Jack and Jackie sailing at Hyannis Port. President Kennedy smiling and confident with the radiant first lady by his side in Dallas shortly before the assassination. The Zapruder film. Jackie Kennedy mourning at the funeral while her small son salutes the coffin. These images have become larger than life; more than simply photographs of a president, or of celebrities, or of a tragic event, they have an extraordinary power to captivate—today as in their own time. In Shooting Kennedy, David Lubin speculates on the allure of these and other iconic images of the Kennedys, using them to illuminate the entire American cultural landscape. He draws from a spectacularly varied intellectual and visual terrain—neoclassical painting, Victorian poetry, modern art, Hollywood films, TV sitcoms—to show how the public came to identify personally with the Kennedys and how, in so doing, they came to understand their place in the world. This heady mix of art history, cultural history, and popular culture offers an evocative, consistently entertaining look at twentieth-century America.
Marilyn Monroe, Sylvia Plath, Donna Reed, Playboy magazine, Jack Ruby, the Rosenbergs, and many more personalities, little-known events, and behind-the-scenes stories of the era enliven Lubin's account as he unlocks the meaning of these photographs of the Kennedys. Elegantly conceived, witty, and intellectually daring, Shooting Kennedy becomes a stylish meditation on the changing meanings of visual phenomena and the ways they affect our thinking about the past, the present, and the process of history.
Preface and Acknowledgments
1. Twenty-six Seconds
2. "Gentle Be the Breeze, Calm Be the Waves"
3. A Marriage like Any Other
4. Blue Sky, Red Roses
5. Hit the Road, Jack
6. Kennedy Shot
7. The Loneliest Job in the World
8. Down in the Basement
David M. Lubin, Charlotte C. Weber Professor of Art at Wake Forest University, is author of Titanic (1999), Picturing a Nation: Art and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century America (1994), and Act of Portrayal: Eakins, Sargent, James (1985).
“Lubin examines images from the life and death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy with wit, a keen eye and an extraordinarily broad range of reference. . . . For a book stuffed with provocative ideas, Shooting Kennedy's average is surprisingly good. The daring of Lubin's approach is as instructive as his often startling results.”—Publishers Weekly
“A fresh methodology for the contextualization of American historical events–and our perception of them–that is likely to be pursued for years to come. . . .The scope of this book is awesome and it never fails to grip our attention.”—Michael Kammen, Cornell University American Studies
“Compelling.”—Dallas Morning News
“Lubin reminds us that just as politicians define the world we live in, the arts define how we perceive it.”—J. Peder Zane News Observer
“‘Shooting Kennedy’ is a carefully researched and emotionally evocative treatment of a cultural and political watershed.”—Lou Marano United Press International
“Lubin offers some wondrous insights into how the Kennedys rose to fame above and beyond what they accomplished.”—Knight Ridder
“David Lubin . . . sends our gaze skyward with great verve and erudition. . . . Following Lubin is both exhausting and exhilarating.—Raleigh News & Observer
"[Lubin] accomplishes something rare in modern books, taking our preconceived notions about a well-known event and challenging us to expand our thinking. ‘Shooting Kennedy’ is not an obtuse book of academic art history. Although it is filled with minutiae about films, paintings, photographs and the Kennedys, it is highly readable. Lubin writes confidently with his own broad range of historical reference."—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“A fascinating cultural history.”—Frank Rich New York Times
"Lubin . . . think[s] that people don't read images so much as they read into images--that what they make of an image is conditioned by who they are and by what they already know. . . . Lubin puts pictures of the Kennedys next to Renaissance Madonnas, magazine advertisements, and television sitcoms. He has, admirably, no shame."—Louis Menand New Yorker
is a tour de force of cultural criticism and rhetorical analysis, managing to be both wildly playful and deadly serious, richly digressive and right on target, and not afraid to confront the ambiguities in Lubin's own--and our--responses to the trauma of the Kennedy assassination."—Miles Orvell, author of American Photography
"A path-breaking reflection on the Kennedy period in America, with its flash, its verve, its astonishing acceleration of image-flicker, and its singular and unforgettable heartbreak. David Lubin captures this complex not by chronologically mapping its mileposts, but by looking around-with focused attention, extraordinary range, and analytical insight--at what occupied Americans' imaginations and attention during the Kennedy years."—Richard Terdiman, author of Present Past: Modernity and the Memory Crisis
"One of the most readable and compelling books ever written on visual aspects of twentieth-century American culture. David Lubin engages some of the best-known images from the most image-saturated century in far-reaching dialogues with one another and with an imaginative array of artifacts drawn from photojournalism, the visual arts, movies, television, and other media. He makes astonishing yet convincing connections among these disparate cultural phenomena that will change the way readers think about life in the highly mediated world of the post-World War II United States."—George H. Roeder, Jr., author of The Censored War: American Visual Experience During World War II
Charles C. Eldredge Prize, Smithsonian American Art Museum