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If President John Kennedy had survived the ambush at Dealey Plaza a half-century ago, what other twists might history have taken? In his meticulously researched novel, Surrounded by Enemies: What if Kennedy Survived Dallas?, author Bryce Zabel delivers a supercharged but plausible alternative narrative of that era, dramatizing what would have happened had the charismatic president escaped unscathed on November 22, 1963.

Writers Guild award-winning TV writer/producer Zabel boldly re-imagines a shocking post-1963 political scenario that is painfully disruptive to the nation, culminating in a Constitutional crisis and even calls for the president’s impeachment. Without resorting to sci-fi gimmicks, Zabel instead explores what we now know about the underbelly of JFK’s presidency to portray him returning to a very different Washington, D.C. where the stakes are high and the rules have changed. After all, someone had just tried to execute Kennedy in broad daylight on a public street in front of a national television audience. President Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, essentially become the first conspiracy theorists, determined to strike back at their enemies.

“I have always had a deep love for classic “What If?” stories but the best ones are often the alternate events that probably came within a milli-second of actually happening. That is precisely what Bryce Zabel has done here, painstakingly designing JFK’s life post-1963. I have some experience with shattered timelines and altered realities but this one kept me guessing every page.”

-Damon Lindelof, writer/producer, Lost, World War Z, Star Trek


The provocative and compelling narrative covers the period from Kennedy’s near-miss in Dallas through the subsequent political earthquake of 1964-1966. We witness the president interact with his family and close circle of famous friends and colleagues, with the colorful politicians and government leaders of that era, and with such Sixties icons as the Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, boxer Cassius Clay and astronaut Neil Armstrong.
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Zabel’s novel is cleverly presented as a commemorative retrospective assembled by contemporaneous journalists on the staff of a fictitious newsmagazine, Top Story – and incorporates into the narrative wittily designed faux-magazine covers depicting JFK with those luminaries he got to meet only in Zabel’s parallel universe. Bryce Zabel’s Surrounded by Enemies literally breathes new life into the Kennedy years, and intimately portrays a decade even more surreal than the one found in conventional history books.

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