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Publisher's Summary

On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back?

In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King - who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer - takes listeners on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

It begins with Jake Epping, a 35-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away: a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life - like Harry’s, like America’s in 1963 - turning on a dime.

Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession - to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world - of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there’s Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading, eventually of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful - and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.

©2011 Stephen King. All Rights Reserved. (P)2011 Simon & Schuster, Inc

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I Owe Stephen King An Apology

Stephen King On Writing is one of my favorite books, and I read it every couple of years. Half memoir, half writing “how to,” it is absorbing and delightful. I recommend it to my students and suggest that they read it every year.

However, that is the only one of King’s books that I’ve been able to read. I’ve tried many times, but kept getting bogged down after 20 or 30 pages. The stories were okay, but couldn’t hold my interest because the writing seemed too heavy handed, brutish, like he was typing with his fists.

So, after days of consideration, it was with great reluctance that I downloaded 11/22/63. The reviews were good, glowing, in fact, and I’ve learned to trust the opinions of Audible listeners. Plus, the book is more than 30 hours long, which the bargain hunter in me always finds attractive.

I just finished it tonight. It is a wonderful and fascinating story, based loosely on an English teacher’s obsession with Lee Harvey Oswald and the possibility of going back in time to prevent the Kennedy killing. I also enjoyed the love story, which the author handles with charm, humor and honesty.

The writing is wonderful, masterful, vivid, compelling. The characters are rich and deep, genuine, involved, and I find myself thinking about them and their lives often throughout the day. Life in small-town and big-town 1958 up to 1963 is mesmerizing, much as I remember it, with the constant but subtle hint of mysterious dangers to come.

You’ll get no more details from me, only a hearty endorsement. Well worth every minute, made doubly valuable by the excellent and interesting reading by Craig Wasson. Totally believable, wonderfully surprising, and, well, I was going to say something about the ending, but you'll want to find that out for yourself.

531 of 555 people found this review helpful

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Time Travel, History & Stephen King: Wow!!

This is a great book with a fantastic narrator. A compelling story that keeps you mesmerized from the first word and won't let you go. I love time travel and I love history. While I am not always a Stephen King fan, he is a great author and knows how to tell a story. And he really tells this one very very well ... and Craig Wasson, the narrator, is as good as they get.

Time travel is not King's usual genre, but he has the skill to do a brilliant job in a form that is extremely demanding. Not only is the form demanding, but readers are demanding: science fiction aficionados are knowledgeable readers. We are a nit-picky audience. To my delight, I was thrilled with this book. King did his homework, both in the history and for the genre.

If you are a fan of time travel fiction where the history is the focus and not the technology (a la Connie Willis), you will love this, If you are looking for a more typical Stephen King horror story, well, you do get a taste of Derry, Maine and there is a creep factor, but this is much more science fiction/ time travel/ history than classic King. If you're looking for horror, this isn't it.

Above all, this is a brilliantly well written, carefully crafted, and well researched novel with excellent narration. Top grades all around.

370 of 395 people found this review helpful

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Well researched historical fiction, great romance, an old story done in a new way, teasers, small horror, action, but mostly a movie theatre experience is what you get in this long, but short book.
Have you experienced a movie so good, so well done that you feel you are in it? When you walk out of the theatre it takes you a while to get your brain back to reality. This books is so well written and so well narrated, you will lose yourself in it. You will feel you are watching this on an I-max screen in 3D with surround sound. Compared to King most other authors are ALL HAT AND NO CATTLE. I DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU, to immerse yourself.

At least one reviewer has put down the romance. I am not a fan of romance novels, but I could not help falling in love with the main female character and wishing her all the best. I wanted so much for there to be a happy ending and I will not tell you how it ends. It may have been ROMANCE AT SHORT NOTICE, but when she says HOW WE DANCED, I cried. I am a macho man, so I will deny this, DON'T ASK DON'T TELL. I HAVE POUND CAKE.

The book is thoroughly researched, down to the price of a root beer and the rhyming games of jump roping little girls. I love historical fiction and welcome King to the genre. A BLAST FROM THE PAST, A PLATTER THAT MATTERS.

In this 30 hours plus story that goes by too quickly, King also touches on several themes that are near and dear to my heart. He talks about cities or towns with personalities. I moved around a lot as a child of a military family. It is something I noticed even as a kid. Today I deliver to several grocery stories and I find they have personalities all their own, even chain stories. I find empathy varies greatly in different people and charm can go a long way in a persons career. Lots of times it is not how smart you are, it is how charming you are that gets you ahead in life. IN GOD WE TRUST, ALL OTHERS PAY CASH.

I did have a few issues, most of them minor. The book had a few teasers, I found annoying. This story is way over done. Grimwood has a great book called Replay, written in the 70's about when King was thinking about writing this story, that is pretty damn good. A lot of time travel books have been written and those written by authors of King's generation love to go back and try and save Kennedy. They seem to think that had he lived, life would be so much greater now. I also think that King took the 5th on this and did not answer the question. It seems to be the main question of the entire book and after thirty hours he does not answer it. I did not care for THE PAST HARMONIZES, aspect of the book and felt it detracted from the story. I also worry about glorifying the past. I remember when people in customer service type jobs totally sucked. I remember dreading going to the Dept. of Rev. cause of the mean hateful old ladies that worked there. You would stand in line for hours and when you got to the head of the line they would tell you, you needed to go to another line. When you walked into a hamburger joint the teenager behind the counter, would usually make it plain she rather be anywhere else then taking your order. Companies today have trained their people to be better in customer service and most seem to be happy to help. I remember bias ply tires and cars that broke down after 100,000 miles. In my day you better know how to change a tire. I have shopped at Western Auto stores, I much prefer Lowe's. I won't even go into civil rights, Women's rights, less freedom of speech and the cast system that was much more pronounced in the old days. We are better today then we were in the 60's. ASK ME NO QUESTIONS AND I'LL TELL YOU NO LIES.

This narrator is excellent and I loved the secret voices he added. Listen carefully and tell me if you don't hear, Burt Lancaster, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and John Houseman. Oh, they may not be perfect, but I liked them.

140 of 151 people found this review helpful

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The Novel Stephen King Was Born To Write.

Let me start with a quick public service announcement; if you have not read Stephen King's "IT", you may want to hold off on this book until you read that story. The first third of this book does deal with the town of Derry, and the history of evil within the town. Readers who have not yet read "IT" will still enjoy this book, and knowing the back story to Derry is not a prerequisite for following or enjoying this book; that said, readers that HAVE read "IT", (and, to a lesser extent, any of King's other books dealing with Derry), will have an enhanced enjoyment of these sections, along with the parallels drawn between Derry and other locations later in the story.

As others have previously shared, this is not a horror novel. While the overall "big picture" of the plot hinges on a man's "Great Adventure", the vast majority of the telling is focused in on the individual trees, rather than the forest (if you will). Most of the text is a day to day recounting of a man's life, and the pacing is slow. Not bad slow - but slow, nonetheless. The book is broken into 4 files for download, and the slow pacing is especially true of the 2nd, 3rd, and the first half of the 4th file. The beginning is faster paced, as is the conclusion of the story. It's a subtle story of a man's intentions, and as a story of that, it is genuinely beautiful.

There was a distinct danger of this book turning into a version of "Groundhog Day", and King dodges the possible pitfall artfully.

The Narration, as performed by Craig Wasson, is a revelation. As shared in a previous review, he IS the character of Jake, sharing his story with you; with all the happiness, sorrow, humor, and doubt that comes with life. He did a spectacular job. There were a handful of places where it appeared another narrator had "pinch hit" on a phrase or sentence; I'm not sure what that was about, but they did a good job getting a very similar voice and it didn't happen often.

To my recollection, I've never teared up while listening to an audiobook before; but this book brought me to tears 5 times; sometimes out of heart-wrenching tragedy, sometimes out of awe of the beauty and kindness of people.

All in all, this is a book about kindness, and good intentions. From the first page to the stunning conclusion, it gave me a reminder of how truly good people can be, and for that, I want to thank Mr. King.

I hope you enjoy it nearly as much as I did.

312 of 342 people found this review helpful

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  • J.
  • 11-11-11

Time travel from the mind of Stephen King

Let me preface this by saying I am not one who seeks out Stephen King books, nor am I one who reads or listens to much fiction, but this is the best audio adaptation I have heard in years from any genre. This novel expands on what I like about King's short stories and ties a modern vantage point to the late 50's early 60's experience. Craig Wasson is perfect for the narration as I never felt I was being "read" to. Listening to him reminded me that there is an art to both the writing and the telling of stories and this story drew me in quickly and kept me enthralled.

172 of 197 people found this review helpful

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Already one of my all-time favorite books!

What did you love best about 11-22-63?

The protagonist, Jake, is wonderfully real, good hearted, and relatable. The world of 1958 & forward is so brilliantly detailed! I can't wait to re-read so that I can be there all over again! (Oh, except for maybe the Derry part which is SCARY!!) ;-)

Who was your favorite character and why?

I love the character of Jake because the reader gets to experience this amazing world along with him. He feels like an old friend by the time his (and the reader's) journey is over. I also loved the characters of Sadie, Al, and Deke.

What about Craig Wasson’s performance did you like?

He does great voices for the marginal characters, but his portrayal of Jake helps a lot to make that character even more human and relateable.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This story evoked both a lot of laughter and a lot of tears from me. I haven't loved a new book this much in a long long time!

Any additional comments?

This book is fascinating, beautiful, and heartbreaking. It's a masterpiece!

92 of 106 people found this review helpful

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This book makes me wish I gave 5 stars less often

This book makes me wish I gave 5 stars less often, so my rating would truely show the beauty that has been created here! Where do I start? I will go with the reader. Craig Wasson reminds me of, previously thought unmatched, Frank Muller! I say this with great surprise as Mullers work is simply beautiful art that I have never heard matched. He had a way of bringing me along on each journey and making each word believable and each character real. To me Mr. Wasson is doing what only Muller has done for me in an audiobook. I feel the pain and the choices, heck, I found mysel emotionally tied to this new book after 20 minutes. I just don't ever do that. Anyway, I think you get the point. On to the Story: I will not spoil this wonderful/beautiful book here but will just say this book, in my opinion, would be loved by most any person that reads books for the characters in a story. The realism, the plot, the emotion and the fun of this book is, well, I wont say because I really don't want to become even more repetitive than I already have so you can take any of the above descriptions and add it here. If you love King, heck if you don't even like him I would still believe that this book has a really good chance of becoming a favorite of yours. I will say one thing that I do not like about King and that is the bad language. I do not curse and haven't in many years so I cringe every time but it is life it seems and compared to many others it still comes out mild in comparison.
I wish you good reading, as I think most will love this one

126 of 149 people found this review helpful

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A Layer-Cake of Thought-Provoking Notions!

Wow - this is one hell of a story! It's filled with moment's that make you pause and wonder, "What would I do if given that chance?"

One again and as always, the characters are so alive, you would think you actually know them from somewhere; like an old friend. This story is about so much more than Kennedy. It's layer upon layer of the human condition, with rich turns and challenges most of us would never want to face. The end brought tears to my eyes, and left me with such mixed emotions and internal conversations, my brain will be busy for a long time trying to sort it all out.

The narrator is phenomenal! One of the BEST I've ever heard! If there's an award, better give it to HIM! No one would deserve it more!

79 of 96 people found this review helpful

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  • Ed
  • 12-08-11

A great ride

This was actually my first Stephen King novel. I've seen several of the movies based on his books but this was my first read/listen. The ending of this book was good, but the ride that took you there was even better. When you spend 30 hours listening to a book, it had better be good. This one was. Great characters, great dialogue and excellent narration by Craig Wasson. I felt like Jake was my friend by the time the book ended. I'd have more to say but it would involve spoilers. Need to make productive use of 30 hours? Download this book.

77 of 95 people found this review helpful

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The King is Back

I've been a loyal fan having read every book of Stephen King since I was in high school in the late 1970's. His genious for writing epic novels populated with clearly defined, well rounded characters is astounding. Craig Wasson does a great job bringing the book to life.

This production does not disappoint. It is the audio equivalent to a page turner.

106 of 137 people found this review helpful