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Alum David Benjamin's They Shot Kennedy Among Winners at 31st Annual Midwest Book Awards

David Benjamin (Benjie), novelist and Board of Visitors member, graduated from Madison La Follette High School in 1967. He's a prolific author and his latest book, They Shot Kennedy, won the Midwest Independent Publishers Association award for Fiction - Literary/Contemporary/Historical at the 2021 Midwest Book Awards.


They Shot Kennedy takes place in a fictional Madison High School in the tumultuous month of November 1963. Its teenage protagonist, Franklin Roosevelt Cribbs, known to his friends as Cribbsy, suffers a series of madcap mishaps and romantic tangles as the month proceeds, only to come face-to-face with historic tragedy on the day that President John F. Kennedy dies in Dallas. The story is a dramatic, lively and often comic unfolding of personal tribulations against a backdrop of national crisis.

As the nation mourns JFK, Cribbsy becomes an unwitting felon. He receives an unexpected overture from the yummiest girl in school. He faces a showdown with his raging nemesis. He knows what happened in the Art Room. And he has a conversation—both crushing and illuminating—with the Playmate of the Month.

A fellow Wisconsin writer, George Leopold, author of Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life & Times of Gus Grissom, has said of They Shot Kennedy, “David Benjamin revisits a timeless theme in his literary wheelhouse: the vicissitudes of early manhood, this time in an era when Jack Kennedy and Hugh Hefner were every high-school boy’s role models. The results, reminiscent of Jean Shepherd, are both poignant and hilarious.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR David Benjamin is lifelong storyteller. His works include The Life and Times of the Last Kid Picked, Three’s a Crowd, A Sunday Kind of Love, and three books published simultaneously in April 2019 with the launch of his new imprint, Last Kid Books: Almost Killed by a Train of Thought: Collected Essays, Summer of ’68 and Skulduggery in the Latin Quarter.

The latest additions to the Last Kid Books catalog are Black Dragon (July 2019), a political thriller set in Tokyo, and Jailbait (2020), the first in a series of mysteries featuring smalltown police chief Jim Otis.

Each of Benjamin’s first six Last Kid Books has won awards, including first-places in their genres for Almost Killed (Best Essay Collection, Independent Press Awards), Black Dragon (Best Political Thriller, NYC Big Book Awards) and A Sunday Kind of Love (Best Romantic Comedy, NYC Big Book Awards).

As a journalist, Benjamin has edited newspapers, published and edited several magazines, won more than ten awards, and authored SUMO: A Thinking Fan’s Guide to Japan’s National Sport.

His essays have appeared in publications that include the Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Examiner, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Wisconsin State Journal, Chicago Tribune, EE Times and Common Dreams.

Benjamin and his wife Junko Yoshida have been married for ages. They live sometimes in Madison, Wisconsin and sometimes in Paris.

You can buy They Shot Kennedy and learn more about David's work by clicking here.

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