11/22/63 by Stephen King is the best novel I have read in some time. I devoured this 849 page doorstop in a little over a week. I'd been wanting to read it since it came out, but waited, because I had other things in line to read first, including King's Under The Dome, which was also magnificent in it's own way.
King's storytelling has always been super-duper, but in these last two novels he has really hit a stride. I haven't read all of King's catalog, but I have read lots; we used to read his books and Sly B and I would agree "he does a great middle" but petered out often with his endings for us -- not true for 11/22/63.
The premise of the story is in essence: If you could go back and affect a watershed moment that changed everything in America - think racism, war, poverty - would you do it even if it meant great sacrifice for you? I'm not going to say too much about the plot, but I will tell you that the pace of the novel is lightning-fast, and the characters are wonderful. I think another question that might be batted around a bit in the novel is: Did the assassination of JFK really get us to this point today? Would race relations, foreign relations, and poverty in America be what they are had he lived? Or is that just a nice fairy tale liberals tell ourselves when we don't know what to do or say about the state of our nation?
I don't have a lot of experience with historical fiction, but this one was really fun for me. I've spent some time in Dallas, and the novel spends a lot of time there with our main character stalking Lee Harvey Oswald and his family and circle for a few years. King isn't kind to Dallas, which does not break my heart. Our main character, Jake/George, brings a 21st century yankee liberal sensibility to the late 50s and early 60s America which helps readers understand, I think, what life was really like then and there and how we might have fared.
I can't recommend this novel highly enough. Check it out - you won't be sorry!