Search-icon

Top Down

A Novel of the Kennedy Assassination

By

Hardcover published by Random House (Random House Publishing Group)

have you read it? rate it!
Histogram_reset_icon
(1 REVIEW)
ADD TO MY SHELF
About This Book
In a riveting novel rooted in one of American history’s great “what ifs,” Jim Lehrer tells the story of two men haunted by the events leading up to John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
 
November 22, 1963. As Air Force One touches down in Dallas, ambitious young newspaper reporter Jack Gilmore races to get the scoop on preparations for President Kennedy’s motorcade. Will the bubble top on the presidential limousine be up or down? Down, according to veteran Secret Service agent Van Walters. The decision to leave the top down and expose JFK to fire from above will weigh on Van’s conscience for decades. But will it also change the course of history?
 
Five years after the assassination, Jack gets an anguished phone call from Van’s daughter Marti. Van Walters is ravaged by guilt, so convinced that his actions led to JFK’s death that he has lost the will to live. In a desperate bid to deliver her father from his demons, Marti enlists Jack’s help in a risky reenactment designed to prove once and for all what would have happened had the bubble top stayed in place on that grim November day.
 
For Jack, it’s a chance to break a once-in-a-lifetime story that could make his career. But for Van the stakes are even higher. The outcome of a ballistics test conducted on the grounds of a secluded estate in upstate New York might just save his life—or push him over the edge.
 
A page-turning historical novel with the beating heart of a thriller, Top Down could only have sprung from the fertile imagination of Jim Lehrer. Drawing on his own experience as an eyewitness to the events described, one of America’s most respected journalists has crafted an engrossing story out of the emotional aftershocks of a national tragedy.

Praise for Top Down
 
“Lehrer (formerly the anchor of PBS’s NewsHour) draws upon his experiences as a reporter in Dallas on November 22, 1963, for this unusual take on the Kennedy assassination. . . . A refreshing change from the usual conspiracy thrillers about the J.F.K. assassination.”Publishers Weekly
 
“A nice fictional counterpoint to the [many] nonfiction books coming out this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination.”BookPage
 
“PBS newsman and veteran fiction writer Jim Lehrer asks an intriguing question. . . . What if the Secret Service agent who decided not to equip the presidential limousine with its bubble top ended up blaming himself for John F. Kennedy's assassination? . . . It’s a promising plot, especially as a cultural take on the event that rocked the country a half-century ago.”—Associated Press
Show less
In a riveting novel rooted in one of American history’s great “what ifs,” Jim Lehrer tells the story of two men haunted by the events leading up to John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
 
November 22, 1963. As Air Force One touches down in Dallas, ambitious young newspaper reporter Jack Gilmore races to get the scoop on preparations for President Kennedy’s motorcade. Will the bubble top on the presidential limousine be up or down? Down, according to veteran Secret Service agent Van Walters. The decision to leave the top down and expose JFK to fire from above will weigh on Van’s conscience for decades. But will it also change the course of history?
 
Five years after the assassination, Jack gets an anguished phone call from Van’s daughter Marti. Van Walters is ravaged by guilt, so convinced that his actions led to JFK’s death that he has lost the will to live. In a desperate bid to deliver her father from his demons, Marti enlists Jack’s help in a risky reenactment designed to prove once and for all what would have happened had the bubble top stayed in place on that grim November day.
 
For Jack, it’s a chance to break a once-in-a-lifetime story that could make his career. But for Van the stakes are even higher. The outcome of a ballistics test conducted on the grounds of a secluded estate in upstate New York might just save his life—or push him over the edge.
 
A page-turning historical novel with the beating heart of a thriller, Top Down could only have sprung from the fertile imagination of Jim Lehrer. Drawing on his own experience as an eyewitness to the events described, one of America’s most respected journalists has crafted an engrossing story out of the emotional aftershocks of a national tragedy.

Praise for Top Down
 
“Lehrer (formerly the anchor of PBS’s NewsHour) draws upon his experiences as a reporter in Dallas on November 22, 1963, for this unusual take on the Kennedy assassination. . . . A refreshing change from the usual conspiracy thrillers about the J.F.K. assassination.”Publishers Weekly
 
“A nice fictional counterpoint to the [many] nonfiction books coming out this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination.”BookPage
 
“PBS newsman and veteran fiction writer Jim Lehrer asks an intriguing question. . . . What if the Secret Service agent who decided not to equip the presidential limousine with its bubble top ended up blaming himself for John F. Kennedy's assassination? . . . It’s a promising plot, especially as a cultural take on the event that rocked the country a half-century ago.”—Associated Press
Product Details
Hardcover (208 pages)
Published: October 8, 2013
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Random House
ISBN: 9781400069163
Other books byJim Lehrer
  • The Special Prisoner

    The Special Prisoner
    John Quincy Watson was a young bomber pilot flying the new B-29 Superfortress in a mission over Japan when he was shot down and taken prisoner. Designated a "special prisoner," as were all Allied airmen, he, along with his comrades, suffered and almost indescribably brutal POW experience under a vicious camp commandant that Watson, with his friends, dubs the "the Hyena." When a chance encounter years after the war brings Watson, now Bishop Watson, into contact with a man he believes to be the Hyena, the Bishop must struggle with an anger and a desire for vengeance he thought he had long put aside. The Special Prisoner is a taut and dramatic novel.

    Last Debate

    Last Debate
    It is the night of the presidential debate. The election is eight days away. Republican nominees James Meredith, a fundamentalist Christian whose ambitions border on white supremacy, is pitted against four reporters who have just discovered damaging information that could ruin his career. What unfolds during The Last Debate will change the course of electoral politics and the news business forever…. As "the ultimate insider-outsider" (Washington Post), and as a moderator of presidential debates past and present, journalist and PBS news anchor Jim Lehrer knows the world he writes about only too well. His novel—a satirical and absorbing story of the behind-the-scenes world of news journalism—also exposes the duplicitous posing and posturing of made-for-TV political events. And with the 2000 elections looming ahead, the targets of his satire—religious fundamentalists, self-important journalists, feral network programming heads—could not be more timely.

    Purple Dots

    Purple Dots
    A Novel
    Charles Avenue Henderson claims to want nothing more than to relax in rural West Virginia with his beloved wife Mary Jane and live the genteel life of a successful bed-and-breakfast proprietor. But readers of Lehrer's Blue Hearts will know that Henderson can turn at the drop of a hat from the lovely dinners of Rappahannock oysters with sweet potatoes allumettes to his old tricks as a CIA agent whenever he or someone he cares about is in trouble. In Purple Dots, it is Henderson's longtime friend and CIA protege Joshua Bennett who is threatened by a group of senators seeking to derail his nomination as director of the CIA. Purple Dots is both a page turning thriller and something of a spoof of the thriller genre. Henderson, our hero, gathers together all of his retired CIA friends in order to launch a counteroffensive against the senators and their efforts are sometimes ridiculously over the top. As with Blue Hearts and the Last Debate, Lehrer takes the reader on another tour of Washington with all of its vanities and local curiosities exposed. And the search for the famous and mysterious purple dot, the ultimate Washington perk, continues....

    Eureka

    Eureka
    A Novel
    Ever reliable and responsible, Otis Halstead is a father, a husband (one half of a “well-dressed couple of substance”), and the CEO of Kansas Central Fire and Casualty. He has never done anything out of the ordinary. Until now. The change in Otis starts with the acquisition of an antique toy fire truck, the exact model he had pined for at age ten but never received. Next comes a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun. But Otis’s real coup is the purchase of his one true childhood passion: a red 1952 Cushman Pacemaker motor scooter. For his baffled wife, Sally, this is the final straw. She insists that he see a shrink. But when tragedy strikes uncomfortably close to home, Otis decides he wants out of his sensible, safe life in Eureka, Kansas. And so, a few weeks before his sixtieth birthday, Otis leaves town, heading west on old U.S. 56, a corporate CEO riding a forty-year-old motor scooter with a BB gun strapped to the side. One might say he was in for an adventure. Otis would say he was finally about to experience life.

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
Quote Cannot be Empty

Submitted quotes are usually posted within 48 hours

ThanksYour Quote Will be posted Shortly
Bookish