Category Archives: Assassinations
June 5, 1968 – Senator Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968) (D-New York) concludes his speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California after scoring a critical primary victory in his quest for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. As he walked through the pantry while exiting the hotel, he was shot and mortally wounded. Twenty-six hours later in the early morning hours of June 6, 1968, his life and the dream he inspired came to a tragic conclusion. He is survived by his widow Ethel and eleven children, the youngest of whom was born after his death. Her name is Kerry Kennedy and along with brother Robert, Jr., she keeps her father’s memory alive and well. Her book Robert F. Kennedy: Ripples of Hope: Kerry Kennedy in Conversation with Heads of State, Business Leaders, Influencers, and Activists about Her Father’s Impact on Their Live is a fitting tribute to her late father’s life and is yet another testament to the profound influence he had on those who knew him and even those who never met him. His alleged murderer Sirhan Sirhan, remains incarcerated at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County, California. The official narrative paints a picture of Sirhan being a deranged lunatic determined to murder Kennedy at all costs. He was initially sentenced to life in prison after his conviction but several years later, his sentence was commuted to life. In the eyes of many, he is the man who killed Kennedy in an open and shut case. But there have always been questions surrounding Sirhan’s actions that night that cause many to pause before proclaiming his guilt. Did Sirhan Sirhan really act alone and did he fire the shots that took Kennedy’s life?
Tim Tate and Brad Johnson have taken another look at one of America’s most tragic murders fifty years after Kennedy gave his last speech, examining the crime from start to finish. And in the process they have raised many questions which have never been answered by the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”) or the State of California. In fact, what we can see very clearly, is an investigation full of missteps, inaction and disturbingly, outright deceit by law enforcement. The investigation became a mixture of destruction of evidence, stonewalling and witness intimidation as the LAPD focused its attention on Sirhan with the intention of convicting him at all costs. But as Tate and Johnson show, there were many reason to doubt Sirhan’s guilt and proof that more than one gunman was in the pantry area that night. While they do not provide a smoking gun as to who the shooter may be, they do establish that there was more that occurred that night than police were willing to admit. And Sirhan may not have been the person he has been portrayed to be. We know that he did discharge a gun that night, but the authors have given reasons to believe here, that none of his bullets struck Kennedy.
As I read through the book, at times I could not believe my eyes. Similar to the murder of John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), Bobby’s death became shrouded in controversy as rumors swirled of a conspiracy. At the center of the many conspiracies is the infamous woman in the polka dot dress. The authors examine her role in the matter and give a strong explanation regarding her possible identity. Readers curious about the mystery woman will find Fernando Faura’s The Polka Dot File on the Robert Kennedy Killing: Paris Peace Talks Connection a good read regarding this infamous figure who official remains unidentified and ignored by supporters of Sirhan’s guilt. However, the authors have shown that not only did multiple witnesses see the woman, some had personal encounters with her, including Sandra Serrano, a worker in Kennedy’s campaign. Her experience with LAPD investigators is one of the most bizarre parts of the story but also reveals an important clue about the department’s motives in streamlining the investigation. We may never know who the woman in the polka dot dress is or was, but what is clear is that she was not a figment of anyone’s imagination.
Previously, I had read material on Kennedy’s murder but this assessment of the assassination, revealed many things which I did not have prior knowledge of. Sirhan’s trial was an easy win for prosecutors as they successful painted Sirhan with the image of a lone gunman with a deadly fixation on Kennedy. As the shadow of Dallas hung over the trial, authorities made sure Sirhan was tried and convicted as expeditiously as possible. However, there was one aspect of the trial that no one could completely put to rest which would come back to haunt the case until this very day. Sirhan’s claim of having no memory of the shooting was at first dismissed but as the authors show, there was and is strong evidence to support this theory. And at this point in the book, the story kicks into high gear as a cast of characters appear including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). And we are forced to ask, was Sirhan a “Manchurian Candidate”? To some, the idea sounds like another crack pot theory. But as Tate and Johnson show, the CIA actively engaged in mind control through several different programs it admitted to conducting, the most well-known being MK ULTRA. I would like to stress the fact that the authors never claim to have a smoking gun regarding Kennedy’s death. However, they do succeed in providing ample evidence provides a strong basis for a new investigation into the murder of Robert Francis Kennedy.
If you are curious about Kennedy’s murder or have studied it previously, then this book is a must have. To say it is mind-blowing is an understatement. The authors pull no punches, leaving the reader with chills as they show the side of the investigation police never intended for the public to see. Highly recommended.
In this third volume, we catch up with Eleanor in 1939 as German Chancellor Adolf Hitler is making his presence felt in Europe and threatening to turn the continent into a German Reich. Her husband and president, Franklin, finds himself at odds over the growing German menace. ER is right by his side serving as both a voice of reason and cabinet adviser as FDR determines the position of the United States in regards to the looming crisis across the Atlantic. In this manner the book differs from Volume I and Volume II which focus on her early, the people who formed the core of close friends and FDR’s successful campaign. The close nexus of friends return and once again we come across Hick, Esther Lape, Elizabeth Read, and Earl Miller. Like characters in a novel, they all have their roles in her life and each makes their departure from the stage as Eleanor’s life comes full circle. We also see up close the changes that occur in the relationship between husband and wife and how it shaped the policies of the government. The stage had been set in volume two and in this volume, it comes to fruition in its entirety. Some of it is good, some bad and even more unfortunate. But throughout the thick and then, they remained Franklin and Eleanor.
While readers may be tempted to think that Cook has strayed far off course in this third part, that is not the case. In fact, the volume closes ER’s story appropriately for she was no longer First Lady following FDR’s death in 1945. Cook does address her life post-Washington but it is clear that her highest moments came occurred during her tenure in the White House. Nonetheless, this look into FDR’s administration and ER’s role in it, is fascinating and reveals the long process that eventually pulled the United States into the war. Operating in a male dominated and openly discriminatory social climate, she became a beacon of hope as she wage the war for Jewish refugees, anti-discrimination legislation, ant-lynching legislation and equal rights for America’s women. Sadly, her efforts paid off many years after her death. Had she lived, I believe she would have been in awe at the election of Barack Obama in 2008. His election would have been seen by her as a testament to the cause for civil rights and the advancement of America’s African-American citizens who faced discrimination daily in their lives.
Following FDR’s death, she continued to work on behalf of all Americans and never wavered in her crusade for equality for everyone. In 1962, she was appointed by President Kennedy to be the head of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. The appointment spoke volumes about her accomplishments and vision. She remained the chairwoman until the time of her death. When she died on November 7, 1962, a shining light was extinguished that was one of America’s brightest. She is no longer with us but her story is through the efforts of Blanche Wiesen Cook. And through her words, we can relive the life of the pioneering former First Lady.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
The murder of John F. Kennedy remains one of America’s darkest moments. His assassination in Dealey Plaza and the murder of his alleged assassin two days later shocked the world and marked a turning point in American history. The Warren Commission’s report is still the government’s official position on the murder. It concluded that there was no conspiracy to murder John F. Kennedy and that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. In 1966, Mark Lane’s Rush to Judgment was released and became the first major book to challenge the Commission’s conclusions. Lane became a pioneer in the process with his book being followed by more than 200 hundred others regarding the events of that day. Each has its strengths and weaknesses but all provide a window into what some have called the crime of the century. There are literally dozens of theories as to how and why Kennedy was killed. It is up to the reader to cross-reference the facts and reach a conclusion. However, in the majority of the books regarding the murder, all tend to focus on the complicity of the U.S. Government and organized crime. The Italian-American mafia has long been suspected in the assassination. But like everything else regarding the murder, things are not always as they may seem.
Michael Collins Piper has composed this incredibly well researched account of what he calls the missing link in the JFK assassination. As can been seen on the cover, the book has faced strong opposition resulting in enormous challenges faced by the author to have it published. To some it may seem strange that a book on a crime that has been written about hundreds of time should face such stonewalling. But as the reader descends into the deep subject at hand, it becomes evidently clear why the book has had so much trouble going to press. Piper’s missing link is the role of Israel and the Mossad in the murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
Because Israel is a close ally of the United States and has a strong lobby with American borders, any discussion regarding a possible Israeli link to the murder of a U.S. President is bound to raise suspicion and cause adverse reactions. Piper has been called a traitor and anti-Semite. But if the reader has an open mind and considers the many angles to the crime, the book is an invaluable asset for anyone seeking to learn the truth about the forces behind Kennedy’s assassination.
What makes the book stand out is the revelation that takes place early in the book. Piper is not the first to cover the material as he freely admits. But he is the first to connect many of the dots that have gone unnoticed by other researchers. What we learn early in the book is a once hidden fact that President Kennedy had been involved in a behind-the-scenes war with Israel over its ability to develop nuclear weapons. Kennedy had been pressuring Israel to dismantle its nuclear stockpile and made no attempt to hide his disdain. This serves as the crux of the book and Piper does an incredible job of putting all of the pieces together to give the reader a picture of who benefited from Kennedy’s removal.
For some readers it will be hard to accept that Israel could have played a role in the crime or even that the Mossad is as dangerous as alleged. But the key to understanding the authors contention is to read while having an open and highly attentive mind. It should be pointed out that the author is by no means anti-Semitic. He has simply researched a critical angle of a horrible crime that changed world history. Through Piper’s work, we can see the spider-web of connections from some of the darkest figures in history. He takes a closer look at the lives and actions of several well-known figures such as Jack Ruby, David Ben-Gurion, Mickey Cohen and Meyer Lansky, the legendary crime figure. But he also reveals critical information about lesser-known figures that held parts of the world in an iron-grip which in turns exposes the underlying connections between the CIA, Mossad and even the SAVAK, the Iranian intelligence faction. We are introduced to Tibor Rosenbaum, Max Fisher, Shaul Eisenberg and Louis Bloomfield. All of these men are critical to the author’s story and the facts surrounding their actions will prove to be hard to refute. But Piper does not stop there. In fact, the amount of notorious figures and interconnections between them is nothing short of staggering. And forces us to reexamine everything we thought we knew about Kennedy’s death. The book is not for the faint at heart but if the reader thinks clearly and rationally while reading this incredible book, it will become clear why this is indeed the final judgment.
Each time I drive across the Robert F. Kennedy memorial bridge as I pass from Queens to the Bronx and sometimes Manhattan, I think about his importance to the State of New York and the United States. The former attorney general, senator and presidential candidate was one of the most polarizing figures of his time. His murder on June 5, 1968, shocked the world leaving millions of people speechless about what they had just learned. A young Jordanian immigrant named Sirhan Sirhan was later tried and convicted for the murder and the case is considered solved in Los Angeles County. Similar to the murder of John F. Kennedy 5 years earlier in Dallas, Texas, upon closer examination, many disturbing facts emerge that cast a chilling doubt over the official story.
Fernando Faura worked for the Hollywood Citizens News at the time of the murder, and subsequently began his own investigation into one aspect of the crime that has never been solved; the identity and role of the woman in the polka dot dress seen exiting the Ambassador Hotel while declaring “we shot him”. To this day she remains a mystery. What we do know is that several witnesses all confirmed that not only was she there but that she did in fact make the declaration of Kennedy having been shot. Unsatisfied with the LAPD’s official story, Faura began his own research into the crime and his incredible journey to find the truth is documented in this excellent account that he calls the polka dot file.
Some researchers into the murder of John F. Kennedy have said that the murder of Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippitt is the Rosetta Stone of the crime. Like Dallas, the woman in the polka-dot dress is the Rosetta Stone of this crime and as we see through Faura’s notes, finding her was similar to looking for a needle in a haystack. The crime occurred in the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Police Department, but as Faura points out, more than 400 FBI agents worked the case. The FBI’s investigation contradicted some of the LAPD’s findings and remain disputed. Witnesses to the crime were badgered and coerced into changing their stories by the LAPD and photographs of the crime taken as it happened by a 15-year-old fan of Kennedy, disappeared while in police custody. The originals have never been found. The LAPD made a mockery of the investigation, ignoring many clues and witnesses and in the process, allowed Sirhan to be convicted while the other conspirators escaped.
But just why is the woman in the polka dot dress so important? It is alleged that three prior to the murder, she was seen in Sirhan’s company and even on the night of the murder. Further, it is also alleged that she was seen in the company of Anne Chennault, the wife of the late Claire Chennault, founder of the Flying Tigers. Chennault has long been suspected of helping Richard Nixon with getting the South Vietnamese government to refuse to attend the Paris Peace Talks to the chagrin of President Johnson. At this point in his life, Kennedy was fiercely against the war and the possibility that his assassin was in the company of a woman linked to Chennault, friend of Nixon and acquaintance of many in the South Vietnamese government, would have added a mind-blowing and treasonous element to the investigation. The results would have been far-reaching, possibly all the way to the White House.
Faura’s pursuit of the woman resulted in several important interviews that shed light on the events of that night. It should be noted that the witnesses stuck to their stories and one of them, John Fahey, even took a polygraph examination, passing on all but two questions asked of him. Sandra Serrano, castigated by the LAPD, is vindicated here and her testimony is corroborated by others. Sadly, Serrano and many other witnesses were either discounted or ignored by investigators. The chance to learn exactly who the woman in the polka dot dress was, had been lost to history. We can only speculate as to who she might have been or what her motives were or if she’s still alive. She was seen in the company of at least one male companion. His identity is also unknown. Faura was on the right path in his investigation. The refusal of the LAPD to be more cooperative and their efforts to sabotage his investigation are regrettable and disheartening for the truth about Kennedy’s murder might never be known in full. If things had gone different, perhaps history would be telling a different story surrounding the murder of Robert Francis Kennedy.
Prior to his death from cancer, Jack Ruby, the convicted murdered of Lee Harvey Oswald who executed his prey live on national television, once remarked that to get answers in the murder of John F. Kennedy, it would wise to ask the man currently in office. That man as we all know was Lyndon B. Johnson. In most history classes, Lyndon Johnson or LBJ for short, is seen as a pioneering president, responsible for the passage of the monumental Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, what is often looked over is his role in the escalation of the U.S. military in southeast Asia resulting in the Vietnam War. As the body count of American soldiers climbed, his approval rate dropped to absurdly low levels, possibly the worst in recent history. And the announcement of Robert Kennedy for candidacy for president served as a final nail in the coffin forcing Johnson to withdraw his name in the 1968 presidential race. Many years after his death, the true story of the life of Lyndon Johnson has come to light in dozens of books. And what we learn through each of these books is that there was a very dark side to the 36th President of the United States.
Barr McClellan worked as an attorney at the firm of Clark, Thomas and Winters, the firm that worked intimately with Johnson, handling many of his private affairs. This book is McClellan’s recollections of the things he saw, heard and took part in over a multi-decade service to the firm under Johnson’s primary attorney and close friend, Edward A. Clark. The cover of the book alludes to a smoking gun in the book. Having read dozens of books on the Kennedy murder, I wouldn’t quite go that far. And as McClellan points out, many of the discussions that took place among some of the partners and various nefarious figures associated with Clark were never put on record as an official transcript. While he presents to us a picture of what might have been said, the participants are lone gone and can neither confirm of deny the statements in the book. Also, the allegations regarding Lee Harvey Oswald are direct but gloss over many important details that not only cast doubt on him being Kennedy’s assassin, but also being the murderer of Officer J.D. Tippit and the attempted assassin of Gen. Edwin Walker.
The beauty in the book are the revelations about the relationships between Johnson, Clark, Thomas, Mac Wallace, Bobby Baker, Clifton Carter and Billie Sol Estes. This close group of conspirators, pulled off some of the biggest scams in Texas history and are complicit in the murders of several individuals, possibly including John F. Kennedy. Of all of the players, Baker is the only one still alive and has disclosed a lot of what he did for Johnson and other politicians in Washington during his career. However, out of all of these mysterious and fascinating figures, the two that stand out in the book as the most interesting are Edward Clark and Mac Wallace. Johnson, while complicit in many illegal activities, always maintained a safe distance in the event that a scandal arose. However, when problems did come up and people need to be taken care of, Clark and Wallace would prove to be the most loyal and deadly associates of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Wallace has been long known to assassination researchers and people familiar with Johnson’s activities in Texas. And if McClellan’s account is correct, then it shows the assassination into an entire different perspective. Clark is lesser known to those outside of the State of Texas but McClellan clues us in to another major participant of the crime of the century in the United States of America.
While I do believe that LBJ did have foreknowledge of the crime, I do not think that the law firm of Clark, Thomas and Winters had the sole role they did as described by McClellan. Did they play a part? Absolutely. But I also believe that there were many things transpiring in Dallas that day that went far beyond the control of both Edward Clark and Lee Harvey Oswald. A conspiracy of that magnitude needs many participants with plans made far in advance in many different sectors of government. Of interesting note, McClellan does shows that the plan to remove Kennedy began as early as 1961 which coincidentally is when multiple Oswald sightings first began. Was there a plan to remove JFK from office? Undoubtedly. Was a sole lawyer the mastermind behind the entire plot? You be the judge.
The Innocence of Oswald: 50+ Years of Lies, Deception & Deceit in the Murders of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J.D. Tippit-Gary Fannin
As November slowly approaches this year, the anniversary of one of America’s darkest moments will be upon us once again as we remember the tragic death of the late John F. Kennedy. His murder continues to stay with us and to this day it is technically an unsolved murder in that his alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was never convicted in a court of law. He had been accused of murdering both President Kennedy and Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit, and convicted in the court of public opinion through misstatements and so-called evidence that wouldn’t hold up in a court of law. And as author Gary Fannin points out, for over 50 years, lies, deception and deceit continue to be propagated making the truth of the matter seemingly harder and harder to unravel.
This book is not a smoking gun about the assassination. Fannin examines the major parts of the story, holding them up to the light so to speak, to be examined thoroughly and in the process sheds light on the many contradictions and shortcomings on the official story. He does point clearly that he does not believe in any way, that Lee Harvey Oswald murdered anyone on November 22, 1963 or even fired a rifle that day. Oswald was murdered in cold blood by Jack Ruby before he had a chance to tell his side of the story taking any information he could have offered with him to the grave. Nevertheless, the U.S. Government stands by the conclusion the Warren Report that Oswald as indeed the long gunman. But upon closer examination as Fannin shows us, the case against him has serious flaws and there were many suspicious events that took place that were beyond Oswald’s control.
Acting as sort of a public defender of Oswald, Fannin methodically tackles each piece of alleged “evidence” against Oswald and refutes each one by one. And in the process, Fannin brings to our attention, the many fingerprints on the crime of U.S. Intelligence agencies and he even gives a highly plausible scenario of how the shooting might have been carried out. Fannin points out that he will probably become and an enemy of the government for the book but published it regardless as he believes the American public is owed more than what we’ve been told all of these years. The next release date for the remaining records held on the assassination are scheduled to be released in October, 2017. In those records are thousands of pages of documents on many individuals long suspected by researchers as being complicit in Kennedy’s death.
Anyone who’s read books on this subject will know that they tend to be quite large and the information contained in them can be staggering. The crime itself is so complex that just one part of it is enough to fill up a shelf on a bookcase. Fannin did an excellent job of keeping the book straight to the point and it never loses pace. The information is exactly the right amount to get the reader to ask questions and do their own research. But at no point, does the book feel as if it’s information overload. For those just starting to dive into the Kennedy assassination, this is a good place to start. And even for those, who are advanced researchers have read dozens of books on the crime, it’s a welcome addition the ever-growing collection of incredible books on this heinous crime.
Recently, I re-watched President Kennedy’s peace speech at American University on June 10, 1963. The speech is considered to be one of Kennedy’s shining moments. In the speech, he called for a new vision of peace in the face of the escalating conflict in Vietnam and continuing aggression with the Soviet Union and its Cuban ally, Fidel Castro. Researchers into Kennedy’s administration and his murder have often said that this is the speech that served as the final straw for those surrounding him wishing to have him removed from office. Tragically, several months later, after this speech, that’s exactly what happened as he was murdered in broad daylight on the streets of Dallas, Texas. Two days later, his alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald was also murdered raising more questions that have yet to be answered to this very day.
Today, the murder of a sitting U.S. President seems inconceivable. The Secret Service, FBI and local law enforcement agencies are expected to do their part to ensure the President has a safe visit to every destination domestic and abroad. But what happens when the President goes from being seen as the commander-in-chief to an enemy of the state? When John F. Kennedy assumed the oval office, he inherited several simmering crisis ready to explode a moment’s notice. Warned by his predecessor about the military industrial complex, Kennedy found himself in the middle of a circle of fanatical cold war veterans hell-bent on the defeat of the Soviet Union and communism at any cost. Many years after his death we are now able to look back with this incredible book by James W. Douglass, and reexamine the uphill struggle Kennedy faced as he struggled to contain the push of his own generals for military involvement in Cuba, a preemptive strike against the Soviet Union using nuclear weapons and a full-out ground war in Laos and Vietnam. And what we see is treason of the highest order and a crime that truly is unspeakable.
The official story of the U.S. government is that Lee Harvey Oswald, a disgruntled former Marine decided to squeeze off three shots in six seconds as the motorcade made its way through Dealey Plaza with speeds as low as 10 m.p.h. But to this day, no investigator or investigative committee has been able to figure out one highly important part of the crime-motive. No motive has ever been disclosed for Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shooting John F. Kennedy. But if we do look at motive, there were plenty of others who did have motive and as we make our way through Douglass’ masterpiece, we see that the number of those who bore a grudge against Kennedy was nothing short of staggering. From the start of his presidency until his final day in Dallas, the resistance and deceptive behavior of subordinates in his cabinet, the military and intelligence communities was beyond belief. But just who were these people and what exactly was occurring?
Douglass’s exhaustive research efforts shed light on why was opposed to the young leader and why. Kennedy had averted a nuclear war, begun to seek peace with Cuba, taken on the steel industry, placed constraints on the CIA and was wholeheartedly attempting to make a complete withdrawal from Vietnam. Further, he was pushing forward a platform on civil rights and economic reform and in the process bucking the system in place for decades. And the result was a hornet’s nest destined to strike.
Following Kennedy’s murder, the investigation into his murder took on a life of its own. The warning signs had been there in advance, most famously in the story of Rose Cheramie who attempted to warn authorities of the upcoming assassination. And there’s strong evidence that a man named “Lee” had warned the authorities as well of the events in Dallas but the failed attempt in Chicago several week earlier. Fake Secret Service agents, two different arrest at the Texas Theater and a night club owner with mafia and CIA ties provides us with a cast of characters complicit in the death of a president. The murder is a web of deceit that becomes more complex as we dive further into the events of that day. But authors such as James Douglass have done a service and made the murder and investigation easier to understand by revealing the cloak of mystery that has shielded Kennedy’s murder for over 50 years.
On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth changed the course of United History. The murder of Abraham Lincoln marked the first time a sitting U.S. President had been slain by an assassin. Tragically, Lincoln would not be the last to be assassinated. John F. Kennedy would meet his tragic fate on the streets of Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Lincoln’s murder has become fodder for conspiracy theorist intent on proving that a web of deceit surrounded Lincoln paving the way for the tyrannical Booth to execute his plan. But just how much of a conspiracy was there? And did it involve members of the Confederacy? Was Edward Stanton complicit in pulling back Lincoln’s security detail? And was Mary Surratt rightfully convicted? Edward Steers, through painstaking research answers those questions and more in what is the definitive examination of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
By all accounts, the general consensus is that John Wilkes Booth committed the murder and then jumped to the stage breaking a bone in his left leg in the process. His declaration of “Sic semper tyrannis” remains some of the most remembered and chilling words ever recorded in American history. Nearly two weeks later he was shot and killed by Sgt. Boston Corbett in a barn at the Garrett farmhouse. Nearly four years would pass before Booth’s body was returned to his family for internment at Green Mount Cemetery Baltimore, MD, where it continues to rest today. But with any famous murder, rumors, suspicion and misinformation arise leading to false conclusions and even more unanswered questions. Drawing on statements by those with first hand knowledge of the crime as a witness or subsequent participant and government documents, Steers has masterfully reconstructed the events leading up to the murder, the night itself and the aftermath that followed. And what is revealed, may change the way you look at an event that had a profound impact on a nation and helped shape the modern-day United States.
The facts of the murder and grisly details are scenery for those seeking gory bits of information. But the key to viewing Lincoln’s murder lies in the reasons behind the venom that consumed Booth and his conspirators. The Civil War in all of its ugliness, serves a predicate for the murder and in this book we are shown the treasonous acts carried out by members of the Confederacy as the Union neared closer to forcing it into submission. Lincoln, the Republican star,is seen by many in the south as a deadly threat to the system of slave labor. He forever changed the course of America with the emancipation of slaves, striking a severe blow to the southern way of life. However, sympathetic supporters could be found throughout the country even in the north and it is among these groups of individuals that Booth is able to form his nexus of assassins. And had the full plan been carried out, perhaps Steers would have been forced to write even more about the events of that night.
Many years have passed since Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth took their last breaths. Their secrets went with them to the grave with each having never written a full autobiography. The two had never met before that night yet they are joined in death from a critical moment in time which remains with us today. While the possibility of more unknown accomplices does exist, Steers has put to rest many unfounded rumors that serve to detract from the true story. And doing so, he has given us a gift in the form of a book that does the most efficient job of telling us what happened on that tragic night. It is often said that hindsight is always 20/20. In this case, it’s not only 20/20 but beyond crystal clear.
Abraham Zapruder captured a defining and tragic moment in history when his camera recorded the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The film was originally locked away by Time Life but was finally released to the public years later as a result of the investigation of Jim Garrison into Kennedy’s murder. The film leaves the view speechless and speaks more than a thousand words. Next to the gruesome murder of the President, there’s an iconic sequence that occurs that also remains cemented in the memory of the witnesses in Dealey Plaza that day and the millions others who have repeated watched the film. As the motorcade speeds toward the triple underpass, a Secret Service agent is seen jumping on to the back of the car as it speeds up to transport the mortally wounded Kennedy to Parkland Hospital. The agent is Clint Hill, a veteran of the Secret Service who served several presidents during his multi-decade career. Now 84, he’s become an author over the years, having written a few books, one of which is this account of the fateful trip to Dallas, Texas and the tragedy that ensued.
The book begins on November 21 as the party prepares for the departure to Texas. Hill shines light on the commotion and last-minute maneuvers that are required to make the trip go as smoothly as possible. We also see the softer side of the President as he embraces his children for the very last time. And as Air Force One departs for San Antonio, the first stop, no one aboard knows that this is the last trip that they will make with Kennedy. After receiving a warming welcome at San Antonio, the party is jubilant about the potential to mend political fences in Texas to bolster Kennedy’s chances for reelection in 1964. The morning of the 22nd starts out on a positive note as the President makes his last speech at the Ft. Worth Chamber of Commerce. The flight to Dallas is only fifteen minutes and the first couple emerges after landing to a crowd of eager supporters. The motorcade makes its way through the streets of Dallas and at 12:29 p.m. everything goes dark as the nightmare begins changing history and Hill’s life forever.
As the tragedy unfolds in Dallas, Hill serves as our point man takings us through each development as it happened. We also get a feel for the emotions and thoughts going through the minds of everyone as they struggle to remained composed in the face of an unspeakable tragedy. The vivid reality of the chaos in Parkland and later on Air Force One becomes even clearer as Hill takes us through the day and all the way until Kennedy’s body returns to the east coast for the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital and his final placement in the coffin in which he was buried. Funeral arrangements, the arrival of family and guests combined with the changing of the guard in Washington prove to be heavy tasks on all present and each does their best under the strain. Up until Kennedy’s final moment before he lowered into the ground, Hill remains a loyal agent and intimate family friend.
Because this book is written by a former agent on Kennedy’s detail, some would expect it to have possible clues as to who might have killed the President. This is not the case and Hill sticks to the government’s story of Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone gunman. Whether Hill continues to believe that is beyond the scope of the book and a completely different discussion. What this book is, is a poignant memoir by a man who remains haunted by those five days in November, 1963.
October, 2017, will mark a turning point in American history. Pursuant to the JFK Records Act of 1992, all remaining classified files relating to the assassination of President John Kennedy are slated to be released to the American public. If no opposition is received from the FBI, CIA or any government agency with a vested interest in the files, more than 3,000 pages of once classified documents will be disclosed more than 50 years after Kennedy’s tragic death on the streets of Dallas, Texas.
While the news of this possible release of thousands of documents is uplifting, it also raises concerns about the U.S. intelligence community and its prior actions under Kennedy’s administration. Researchers of JFK’s murder have long suspected the involvement of the CIA of having a role in the murder. And although no one at the CIA was ever officially charged or prosecuted for Kennedy’s death, there were many actions of the agency that were not only strange but deeply disturbing. The House Select Committee on Assassinations served to shed light on the mysterious agency whose cover had been slowly lifted as a result of the Watergate investigation and the failed counterintelligence activities James J. Angleton, arguably the most mysterious figure in CIA history. The American public learned of the infamous actions of the agency in places such as Nazi Germany, Iraq, Guatemala and Cuba. The alliance with Italian-American gangsters and the smuggling of arms and ammunition to Cuban rebels opened the eyes of many Americans unaware of the true activities of the secretive agency. If the documents are released next October, just what exactly could that mean for the CIA and the American public? Jefferson Morley seeks to answer those questions in this short analysis of the many unanswered questions regarding the CIA and the death of John F. Kennedy.
A study of the assassination produces an endless amount of names, places, times and locations. Like a never-ending puzzle, it’s a mystery that has grown deeper over time. But as the layers of complexity have been peeled off, names and faces have been matched putting together crucial pieces of the crime. Among those faces which are known to long-term investigators, assassination researchers and mentioned in this book are David Morales, David Atlee Phillips, Richard Helms, and the legendary and infamous William Harvey. While none of the aforementioned were ever charged with any crime relating to Kennedy’s death, their names have come up more than once over the years as suspects who may have taken part in the plan to murder Kennedy or in the actions to cover up the crime. The documents slated for release contain pages of information relating to most of these complex figures. Morley touches briefly on the lives of these former intelligence legends giving a primer of what could possibly come forth with the release of the once classified records.
The murder of John F. Kennedy continues to haunt the United States and is by far the most infamous murder of a government official in United States history. To the young generation of America, Kennedy is a remnant of a very distant past, but for older Americans, his death was a turning point in the direction and history of the United States. Some have speculated that the truth about JFK’s murder would never been known, at least not in this lifetime. The release of the records in October, 2017 gives hope that the truth may eventually come out and possibly in this lifetime. And as Morley has pointed out, the CIA may have serious cause for concern.