I recently reviewed Volume I in this exceptional review of the murder of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963). Author John M. Newman returns in Volume II to the incredible story of the events leading up to Kennedy’s time in office and his untimely demise. Here we change gears and take a deeper look at the alleged defection of Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963) to the Soviet Union, the mob ties of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. (1888-1969), the role of Italian-American mobster Sam Giancana (1908-1975) and the foreign policy decisions in Cuba, the Congo and Southeast Asia.
The story of Lee Harvey Oswald is an open and shut case if you believe the government’s official story. What we do know is that he did in fact travel to the Soviet Union and attempted to renounce his U.S. Citizenship. But what is often left out of the discussion is did he actually renounce it? To some the question might seem strange but if we take a closer look along with the author, we see that many of Oswald’s actions in Russia did not make sense. In fact, things were so confusing that his mother Marguerite Oswald (1907-1981) wrote to the State Department to verify if her son had given up his U.S. Citizenship. If you eyebrows are now raised, you are on the right track and what follows in this book will change your perception of Oswald’s possible intentions in the Soviet Union. Admittedly, Oswald is still a mysterious figure. The amount of information known about him still pales slightly to the unknown information surrounding his career in the military and his actions in Dallas leading up to Kennedy’s murder. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has generally been quite vague about what it knew about Oswald’s attempted defection and his return to the United States. The opening of the infmamous 201 file on Oswald has always been a topic of discussion in assassination researcher circles and for good reason. Newman explores the issue in detail and clears up some of the mysteries that have lingered for years. But what may really rattle readers is his hypothesis as to why Oswald traveled to the Soviet Union in the first place. Newman does not declare that his belief is what happened but his suggestion has plenty of traction and if it is ever proven to be correct, it would completely change what we knew about Lee Harvey Oswald.
As John F. Kennedy settled into office in January, 1961, his administration faced its first crisis as news of the murder of Patrice Lumuba (1925-1961) spread across the globe. Kennedy publicly had believed in a free Africa policy and Lumumba’s murder dealt a heavy blow for his vision of Africa’s future. Today we have the benefit of hindsight to look back on Lumumba’s death. And what we can see is a story that is much darker than most could have ever imagined. I should point out that there is no direct relationship between Lumumba’s death and Kennedy’s murder. But what is revealed is the role of the CIA which was also discussed in Volume I. The agency as it is known informally, became a foreign policy division of its own and by the time Kennedy took office, no one in Washington dared to challenge it. In fact, the agency was so powerful, that several presidents were unaware of what the agency’s true mission actually was. Author David Talbot discusses the agency in detail in his phenomenal book “The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government”, which is a thoroughly researched account of the rise of the CIA under its controversial director Allen Dulles (1893-1969). Newman puts Dulles and the agency back in the spotlight, revealing a sinister web of deceit determined to engineer Lumumba’s downfall. The story is critical to understanding what would follow from the agency in Cuba and eventually Southeast Asia.
Cuba once again comes into focus as Fidel Castro breaks ties with Washington and officials are left seeting with disdain towards the beared revolutionary. This part of the book is perhaps the most chilling as it provides an inside look into the battle being waged behind the scenes to coach Kennedy into an all out war with Cuba. Truths, half-truths and outright lies served to cause confusion and errant decisions that resulted in the distrastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in April, 1961. The mission was a total failure and publicly, Kennedy excepted blame. But behind the scenes, a war was looming between the White House, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and America’s intelligence community. The stakes had been raised and Kennedy came to realize that the CIA was now an obstacle that had to be removed. But what he did not know at the time was that the agency plays for keeps and waits patiently for the right moment to execute.
To say that these books are mesmerizing would be an understatement. This is the history we are never taught in school. The information revealed in these books should serve as the basis for history lessons given about the events during the Cold War and the CIA’s rise to power. The author concludes the book with a snippet from the story of former CIA agent David Atlee Phillips (1922-1988), whose words are an indication of what is come in Volume III of the series titled Into the Storm: The Assassination of President Kennedy. A storm was definitely brewing and by the time it ended, America was never be the same again.
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