What if JFK had lived?

There are plenty of alternate histories about JFK surviving an assassination attempt in Dallas. Examples include:

  • Simon Burns, "What if Lee Harvey Oswald had missed?" published in Prime Minister Portillo… and other things that never happened: A Collection of Political Counterfactuals (2003)
  • Robert Dallek, "JFK Lives," published in What Ifs? of American History: Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Might Have Been (2013)
  • Jeff Greenfield, If Kennedy Lived: The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy: An Alternate History (2013)
  • Robert Rienzi, It Rained in Dallas (2002)

They tend to have in common:

  • Kennedy withdrawing from Vietnam early.
  • Civil rights being delayed or enacted less comprehensively without Lyndon Johnson as president.

An exception is Chris Bunch's "Murdering Uncle Ho," published in Alternate Generals III (2005), in which Kennedy commits to defending South Vietnam. The war goes as poorly as it did in the real world and by 1970, a President Nelson Rockefeller (who in reality failed to win the Republican presidential nomination in 1964 and 1968) orders the assassination of North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh.

Then there's the crazy:

  • National Lampoon devoted its February 1977 issue to an imaginary fifth Kennedy term. America has withdrawn from Vietnam and normalized relations with China. Cardinal Richard Cushing is elected as the first American pope. A Summer Vatican is established in Coral Gables, Florida. When riots break out in Northern Ireland in 1969, Kennedy orders a military intervention. He stacks the Supreme Court with members of his family. Year after year, Kennedy forces Khrushchev to back down in missile crises in the Aleutian Islands, Virgin Islands, Bermuda… Richard Nixon runs against Kennedy in '64, '68, '72, '76, and loses every time.
  • In Camelot Revisited: The Alternate History of America Since November 22, 1963 (1996), Alex Jack imagines a war in Central America, the Soviets reaching the Moon first and America creating a fifty-first state, Camelot, in the middle of the country, devoted to progressive ideals.

What are some other (realistic) consequences of Kennedy surviving?

Are there any alternate histories I've missed?


  • Of course there are. Here's one: Bryce Zabel, Surrounded by Enemies: What If Kennedy Survived Dallas? (2014), much recommended.

    We can add Stephen King's 11/22/63 (2012) to the list, with an AH timeline in the last part.

  • Would JFK had had the political capital to leave early? It would have been seen as conceding another anti-Communist state to the Communists. Domestic opinion, particularly Catholic domestic opinion at the time, woukd pressure him to stay.

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