Regular price: $52.50

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    29,920
  • 4 Stars
    9,629
  • 3 Stars
    2,257
  • 2 Stars
    608
  • 1 Stars
    395

Performance

  • 4.7 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    29,273
  • 4 Stars
    7,281
  • 3 Stars
    1,654
  • 2 Stars
    340
  • 1 Stars
    262

Story

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    27,315
  • 4 Stars
    8,390
  • 3 Stars
    2,161
  • 2 Stars
    546
  • 1 Stars
    325
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Interesting look at time travel.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend to someone in for the long haul. Was not disappointed.

What other book might you compare 11-22-63 to and why?

More recent Steven King books, Not so much horror and terror but more suspence.

Which character – as performed by Craig Wasson – was your favorite?

Jake

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The end.

Any additional comments?


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great! Boring. Good again... Boring. Too long.

This Audible book is broken into four parts. It's very captivating and interesting in the first part as we learn how the time travel option works. Then it gets boring for long stretches while our first person narrator describes his daily life. The funny thing is, even the main character starts spying on Lee Harvey Oswald, it's still boring.

It's very frustrating to see a writer set up a great premise, then have his characters behave like idiots. Still, I was interested enough to stick with it until the end.

The narrator did a great job with the text and characters he was given.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Cynthia
  • Hixson, TN, United States
  • 02-03-12

First King Novel

Not being a fan of horror I had never read a King novel before. I had read his On Writing which I found excellent. I am a fan of time travel books and this time period seemed intriguing.

After reading King's On Writing I am shocked that he did not kill a few more of his darlings. The book was too long. The premise was great and the telling of the story was fine it just needed some serious editing. It would not have been too hard to knock about a 1/3 of the novel off. You could have done that by cutting out 3/4 of 'the past is obdurate' lines.

I was also not a fan of the narrator and may have enjoyed the length of the book more if the voice hadn't grated on me so much.

Overall it was a great story by a great storyteller but the writing was weak and the narration poor.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

another Great story

The story is great, the narrative is wonderful. Lots of hours of entertainment. Thank you

25 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Sue
  • Flower Mound, TX, United States
  • 11-09-11

LOVE it!!!.

Only a couple hours in and I am dreading it being over. LOL. The narrator is awesome and doing a job above and beyond. The storyline is excellent and I have no clue where it is going to go so that makes it even more exciting. I highly recommend this book....especially if you have a credit.

36 of 55 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Robert
  • SOUTH PASADENA, CA, United States
  • 11-12-11

SENSATIONAL!

My favorite King works have always been his stories more about people than about Horror.

This is my favorite Stephen King book of all.

30 of 46 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • B.J.
  • Minneapolis, MN, United States
  • 01-19-14

What's all the fuss about?

This book has an interesting premise. You can read about that in any number of the kazillion reviews that have been written. But the execution of it? Not so interesting. If this is a five-star listen, we need more stars to give out to really fabulous books.

The biggest question this book raised for me is this: at what point does an author have the right to dismiss all editors? I felt like this was a perfect example of a book that really would have gained from a big fat red pen. Truly, at least 100 pages could easily have been cut. That only would have removed the repetition. My guess is that at some point in time after you've made millions and millions for your publisher, no one will suggest editing. I think of the conversation going more like this: "Fabulous book. Wouldn't change a word. Here's your check. When can we get another?"

Many people have loved this book so take my review of it with a grain of salt. I did get sucked into the story - though continually commented on the need for editing. I thought it could have been much shorter and still had impact. It also could have gained from more lively narration.

21 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I have to admit, I loved it.

I don't want to be a Stephen King fan. Nevertheless, he knows how to tell a story! I have really liked some of his books in the past, and I really loved this book. It gave me so much to think about. I'm afraid I will have to read a few more King novels in the future. Darn it!

I was a kid when Kennedy was shot, and no explanation yet satisfies me as to what really happened. I didn't find an answer here either, but it was nostalgic to go back and revisit the scenes of that awful day. Everyone wishes it would never have taken place, but what if someone had stopped it? How different would things really be now? King stretches the imagination to the max, which is what he does best.

13 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Tracet
  • Hamden, CT, United States
  • 08-14-15

Save Kennedy, save the world

A few years back, my image of Stephen King was entirely made up of killer clowns and rabid dogs and possessed cars (there’s a thought: Christine as a killer clown car…), the grandpappy of a genre I had absolutely no interest in. I’d read a whole two King novels, one of them because I was forced, and never felt the need to explore further.

Idiot.

I still haven’t read much of his (all those books full of treasure – what a wonderful thought!), but what I have read has made me into a still-astonished fangirl. I mean, I never would have believed that Stephen King could make me cry at work – not “Oh God there’s something under my desk I think it’s a clown” crying but genuinely moved tears. But there I was, surreptitiously wiping my eyes as I listened via Audible. More than once.

He does beautiful, surprising things with words.

“My honors kids were juniors… but they wrote like little old men and little old ladies, all pursey-mouthed and ‘Oo! Don’t slip on that icy patch, Mildred!’”

“…Chased my headlights down Highway 77…”

“No wonder she looked like you could staple a string to the back of her dress and fly her like a kite.”

And:

It’s all of a piece, I thought. It’s an echo so close to perfect you can’t tell which one is the living voice and which is the ghost voice returning. For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see that the world is barely there at all. Don’t we all secretly know this? It’s a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dream clock chiming beneath a mystery glass we call life. Behind it, below it, and around it: chaos. Storms. Men with hammers, men with knives. Men with guns. Women who twist what they cannot dominate and belittle what they cannot understand. A universe of horror and loss – surrounding a single lighted stage, where mortals dance in defiance of the dark.

This is writing I want to wrap myself up in forever.

(I made a note of one exquisite line, and I still have to follow up on it: “Scaring people is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.” And I commented that that should be on the King family arms. And then I started wanting very badly to design the King coat of arms. When I find my pencils…)

I feel a bit ashamed of the fact that I’m so surprised at the warm loveliness of some of this. “Of course it went splendidly, as cream pie fights always do.” My God, that whole chapter was a joy that left me a little giddy as a reader and a little awed as a writer.

I love “The Land of Ago”. I adore “Little by slowly”, and am incorporating it into my vocabulary.

And this made, makes me very happy:
“What might that be, Miss Caltrop?” I asked. “Because I’ve got ice cream in here and I’d like to get home before it melts.”
She gave me a chilly smile that could have kept my French vanilla firm for hours.

“That probably should have told me something, but I had too much on my mind. His story was not the least of it. That’s the curse of the reading class: we can be seduced by a good story, even at the least opportune moments.” He is of my people.

“I know life is hard, I think everyone knows that in their hearts, but why does it have to be cruel as well? Why does it have to bite?”

It’s beautiful – and it’s terrifying. There’s no killer clown here, no dog foaming at the mouth, no vampires. Instead there’s something called the Jimla, which in its mystery and in its explanation is deeply unsettling. And there’s a broom, which isn’t what you expect, but which is at least as awful. The writing can have a rather pure simplicity to it – and it just goes to show that you don’t need all that much to create terror if you do it right. “Something was moving around upstairs.” *shudder*

And it’s not just a masterful way with words: his plotting is equally beautiful. The long long buildup makes actually finally getting to 11/22/63 rather like the first day of summer vacation after a long, long school year. It’s not often that the main event of a book is so very far into a long book, and yet suspense is maintained throughout. “Get rid of one wretched waif, buddy, and you could save millions of lives,” said Al Templeton, and it actually gave me chills. Because, come on: this is a cause worthy of Don Quixote. Whatever negatives can be brought against Kennedy, there’s such an aura of mythical unfulfilled promise about him that the whole premise of the book is irresistible, to Jake as well as the reader. Who knows? If Kennedy had lived, we might not have become tangled in Vietnam. We might have had a fuller, longer space program. Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. might not have been assassinated. Race relations might have improved faster, more thoroughly. Who knows? He was young, smart … promising. Who knows…

In the long, slow, gorgeous buildup of the book, Stephen King demonstrates that not only is he quite the expert on torturing his characters … he is also very good at torturing his readers. I don’t know when I’ve seen quite so much foreshadowing and “had I but known”: “Things between us might have progressed faster than they did, except for what happened during that halftime.” He uses this device a lot – but he’s so damned good at it, at making the outcome nothing you ever expected no matter how many hints he gave and how much you thought he was telegraphing, that what might elsewhere be an aggravation is, here, just another way of keeping up the suspense.

Al, who went first through time and taught Jake the little he has to work with, explained to him that time is obdurate. (That not-so-common word gets a workout in this book – it’s great.) The timeline as we know it fights any attempts to make changes. But, I thought, maybe all of the delays were to put Al just where he needed to be, not to try to stop him. I sigh for my innocence…

One thing I do wonder a bit is why Jake’s full concentration was on getting rid of Lee Harvey Oswald, the wretched waif, via the one method. He never seems to have considered other possibilities, which might have been a bit simpler and perhaps more foolproof. He also never seems to consider that if he had taken out Oswald earlier it would have prevented the second daughter’s conception. See “butterflies’ wings”, below.

The flapping of butterflies’ wings, that time-honored trope of time travel fiction, is here in full force. Jake avers that he does his best to avoid any extra flapping – but, in what may be the only real flaw I can think of, what Jake doesn’t seem to think of immediately is that his taking this apartment and that, this job and that, even this car and that, kept others from taking them. That’s a pretty significant flap. This doesn’t do to dwell on… In fact, this is the tale of an intelligent man – book smart, street stupid – who goes back in time with next to no preparation and doesn’t do too badly – until he really, really does. At one point I became so irritated with Jake’s ineptitude and what happened to him because of it that images of a scathing review and greyed-out stars in the rating area danced in my mind – and then it hit me. Of course he’s inept. Exactly how ept would anyone, any English teacher from 2011, from Maine or anywhere else, with exactly no time to prepare and no history of any of the kind of behavior George Amberson is forced into – how “ept” could anyone like that be in an alien time and – eventually – place? Of course Jake is inept. That’s kind of the point.

I’m so glad I opted for the Audible edition of this. The narrator, Craig Wasson, often sounds like Jimmy Stewart, which somehow was utterly perfect. Also, there are a lot of creepy things in the world, and one of them is a voice like Jimmy Stewart’s voicing Stephen Kingisms. The janitor’s father – Dunning – sounds like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. (I’m sure I’m missing a connection there.) And there were some pretty darn good Kennedy and Cronkite impersonations, as needed. Also? Chaz is awesome, cuz.

I seem to say this a lot lately, but – I learned a bit from 11/22/63. (For one thing, the mental lapse I’ve always suffered in trying to remember that date is now conquered, with the added bonus that I will always now know the birthday of the cousin who was born the day Kennedy was shot.) I didn’t expect the anti-Kennedy faction to be also anti-racist (in a paternalistic, no-really-segregation-is-better-for-everyone sort of way). I didn’t anticipate the inevitability of the fact that there were over 200 death threats against Kennedy on that Texas trip – a very relevant fact. I trust King’s portraits of the historical figures – and his sympathetic portrait of Marina takes away some of my usual unease at real people appearing as characters in novels (especially those still living, or with direct relatives still living). I couldn’t possibly have cared less how King portrayed the “waif” – and the almost reluctant (and very limited) sympathy which he also received, and which King forced me to also feel, caught me off guard.

In the end, the main thing I take away from this sprawling saga of time travel and love and fear is a deep affection for King’s characters. Harry Dunning. Al Templeton. Sadie Dunhill. George Amberson/Jake Epping. "Deke" Simmons, Ellen Dockerty, the kids. Even the Oswalds. I won’t forget them in a hurry. Ever. I’m probably going to apologize to Stephen King in every review I write of his books, because I was an ignorant twit when I dismissed his writing for all those years. Mea culpa.

Final comment: There’s a film adaptation coming! A series on Hulu – and filming started on June 9, 2015. Dang. Guess I’ll need to subscribe to Hulu.

11 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Enveloping, but on the long side...

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book to another person who might be an avid audiobook listener. I say this, because I found at some parts of this story, I was checking to see which part I was on, because the book is just a little too long. However, the performance of the narrator, and the story itself gets you so caught up, that I had a few

What did you like best about this story?

I liked the idea of time travel in the story, and some of the ways that it was explained how it worked. Although there are still some big holes in the premise, it was still very entertaining.

What does Craig Wasson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He gives the character of Jake Epping/George Amberson a humanity that wouldn't have come right off of the page. Also, Mr. Wasson gives a distinct voice and character to each player in the book.

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

I did laugh a few times, but when I started part 4 I started to wonder...

2 of 3 people found this review helpful