

Our favorite Steinem quote: "Now, we are becoming the men we wanted to marry."

Required reading: Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions

Steinem's Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, a collection of her most provocative essays, showcases her trademark wit and humor. ("If Men Could Menstruate" and her famed underground exposé "I Was a Playboy Bunny" are particular standouts.) 

3. Simone de Beauvoir

Our favorite de Beauvoir quote: "To be free is not to have the power to do anything you like; it is to be able to surpass the given toward an open future."

Required reading: The Ethics of Ambiguity

Best known for her landmark work, The Second Sex, de Beauvoir's The Ethics of Ambiguity is not to be overlooked. Here, she grapples with male contemporaries Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty as she explores the idea of existence and prescribes a guide to personal freedom. 

4. Helen Gurley Brown

Our favorite Brown quote: No contest. "Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere."

Required reading: Sex and the Single Girl

Sex and the Single Girl, the spirited manifesto by Cosmopolitan's long-reigning editor in chief, puts women—and what they want—first. 

5. Alice Walker

Our favorite Walker quote: "The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any."

Required reading: In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens

An early collection of her nonfiction work, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens is a moving manifesto of Walker as a young artist. 

6. Mary McCarthy

Our favorite McCarthy quote: "I'm afraid I'm not sufficiently inhibited about the things that other women are inhibited about for me."

Required reading: The Group

Before there was Sex and the City, there was Mary McCarthy's The Group. This frank and controversial novel centers on eight women from Vassar who share intensely real experiences of womanhood, from child rearing to sexual awakenings.

7. Alix Kates Shulman

Our favorite Shulman quote: "We reject the notion that the work that brings in money is more valuable. The ability to earn more money is a privilege which must not be compounded by enabling the larger earner to buy out of his/her duties and put the burden either on the partner who earns less or on another person hired from outside."

Required reading: A Marriage Agreement and Other Essays

Shulman's essay collection A Marriage Agreement and Other Essays spans four decades of feminism, illustrating how each generation, in Shulman's words, "can do no more than add its bit to the endless river of consciousness and change." 

8. Fay Weldon

Our favorite Weldon quote: "Nothing happens, and nothing happens, and then everything happens."

Required reading: Female Friends

A smart novel representing the struggles of three women making their way through a world run by men, Female Friends speaks to just how far we've come. 

9. Dalma Heyn

Our favorite Heyn quote: "If she can annihilate her self altogether and still manage to seem contented, then she has achieved the additionally heroic feat of holding on to her femininity—that elusive quality women are always in danger of losing whenever their selves threaten to burst through all the constraints."

Required reading: The Erotic Silence of the American Wife

Wonderfully shocking, The Erotic Silence of the American Wife is a groundbreaking book in the quest to better understand marriage—and its unspoken effects on women's and men's relationships.

10. Pearl S. Buck

Our favorite Buck quote: "Let woman out of the home, let man into it, should be the aim of education. The home needs man, and the world outside needs woman."

Required reading: Imperial Woman

Imperial Woman tells the full story of Tzu Hsi, a legendary female leader of the Forbidden City who gains enormous power even under harsh gender expectations. 

11. Suzanne Braun Levine

Our favorite Levine quote: "The best thing a man can do for his health is to be married to a woman. One of the best things a woman can do for her health is to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends."

Required reading: You Gotta Have Girlfriends

You Gotta Have Girlfriends is Levine's exploration and exaltation of the friendships we form with the women in our lives and the benefit of those friendships to our emotional and physical health.

12. Ruth Gruber

Our favorite Gruber quote: "You should have dreams, you should have visions. Never let any obstacle stop you."

Required reading: Ahead of Time

Gruber's memoir Ahead of Time recounts her experiences as a young journalist at the start of what became a trailblazing and remarkable career in a completely male-dominated profession. 

13. Erma Bombeck

Our favorite Bombeck quote: Where to start? There are so many to choose from. But it's hard to beat this one: "A friend never defends a husband who gets his wife an electric skillet for her birthday."

Required reading: Motherhood

Motherhood is Bombeck's hilarious and caring exploration of the world's most demanding job and stands as a testament to the strength of mothers everywhere.

 

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8 Ebooks to Feed Your Brain This Summer
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Summer reading is most often associated with racy romances and white-knuckle thrillers. But why not spend those extra hours of daylight flexing your mental muscles instead? Here are eight ebooks that will feed your brain and keep you entertained at the same time. Bonus: each of these ebooks is on sale for $3.99 or less until July 22. So stock up. Your brain will thank you.

1. Chaos by James Gleick

This blockbuster book first brought the butterfly effect to the forefront of general knowledge. True, chaos theory is pure mathematics—with some physics, engineering, and economics to boot—but Gleick breaks it down with a novelist's touch. Play professor at your next dinner party and regale your friends with mind-bending facts such as:

Fact #1: Chaos might not be the most accurate name for this brave new field—rather than referring to utter randomness, chaos theory moves past Newtonian physics and refers more to a given scientific phenomenon's unpredictability.

Fact #2: The famous red spot on Jupiter is a perfect example of chaos theory. After the Voyager 1 spacecraft took detailed photographs of the spot in 1979, scientists were able to actually observe a hurricane-system of swirling gas. They found that the spot is a self-organizing system that owes its existence to unpredictable phenomena. In other words, its structure is ultimately regulated by chaos.

2. Moon Shot by Jay Barbree

The gripping story of America’s space exploration from the time of Alan Shepard’s first flight until he and 11 others had walked on the moon. It's not rocket science per se, but you will still learn enough about the history of the space program to be way ahead of the curve when that much talked about Mad Men in Space show hits the airwaves. Among the impressive facts you'll pick up:

Fact #1: In addition being the second person to walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin was the first person to take communion (or should we say "comoonion"?) on the moon. Yep, you read that correctly; Aldrin wished to mark the occasion and give thanks by taking a thimble-full of wine and wafer prepared by his pastor.

Fact #2: Another amusing fact about Aldrin: his mother's maiden name was Moon.

3. Annapurna by Maurice Herzog

An engrossing first-hand account of the first expedition in history to summit and return from  Annapurna I, a peak over 8,000 meters high. Originally written in author Michel Herzog's native French, Annapurna remains just as gripping today as it was on its first publication over 50 years ago.

Fact #1: "Annapurna" is Sanskrit for "full of food." More colloquially, the name refers to the goddess of the harvest, or the "universal goddess."

Fact #2: In May of this year, The Economist reported that Annapurna is the world's deadliest summit, with a mortality rate for climbers of over 34 percent since 1950. In comparison, the statistic is just 4 percent for those who attempt to climb Everest.

4. West with the Night by Beryl Markham

One of the greatest adventure books of all time, this engrossing memoir is less about challenging your intellect and more about feeding your soul. Deftly written and heartfelt, this mediation on a life well lived will inspire your own fearless spirit.

Fact #1: Markham was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west.

Fact #2: Another European ex-pat living in Africa, Karen Blixen (otherwise known by her pen name Isak Dinesan) befriended Markham while they were both living in the countryside outside of Nairobi. In the film adaptation of Blixen's memoir, Out of Africa, actress Suzanna Hamilton portrays a character based on Markham.

5. Summer of '49 by David Halberstam

Halberstam’s classic #1 bestseller transports us to one magical summer when baseball’s fiercest rivalry captured the nation’s imagination and changed the sport forever. America's pastime is also a font of fascinating trivia. Impress your friends with facts from one of baseball's most memorable seasons ever:

Fact #1: The '49 baseball season took sibling rivalry to a whole different level as Joltin' Joe DiMaggio of the Yankees and Dom "Little Professor" DiMaggio of the Red Sox were pitted against each other. The latter went on to sustain a 34-game hitting streak in July and August.

Fact #2: Summer of '49 has been regarded as an allegory for a simpler time. A contemporary sports broadcaster even went so far as to claim that it was "the last moment of innocence in American life." Paul Simon, the son of a devoted Yankees fan, recalls this loss of innocence in his famous song "Mrs. Robinson," in which he laments the famous center fielder's absence in American sports culture.

6. Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox by James MacGregor Burns

Pulitzer-Prize winner James MacGregor Burns' engrossing biography of FDR covers the beloved president's life from his year of birth to 1940. Dense with detail but wildly absorbing as a narrative, Burns provides a circumspect and detailed account of the great president's life and career, including details such as:

Fact #1: Despite the demands of navigating the country through an economic depression and a world war, Roosevelt made time for his favorite hobby: stamp collecting. At the end of his life, he had amassed over one million in his collection. 

Fact #2: Though he enjoyed the longest term in office held by any president, Roosevelt made an unsuccessful bid for the Vice Presidency in 1920; he was defeated by Warren G. Harding and his running mate Calvin Coolidge.

7. Muhammad Ali by Thomas Hauser

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Is there any other boxer who has attained as mythic a status as Muhammad Ali? Featuring interviews with friends, family, rivals, this definitive biography contains everything you need to know about the boxing legend, including these little known facts:

Fact #1: Ali did not box from age 25 to 28, prime years for an athlete. A fierce opponent of the Vietnam War, in 1967 he was banned and his license was suspended in response to his refusal to join the military. It was restored in 1970.

Fact #2: Before he was known as "The Greatest," Ali was known as the Louisville Lip, a nickname which references his hometown.

8. Paris Revealed by Stephen Clarke

Ah Paris! Few burgs have inspired as much reverie as this famed capital. British ex-pat Stephen Clarke shares his savoir-faire in this irreverent outsider-turned-insider guide, packed with tips and surprising facts such as:

Fact #1: Americans might not be the only ones who regard Parisians as unduly snooty—survey says that their compatriots agree. A 2010 poll by a French national news magazine found that most French people from the outer provinces regard Parisians as "arrogant, aggressive, stressed, snobbish and self-obsessed..."

Fact #2: Rumor has it that crickets abound in the Paris metro. Many travelers have reported hearing the insects chirruping, and there is even a league devoted to protecting these critters. Founded in 1992, the Protection League for the Crickets of Paris Metro are campaigning to convert an unused metro station to an auditorium of sorts where the subterranean crickets would be able to sing and breed in peace.

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