Interview & Giveaway | Surrounded By Enemies

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What if Kennedy survived Dallas?

President John F. Kennedy has lived through the ambush in Dealey Plaza. America holds its collective breath, seeing its president nearly executed in broad daylight. But as the country marches on, the office of the President finds itself under a much more insidious type of fire. Political scandal, an endless war, and a country coming apart at the seams take the 1960’s in a terrifying new direction, and both John and his attorney-general brother, Bobby, struggle to stay ahead of their enemies, political and otherwise, and steer America toward a greater future.
Bryce Zabel is a master of the cover-up and the conspiracy, creating the Emmy-award winning series DARK SKIES. SURROUNDED BY ENEMIES is the first novel in the new Breakpoint series—each book exploring seminal moments in popular history and taking readers on a journey into a mirror world where events are both unexpected yet startlingly believable.

This savvy, fiercely intelligent novel, perfect for readers of Harry Turtledove, brings together elements of political thriller and page-turning history, enthralling readers with a sharply written take on the America that was, and the America that could have been.

* from Diversion Books

“I have some experience with shattered timelines and altered realities but this one kept me guessing every page.”

~ Damon Lindelof, writer/producer of LOST, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

“Plausible development, building from what we know about what really did go on, and a whacking good story…SURROUNDED BY ENEMIES delivers on both, big-time. So hold on to your hats, folks. You’re in for quite a ride.”

~ Harry Turtledove, alternative history author, HOW FEW REMAIN

Why I Brought JFK Back to Life

by Bryce Zabel

It’s now been over half a century since the shots rang out in Dealey Plaza. With every year now, fewer of us can say that we lived through the shock and fury of those bullets. Even so, a common question continues to haunt both those who were alive then and those who weren’t:

What if Kennedy lived?

Almost since the assassination, writers have speculated about the great things President Kennedy would have done for the country and the world had his life been spared in Dallas. It’s commonly assumed he would have rolled back our Vietnam involvement, enacted landmark civil rights policy, made peace with the Soviets and even finished the attack on organized crime.

That upbeat scenario is probably wishful thinking. Kennedy had a definite to-do list for a second term, yes, but the forces in opposition to his presidency in 1963 were still organized and powerful. Let’s shade the question just a bit differently:

What if Kennedy survived the ambush in Dallas?

This new question that assumes a failed assassination attempt puts front-and-center the plain fact that Kennedy’s survival could not exist in a story vacuum, as if November 22, 1963 were just another day. After all, whether or not Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, the President of the United States still had been targeted for execution in broad daylight on a public street before a global television audience. Life would not have pinged back to normal if the assassin’s bullets had missed their target, whoever fired them.

Investigations would have been launched to determine if what just happened was an attempted professional hit, a failed political assassination, or the work of a crazed, lone gunman. In any case, the world would have been turned upside down during this period, raising an avalanche of questions and blowback on multiple fronts, particularly since the President would have been alive and asking these questions himself, along with some of the world’s most powerful allies, including a brother in charge of the U.S. Justice Department.

If there were conspirators, they and their target would have regarded each other like scorpions in a bottle. In a cascade of post-ambush cause and effect, these traitors who had plotted to achieve a coup d’état by public murder would have found President Kennedy now physically impossible to get at, protected by enhanced security.

That is the world of November 23, 1963 that Surrounded by Enemies: A Breakpoint Novel uses as its point of alternate history diversion. In this telling, the system comes unhinged, and the conspirators go after Kennedy by other means after their bullets fail.

There is no doubt that John Kennedy’s presidency was a high point in our nation’s history. What we didn’t know when we were living through it, however, was that President Kennedy’s reckless behavior behind the scenes — including marital infidelities, secret medical treatments and covert political operations — kept him always one headline away from disaster. Surviving a well-planned assassination attempt could not have made JFK’s personal weaknesses any easier to disguise. He also had enemies, at the highest levels of the U.S. government, with the means to lay bare the most intimate secrets of his private life. Had they done so, the President’s dark side clearly had the potential to destroy any second term the voters might have granted him.

In imagining that scenario, I’ve created a world where, over fifty years ago, history’s tree grew another branch. Where journalism and the counterculture ignited a political explosion over Watergate in the 1970s and led to Nixon’s impeachment in our world’s timeline, Kennedy’s battle with the treasonous forces of conspiracy in the 1960s in the alternative scenario probably would have triggered an implosion in JFK’s reputation. Rather than the steady drip of scandal we’ve experienced over the past five decades, the events surrounding a failed JFK assassination might have gotten seriously out-of-hand, and fast.

Many people continue to see The Warren Commission Report as the greatest work of American fiction published in the twentieth century. After a lifetime of casual reading on the topic compounded by this recent intensity of research, I’m simply swayed that whatever role Lee Harvey Oswald actually played on history’s grand stage, his was not a one-man show but one populated by and synchronized with multiple unseen actors. Apparently the American people agree here as polls taken for the fiftieth anniversary show that some 62 percent of the American public continue to think JFK died as the result of a conspiracy.

This division is nothing new. Even as Mark Lane was researching his classic Rush to Judgment book, the Byrds rewrote the popular folk song “He Was a Friend of Mine” to say, “His killing had no purpose / No reason, no rhyme.” In my opinion, that is the wrong sentiment wrapped up in a classic melody. Kennedy’s death most definitely had purpose, reason and rhyme to the killers who orchestrated it, and his survival, would have placed all that in graphic relief.

This alternative history what if depicts Kennedy as an enormously charismatic man whose intelligence, political mastery and legendary charm could not, ultimately, disguise his deeply human flaws. The plain reality is that Jack Kennedy had a lot of things he was hiding and there were numerous powerful men who wanted him dead. If those conspirators had taken their shots and missed, President Kennedy would have come back at them not only with a vengeance, but also with a carefully constructed strategy. The very existence of Attorney General Robert Kennedy and his family loyalty guarantees that.

As it turns out, I’ve come to see this entire story, despite its many working parts and vastly different points-of-view, as the story of two brothers. Had the shots fired in Dallas, Texas missed their target on November 22, 1963, they still would have set the 1960s ablaze, turning John and Robert Kennedy into the original conspiracy theorists. They might have coolly assessed the situation they were in and realized that they were surrounded by enemies, and prepared for battle.

Don’t Miss:


Author: Bryce Zabel
Source: Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours
Publisher & Date: Diversion Books, November 3rd 2015
Genre: Mystery, Alternate History
ISBN: 1626818290 (ISBN13: 9781626818293)
Pages: 265
Series: Breakpoint, 1

Author Bio:

BRYCE ZABEL: Writer/Producer – Journalist/Author

Creator of Five Produced One-hour Drama Series… Chairman/CEO of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences… Writer of a #1 Box Office Feature Film… Winner of the Writers Guild Award… PBS Investigative Reporter… CNN Correspondent… Nationally Published Book Author… Adjunct Professor, USC School of Cinematic Arts… member of Directors Guild, Writers Guild…

Worked with ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, HBO, Showtime, USA, SyFy, Disney, Warners, Columbia, SONY, Paramount, New Line, Twentieth, Universal, DreamWorks, Animal Planet, Hallmark, etc.

Produced screenwriting credits include Atlantis, Mortal Kombat II, Pandemic, Dark Skies, The Crow, E.N.G., Blackbeard, Poseidon Adventure, Lois & Clark, M.A.N.T.I.S., L.A. Law, Victim of Love, Official Denial, etc.

Appeared on Today Show, Primetime Emmys, E.T., Access, E!, Coast-to-Coast AM, Politically Incorrect, CNN, etc. Interviewed by Time, NY/LA Times, USA

Websites & Links: author's website twitter facebook


Tour Participants:

This is a giveaway hosted by Diversion Books for Bryce Zabel. There will be 8 winners of 1 eBook copy of Surrounded By Enemies by Bryce Zabel. The giveaway begins on November 1st, 2015 and runs through November 31st, 2015.


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