Larry J. Sabato's "The Kennedy Half Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy" (Bloomsbury: 606 pp., $30) gives a lot of space to the assassination, but to call it an assassination book is to miss the point. Rather, it's an in-depth look at the role of the killing in cementing his memory as an American martyr, invoked by politicians of both parties over the half-century since. Sabato uses Kennedy as a lens through which to examine contemporary history, in which image is as essential as policy. "For Democrats, he is in the permanent pantheon of party saints," he writes, although "many modern Democrats have forgotten just how conservative many of JFK's policies were."
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