Stephen King’s JFK assassination book

It wouldn’t be a spoiler to say that the main character in Stephen King’s JFK book, 11/22/63, successfully prevents Kennedy’s assassination — this is revealed on the second cover, as King didn’t really want that to be a driving thought the reader has in reading it.  It is a spoiler to say what the result is for the future — though, maybe not the biggest spoiler possible (again, not a major driving force in the book, and sort of something you’d suspect), so skip this next paragraph or post or don’t care one way or the other.

It’s all pretty well sketchy anyway, as it’s something the character needs to take in very quickly.  And there’s a supernatural component that I don’t really like tossed in to “straighten” the histories — the Watts Riots happen immediately following the attempted Kennedy assassination because of earthquakes caused by the rupture of changing history trying to resort it.  And the earthquakes eventually lead Maine to secede to Canada.

But those things gotten out of the way…

As per suggestions of Doris and Dick Goodwin in discussing worst case scenarios of Kennedy surviving the assassination…

He is re-elected, but by a frighteningly narrow margin, against Goldwater.  This, at least, has some historical backing to it.  He limits Vietnam, and throws a lot of money at it.  He can’t get his Civil Rights measures through Congress.  And this next one is a little difficult to decide if it’s actually plausible.
George Wallace is elected President.
Hm.  I don’t know.  I’d have to think long and hard and about that.  I know what the historic forces at work that would bring about such a thing, but I’m doubtful.  Anyway, he drops the atomic bomb on Hanoi — or Vice President Curtis LeMay personally directs it.  (This is poetic sense, of course.)  A bit more implausible still, Arthur Beemer assassinates Wallace.  This is implausible — the historical record has Beemer seeking for months to assassinate President Nixon and falling back on his attempt on Wallace because he can’t get close to enough to Nixon — I’m not sure he’d have gotten close enough to a President Wallace.
It doesn’t mention that this would lead to a half a year interval of a LeMay Presidency, leading to the Hubert Humphrey Presidency — who then  loses to Reagan in a landslide.  And now we have the Iranian Hostage Crisis, which plays off with troop deployment and the launching of al Qaeda, though it’s referred to in this time stream by the English name “The Base” — and … Oddly my thought that a one term Humphrey Presidency would be followed by a Reagan Presidency is something I’ve already stamped out on this blog, so do with that you may.
Mostly I’m just pondering the Wallace Presidency and Beemer assassination, and not seeing it.

Well, clearly King had fun with this thought experiment, even if it’s something of a quick sketch.

I like this study guide question  — I’m sure it’ll be picked up by high school English teachers in the years ahead:

7.  Jake (or rather George) has to spend a lot of time in Dallas, which he experiences as a malevolent place.  Jodie, on the other hand, is everything an idyllic small town should be.  Do you believe that certain places are evil at certain times?

I don’t know how I’d answer that one.

I also note one small historical anachronism or inaccuracy, of sorts.  Kind of.  Entering a motel in Maine in 1958…
There were three stations.  The NBC affiliate was too snowy to watch no matter how much I fiddled with the rabbits, as on CBS the picture was rolled; adjusting the vertical hold had no effect.  ABC, which came in clear as a bell, was showing The Life and Lesson of Wyatt Earp [and from here we get an emphasis on the omnipresence of smoking in the past]
I suppose this is possible, but it wouldn’t be typical.  ABC was the lagging third network, and would not achieve parity with the other two until the late 1960s.  Indeed, when speaking of there being three networks, it would be said with an asterisk as with “two and a half networks”.  I don’t know if I care, and — again — “might be an exceptional place in the country” — and surely there’s more important historic anachronisms which would crop up for anyone paying attention and with a better head on the details of the years 1958 through 1963.

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