On August 5, 1962, newspapers around the world relayed the news of the death of Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) the night before at her home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, California at the age of thirty-six. The cause of death was listed as suicide from an overdose of the drugs Pentobarbital and chloral hydrate. However, decades after her death, several question still remain regarding that tragic night of August 4, 1962. What really happened that night and why was she paid a visit by then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968) and his brother-in-law Peter Lawford (1923-1984)?
The image we have been given of Monroe is a drug-addicted sex symbol, starved for validation from the opposite sex and unable to cope with the rigors of Hollywood. Her previous suicide attempts gave credence to this perpetuated image and for many, it was the ending that they expected for quite some time. Her life reads like a tragic novel of a heroine unable to fully come to terms with herself and seeking love and affection in all of the wrong places. However in just thirty-six years, she lived a live that some can only dream of. At at one point in her life, she was the most desired woman in the world. Donald H. Wolfe takes us back in time to the those final days in August, 1962 to piece together what really did happen and why.
The book opens by revisiting the night of August 4 and the pandemonium that ensued following Monroe’s death. Immediately we learn of several disturbing facts that set the tone of the book. Wolfe does an incredible job of keeping the suspense going and the reader engaged. And rightfully so, he not only explores her death but also provides a concise biography that sets the stage for events that took place later in her life. Behind the facade of a starlet singing happy birthday to the President, lay a woman raised in a childhood which could best be described as tragic. However, in order to understand Monroe’s life and her death, it is necessary to explore her beginnings which Wolfe presents to us without breaking the momentum of the book. And I can assure you that once you start you will be hard pressed to put it down.
Although the book is about Monroe’s final days, there are many sub-stories that are told which gives us an inside view of the inner-workings of Hollywood and politics in the middle of the twentieth century. As she moves through one circle to the next, some of the biggest names in show business, sports and politics make an appearance in her life such as John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), Frank Sinatra (1915-1998), Clark Gable (1901-1960), J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972) and Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999). However, among all of the people who cross paths with her, her life takes a much darker and tragic turn through her association with the Kennedys and their associates and it is this relationship that forms the crux the remaining third of the book. After you have finished the book, you may come to see the administration in a different light. Today it is public knowledge that an affair did take place between Jack Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. And if all accounts are correct, Monroe and Robert Kennedy also had their intimate moments. The sexual content is fodder for gossips and tabloid magazines. But what was critical was the true nature of their relationship and the many secrets Monroe possessed about the most powerful man in the country. In fact, it is quite possible that she did have the power to bring down a presidency. Was this the reason for the urgent visits by J. Edgar Hoover to the White House in May, 1962 and that last visit by Robert Kennedy on the day she died? Or was this the reason for the heated arguments that took place between Monroe and Robert Kennedy in the weeks leading up to her death? And how much did she know about their association with Frank Sinatra and mobster Sam Giancana? Certainly, many of their discussions which were likely picked up by the FBI may never be known. Other recordings by the President are locked away in the Kennedy library. A little over one year after Monroe’s death, John Kennedy himself was cut down in a hail of bullets in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Several years later, Bobby would be gone as well, also the victim of an assassination at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California on June 5, 1968. In death they joined a long list of political figures and stars that died during the turbulent decade of the 1960s.
Marilyn Monroe remains a sex icon decades after her death. Young women still hang posters of her on their walls and purchase t-shirts with her image. In death, she became a legend whose left this world far too soon. Her life was in some ways a soap opera with affairs, fairy tale romances, political scandals, drugs, mental health issues and tragically, broken homes. Sadly, many people in her life failed her not just on one but on several occasions. But if there is one inspiring aspect of the story, it is her resiliency to move forward in life and command respect even in the most difficult of times. And had her life taken a slightly different course, then perhaps she might still be alive today well into her senior years and full of knowledge about Hollywood’s golden era. This is the story of the life and final days of Marilyn Monroe, a true Hollywood icon.
Dorothy, “An Amoral and Dangerous Woman”: The Murder of E. Howard Hunt’s Wife – Watergate’s Darkest Secret
On January 23, 2007, E. Howard Hunt died in Miami, Florida at the age of 88. Hunt is best remembered for his conviction as a result of his role in the Watergate scandal that helped end the presidency of Richard M. Nixon. Hunt was also a prime suspect in the murder of John F. Kennedy. His son St. John, spoke with his father prior to his death and their discussion is referred to as his deathbed confession about what he knew about the events in Dallas, Texas. In the years following his death, truths about his role in the Central Intelligence Agency and the events in Dallas disproving his claim to be just a ‘bench warmer” in the crime. Next to Hunt throughout the Watergate crisis was his first wife Dorothy who perished when United Flight 553 crashed on December 8, 1972 as it approached Chicago Midway Airport to make its landing. The NTSB attributed the crash to pilot error but researchers have long suspected sabotage in the crash and have alluded to a long number of disturbing facts surrounding the crash. On the surface, it seems to be just a tragic accident that killed a housewife en route to visit acquaintances. But upon deeper examination of the crash and her life as revealed by her son in this book, the real story of the life of Dorothy Hunt is nearly as intriguing as that of her husband.
St. John Hunt has made himself known in JFK assassination circles. His prior book. Bond of Secrecy: My Life with CIA Spy and Watergate Conspirator E. Howard Hunt, looks into the life of his father and the effects of his profession on their family. Here, the focus is on his mother and her untimely demise. No stranger to the world of covert operations, Dorothy also has a past with intelligence work, having been station in Europe on more than one occasion. Her marriage to the blossoming operative Hunt, was a bond between two intelligence assets deeply involved the back channels of Washington and tied to a president facing a dark fate.
The early parts of their lives reads like a great novel; two young adults, meet, fall in love, start a family and move from one country to the next as their father is reassigned from one post to another. Enter Watergate and the scandal that turned their lives upside down. It is at this point in the book that the rug is pulled right out from under our feet and the dark side of Richard Nixon and Washington politics is revealed. Those old enough to remember Watergate will not be surprised in what is contained in this book. In fact, the book is not a complete source on the investigation as St. John himself points out. This is purely what he saw his parents go through as his father faced criminal prosecution and the impact his mother’s dad had on his life and those of his siblings. What is evidently clear from taped conversations at the Nixon White House and St. John’s account, is that his father’s legal defense was being paid for by Nixon and the money was also intended to keep Hunt quiet. Following her death, Hunt ended up being convicted and served thirty-three months in prison for his role in the Watergate scandal.
The lives of St. John and his siblings would never be the same again. Fallout from Watergate and the loss of their mother caused splits between siblings as each struggled to put their lives back together and come to terms with what they had been through. I do not believe they will ever get over what happened but have learned to cope with it on a daily basis. It is clear that St. John, the first son of the family had a special bond with his mother. The heartache and grief he experienced is evident in the pages of this book. And through his words, her memory continues to live on.
At the conclusion of the book, there is a section on the crash itself and the investigation by Sherman Skolnick (1930-2006), a noted conspiracy theorist and activist who challenged the NTSB’s position of pilot error. This part of the book is an added bonus and reveals a ton of incredible and troubling information about the crash. And what was once believed to be an open and shut case is revealed to be far more complicated and sinister. While it is not inconclusively proven that Dorothy Hunt died as a result of homicide, there are dozens of deeply disturbing facts about the incident that should have raised the eyebrows of anyone investigating the crime. And next to 9/11, it is the only case I can think of where the FBI preempted an investigation by the NTSB, removing key evidence from the scene while preventing emergency personnel from completing their assigned tasks. The complete story of what really happened that day may never be known but what we do know is that many strange things were occurring that had nothing to do with pilot error.
JFK Assassination researchers may be looking for a smoking gun but it will not be found here. In fact, not much about Dallas is discussed. In St. John’s defense, that was not the purpose of the book. His intention was to bring his mother’s story to light which he succeeds in doing. And although he did get some factual information wrong, the story is still a good read about a family caught up in one of the greatest crimes in American political history.
America is often referred to as the land of opportunity for anyone wishing to start a new life far away from home. Since the days of Amerigo Vespucci, the territory we now call the United States has been a primary destination for world travelers. In recent years, legislation regarding immigration has been an important topic which provokes fierce debate. Every country has its issues with immigration and none has a perfect regarding the same. However America has been the place where millions of immigrants have made a new home. The late John F. Kennedy, formerly the Thirty-Fifth President of the United States, left us with many writings, interviews and speeches before his untimely death in Dallas, Texas. His sharp wit, uncanny foresight and fierce independence catapulted him to the top of the list of Americans whose names live on forever. As the descendants of Irish settlers from Ireland escaping the potato famine, his family came to America in search of a new life. Their journey was long and their assimilation into a new society rough, with prejudice and xenophobia forming substantial obstacles to peace and happiness. Their plight was never forgotten and is told again in this short but engaging book that clarifies his position that America truly is a nation of immigrants.
Today it is hard for many of us to comprehend that the America as we know it is less than three hundred years old. In fact, my hometown of New York City did not come into existence until 1898. The stories of Ellis Island are legend in American history with tales of immigrants from places such as Ireland, Italy, Germany at The Netherlands. But as Kennedy beautifully explains, America owes its diversity to immigrants from all over. He starts off by giving a brief history of the creation of America before going into the influx of newcomers and their cultures and traditions that they introduced to the American experience. As I read the book, I thought to myself that although it was written in 1958 and published posthumously in 1964 after his death, his words are still relevant today. Currently, America finds itself in the midst of a bitter political climate. Immigration remains a hotly contested topic with the lives of millions of people living in the United States at stake. But as we move forward and consider how to approach immigration, it is wise for us to reminder JFK’s words that immigrants are responsible for the building of our country.
One of the tragedies of America’s development, pointed out by Kennedy in the book, is the backlash and discrimination faced by newly arrived immigrants. Every group of people has had to face discrimination fueled by bigotry and xenophobia. Regrettably, those who engage in such acts easily forget that all of our ancestors come from foreign land. Furthermore, the disenfranchisement of the Native Americans, Aborigines and struggle of the African and Hispanic-American and dark periods and a stain on the American conscience. The more I read his words and listen to his speeches, the more I am concerned that they are more important today. And his death on November 22, 1963, is still one of America’s darkest moments. My father who will turn sixty-five this year, still recalls with vivid detail, the day that Kennedy died. And as I listen to him talk, I can feel and see the sense of loss that engulfs him.
St. Augustine remarked that “the world is a book, those who do not travel read only a page”. Truer words have rarely been spoken. For some of us, it is not merely travel, but a completely new change in life requiring moving from the place known as home to a new land thousands of miles away. Those of us who have always lived in once place may find it difficult to appreciate the struggle many face as they try to make a new life in the United States. But as we go about our daily routines and encounter those who are different, it is imperative that we remember this deeply moving compendium and its words by the late John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
On September 1, 1939, Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich invaded Poland and started the Second World War. In violation of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany had rearmed itself and under the determination of Hitler, set its eyes upon conquering all of Europe. The looming threat of German domination had been lingering for quite some time before the outbreak of the war. But sadly, many of the nations that would later be opposed to Germany did not think that Hitler would be brazen enough or have the resources to initiate a world conflict. In hindsight, we know that way of thinking was short-sighted and later highly regrettable. The actions of the British government in response to Hitler’s annexation of Czechoslovakia, resulted in the condemnation of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and established Germany as a legitimate threat to world peace. The episode has been recalled in history books and documentaries and continues to provoke discussion about how Hitler could have been stopped before his army invaded neighboring Poland.
In 1940, a student at Harvard University presented to his professor with his senior thesis entitled Why England Slept. Twenty years later he became the Thirty-Fifth President of the United States of America, known affectionately as Jack. To the world, he remains John F. Kennedy (1917-1963). The thesis was eventually published into this short but well-researched and well-written book that probes the question of why England failed to respond to the growing Germany menace. Henry R. Luce (1898-1967), the creator of Time-Life magazine provides a foreword to this edition, published in 1962. Incredibly, the book sold for $.95 as printed on the cover. I believe it was severely undersold. The beauty in the book is that Kennedy does not simply lay blame for Hitler at England’s feet. Instead he examines the conditions and beliefs that lead to the slow realization that armament was necessary and that Hitler was a very real threat. It should be remembered that Kennedy spent a great deal of time in London as the son of then Ambassador to Great Britain and his father, Joseph P. Kennedy. Fully aware of the nature of British culture and politics, Kennedy wisely incorporates this into the text which helps to explain many of the actions and inactions taken.
In fairness to Britain, it was not easy to foresee the coming of the German nightmare. Hitler invoked secretive maneuvers, arouse national sentiment and provided a source of hope to a nation in despair. And as Kennedy thoroughly points out, he had the advantage of running a dictatorship against a democracy, the latter of which is always slower to respond to the threats of war. Furthermore, distance and size gave Germany advantages against the prying eyes of foreign nations. Today social media has made it far more difficult to conceal the mass production of good and machinery. But in the 1930s, secrecy was easier to effect and many countries used it to their benefit. But even so, Britain did know that Hitler was up to something and was aware that Germany had slowly been rearming itself. But the slowness to act depending on several factors that Kennedy lays out for all to see and understand. Sympathy of Germany, pacifism in Britain, a restricted budget, naiveté and political ambition combined to severely delay the rearmament of Britain prior to beginning of the deadliest war in world history. And as Kennedy explores each issue, we may find ourselves filled with shock and disbelief towards England’s actions. However it is imperative to remember that we have the benefit of history our on side and look back and see the errors of their ways. England did not have this advantage and even struggled internally with how to deal with growing danger.
More than seventy years have passed since the end of World War II. Hitler was eventually defeated and Britain was spared from annexation by the Third Reich. But this account of England’s actions prior to the war will remain a guide for us to use as we face new threats to world peace. And it is hoped that world leaders will remind us of why England slept.
Robert Kennedy In His Own Words: The Unpublished Recollections of the Kennedy Years-Robert F. Kennedy, edited by Edwin O. Guthman and Jeffrey Schulman
The election of Barack Obama to the office of President of the United States marked a turning point in American history. His successful campaign and subsequent eight years in office vindicated the late Robert F. Kennedy who in 1961 said he believed that in forty years a negro could be president. At the time the thought seemed absurd as American struggle with social division fueled by ethnic discrimination. But if we look back on his words, we can see that his foresight was not only accurate but uncanny. From time to time I think back on the many quotes from him regarding his views on society. His assassination during the 1968 presidential race left a void in the United States that has never been filled. He remains one of the most popular, unpopular and tragic figures in the history of this nation.
Following the death of John F. Kennedy, life took on a different meaning for the former Attorney General. He became the patriarch of the Kennedy family and struggled with his own future and emotions resulting from the untimely death of his older brother. As a member of the president’s cabinet and younger sibling, he was present during ever major crisis faced by the new administration. The wisdom and insight that he gained from his time in service of the country makes him one of history’s wisest witnesses. The Kennedys have always been controversial. Most people either love them or hate them. No matter which side of the fence you find yourself on, one thing that is true is that the election of John F. Kennedy was one of the brightest moments in world history. From 1964-1967, Kennedy gave closed-door interviews to Anthony Lewis (1927-2013)who worked as a columnist for the New York Times, John Bartlow Martin (1915-1987) who served as an Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007) who served as JFK’s special assistant and John Francis Stewart who was chief of the Oral History Project at the John F. Kennedy Library from 1966-1969. The interviews sat dormant for over 20 years before this book was published in 1988. They were then edited and composed into this insightful account of the workings behind the scene in the Kennedy administration.
Kennedy was always very frank in his statements and never one to sugar coat anything. This book is no different. In fact, he is even more frank and I believe part of the reason is because not much time had passed between the assassination in Dallas and when he began to sit down for these interviews. The wounds were still open and many raw emotions were in play. However to his credit, he answers each question directly and quite extensive. Only on a handful of times does he express disinterest in speaking about a certain topic. Considering what had just happened to his brother, it was remarkable that he was able to sit down and open up about a lot of topics. But the one topic he does not discuss at all is the assassination itself. He does talk about a few events following the murder and in particular his encounters with the new president Lyndon Johnson. It is no secret that the two did not get along and Kennedy does not hide his contempt for Johnson. He gives clear reasons for his dislike for Johnson and leaves it up to the reader to decide whether they’re justified or not.
In addition to Johnson, Kennedy is asked his opinion about many other political figures at the time and he gives his honest opinion on all of them. What I came to find in Kennedy was a man rigidly principled in a world where things were either right or wrong but not so much in between. In his eyes either you were effective at your job or you were of no use. As cold as it sounds to the reader, for a new administration that survived one of the closest elections in history, a senate filled with rabid Democratic southerners opposed to the “Catholics”and civil rights, a tight ship was needed in order for the new president to enact domestic legislation and compose effective foreign policy. When his brother appointed him as Attorney General, even he thought it was a mistake. But as we can see in hindsight, it was one of the best decisions made by John F. Kennedy. The level of trust and dedication exemplified by Robert Kennedy to his brother, the administration and the country are inspiring. Of course, we could point out many errors made along the way. The same could be done with every administration. However, their vision to steer America on a new path was bold and unprecedented a time when America was still struggling with a dark and violent past. The challenges they faced through opposition and inefficiency are cleared explained by Kennedy giving us a sense of the staggering amount of difficulty JFK faced in dealing with the Senate and House of Representatives. Incredibly, in spite of the opposition, they succeeded on many fronts and would have continued on the same path.
President Kennedy served in office less than three years. But in those three years, he faced some of the biggest threats to the safety of the United States. Berlin, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam put the world on edge as democracy in the west came face to face with communism in the east, backed by the ideology of the Soviet Union, the nation’s fiercest opponent. As they weathered each storm, they stood side to side making critical decisions to carefully avoid the outbreak of a nuclear confrontation. And it may scare some readers to learn just how close we came to war with the Soviet Union. The place where it would have happened might surprise you as well. There are other small tidbits of information revealed by Kennedy that cast light of the severity of maintaining world peace.
The questions he was asked were strictly about the administration. There are nearly no discussions about the personal lives of anyone except for a question regarding the rumor that JFK had been married prior to meeting Jackie. The reason is that the interviews were done for the JFK Library and needed to be as exact as possible. Furthermore, there are plenty of books that tackle the personal lives of the Kennedys. The most popular being Seymour Hersh’s The Dark Side of Camelot. This book is Kennedy’s show and he shines in his assessment of what it was like helping his brother run the country and the many challenges and successes they had.
November 22, 1963 remains a day seared into the minds of millions of people around the world. Known informally in the United States as the day Kennedy died, each year it reminds of the tragic events of that day in Dallas, Texas. The spirit of John F. Kennedy has remained with America and today, decades after his death, his legacy continues to gain in strength. The debate regarding his accomplishments while in office has raged continuously. But what cannot be denied is his impact of the conscience of the United States and his status as a symbol of hope for an entire generation. When he died, he left behind not only a widow and two children, but millions of fans, friends and his personal secretary of twelve years, Evelyn Lincoln.
Kennedy’s administration, named “Camelot” by the press, has been the source of inquisitive researchers and those enamored with his charm and intellectually sharp personality. In this book, Lincoln has recorded her memories of what it was like for the mythical and tragic young president. Some readers may be familiar with her other book Kennedy and Johnson, her memoir regarding the relationship between Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson. In comparison, Johnson is not seen frequently in this book. In fact, he is hardly mentioned but only a handful of times. This book is strictly about the relationship between Kennedy and his secretary who devoted twelve long years of her life in service to him.
The book begins as she reflects on the aftermath of the trip to Dallas. But it should be noted that this book is not about his murder and there is no smoking gun in the book. Researchers and assassination buffs will not find anything of value in here. Where the book does shine however, is showing Kennedy’s personal side. In stark contrast to the clean-cut and smooth image presented in public, behind the scenes, the senator and later president is revealed to be as forgetful as the next person, unorganized as most businessmen and as kind as some of the greatest people I have ever met in life. Lincoln’s book does an excellent job of showing how and why so many people were inspired to work with and for him. Furthermore, it adds to his prestige as one of the most different individuals to ever occupy the oval office.
I am sure that some readers will find it interesting that she makes no mention of any of Kennedy’s major shortcomings, particularly his extramarital affairs. For some it will be hard to accept that his secretary who surely would have been privy to such knowledge makes no mention of it at all. I firmly believe it was not needed and was not the point of her book. Similar to Arthur Schlesinger, she makes note of her working relationship with Kennedy which was the goal of the book. And on this level, she succeeds without question. The book was published in 1965, roughly two years after his murder. I can only imagine the amount of grief she endured at the time and the challenge she faced in writing this memoir. Its publication and existence are a testament to her will and are a fitting tribute to the slain leader.
Anyone who has ever worked as a secretary will appreciate this book. I personally have worked as a secretarial assistant and found myself nodding my head at times during the book when she relates one of Kennedy’s quirks. All bosses have them and in all different forms. But their quirks are also what helps to make the unique and unforgettable. Kennedy and Lincoln are both deceased but they shared a time together that stands out in American history both for great reasons and unfortunately for tragic reasons. Her tribute to her former boss is heartfelt and will be warmly received in any library about the life and political career of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
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.
For twelve years Evelyn Lincoln served as John F. Kennedy’s devoted secretary. Following Kennedy’s murder she penned a memoir of her time as his assistant under the title “My Twelve Years with John F. Kennedy”. As his secretary she was a first hand witness to his daily routine and the decision making process behind some of the biggest moments in American history. The relationship between Kennedy and Vice-President Lyndon Johnson has been documented in scores of books. But Lincoln’s account is a welcomed look into the unusual relationship between two polar opposite individuals.
It will be expected that Lincoln speaks fondly of her boss. A good secretary becomes an extension of the person that is served listening to their gripes, anticipating their next move and putting the pieces back together again after a major fallout. Lincoln is all of these but that is not the goal of this book. This book is the record of what she saw and heard between John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson. And what we learn in the book will either confirm what many felt all along or seem like the unsubstantiated ramblings of a secretary in mourning and bitter at the new Commander-In-Chief. In her defense, never in the book does she show a personal vendetta against Johnson. She only reports what she observed during her time with both of these legendary figures.
The book begins before Kennedy is elected to the presidency. In fact, in the early part of the book, he is about to declare his candidacy and gears up for what turned out to be a bitter campaign against Johnson for the Democratic nomination. The animosity and sometimes vindictive methods employed during the primaries made it even more unusual that the two former enemies ended up working together in Washington. But what is clear is that they were never “friends” in any sense of the word. They established a cordial and professional working relationship that was sometimes fragile and tense. Tragically it culminated with the events in Dallas.
Lincoln does shed light on two moments in JFK’s campaign that have been the subject of heavy debate for many years. His decision to accept Johnson as the vice-president caused shock, suspicion and in some cases outrage for Johnson was not liked in many parts of the United States. The often purported story is that Kennedy offered Johnson the nomination believing that he could help pull the southern states which resisted civil rights legislation and were wary of a Irish-Catholic nominee. There is also the belief that Johnson blackmailed his way onto the ticket. What the real reason was for Johnson’s inclusion we will never know for Kennedy took it with him to his grave. But Lincoln does give us enough to see that Johnson’s version of the events leading up to his appointment as vice-president were way off base.
Towards the end of 1963 as Kennedy was preparing for his reelection campaign in 1964, he began to develop a series of agendas that he was determined to accomplish during a second term. The biggest question surrounding his administration was if Johnson would remain on the ticket. Scandals began to surround Johnson through affiliates with the most dangerous being the Bobby Baker debacle. It has been said that Bobby Kennedy had been monitoring the cases building against Johnson who may have possibly landed in jail. Apparently Jack had told him they would speak about it when he returned from Dallas. What would have happened if he did return we will never know. But what we do know from Lincoln’s journal is that before he left for Dallas he made it very clear exactly who would be his running mate for 1964. Her admissions which we have no reason to doubt, serve as concrete statement on what was going through Kennedy’s mind in regards to the future of his administration.
The book is only 207 pages but within these pages is a good journal kept by an interesting woman who served one of the greatest political figures this world has ever seen. And in his short time in office, he touched the lives of many including his own secretary who duly devoted twelve years of her life to him.
On January 7, 1971 law enforcement personnel responded to the scene of a single car accident on U.S. Route 271 near Pittsburg, Texas. The deceased is identified as Malcolm “Mac” Wallace. His death marks the end of a life replete murder, sex, alcohol and suspicion. Wallace was a known associate of several powerful figures in the State of Texas, most notably, Billie Sol Estes and Lyndon Baines Johnson. His association with Johnson earned him the title of a conspirator in the murder of President John F. Kennedy. An unidentified finger print at the Texas School Depository discovered in the wake of Kennedy’s murder, puzzled investigators and researchers for years. In 1998, Nathan Darby, a career fingerprint analyst, identified the print as belonging to Wallace giving rise to the belief of many conspiracy theorists that Wallace had been on the sixth floor either right before or during the assassination. Wallace’s death was cloaked in conspiracy theories about how and why he died. But just who was Mac Wallace? Was it really his print at the book depository? And was he LBJ’s hitman for hire as has been alleged? Joan Mellen, a noted scholar and author of several books related to JFK’s murder explores the relationship between Wallace and Johnson in this phenomenal account of the lives of both of these Texas natives.
Drawing upon the words of Wallace’s children, interviews with former associates, some of whom are now deceased, official documents from the LBJ Presidential Library and other public records, Mellen retraces the origins of the mysterious figure. JFK assassination researchers might be tempted to believe that the book might contain a “smoking gun”. This is not the case and the book is not another look at the assassination. It is purely about the relationship between Wallace and Johnson and the climate of corruption and murder in Texas. Because Texas is also the location of JFK’s murder, the book does contain a section about the assassination, but not what the reader may be tempted to think. While the focus of the book is not of JFK’s murder, where it truly shines is the information about Wallace and the true nature of his relationships and troubled life that included more than one marriage, several divorces, alcoholism and deadly sexual triangles.
What is abundantly clear from Mellen’s work is that a deadly climate of suspicion and fraud existed engulfed Texas, then a stronghold of right-wing extremist groups and politicians determined to operated a completely different system of government and culture. In the middle of this climate is Lyndon Johnson, the native of Stonewall, Texas and former U.S. President. His close-knit group of associates formed an impenetrable circle of deceit suspected in the deaths of a number of individuals including Henry Marshall, a former investigator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, John Douglas Kinser and even LBJ’s sister, Josefa. Billie Sol Estes, Bobby Baker, Herman Brown and George Parr all make an appearance in the book showing the reader how Texas politics were controlled during the first half of the 20th century.
Johnson has been portrayed in textbooks as the champion of civil rights, voting rights and the leading force behind the “Great Society” program. The reality as shown by Mellen is that a very dark side to LBJ was carefully hidden from public light but did show itself from time to time. Beginning with the controversial election in 1948 against Coke Stevenson, Johnson’s career would be dogged by controversial events that often had tragic and catastrophic results. JFK’s murder in Dallas and the attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 remain some of the darkest moments in U.S. history and two of the biggest crimes for which those involved have never been brought to justice. The truth about the Liberty presented here in its entirety, reveals the very grim reality of the U.S. government’s faulty foreign policy that claimed the lives of 34 sailors and injured nearly 200 more. And had it not been for JFK’s death, perhaps the story of the life of Lyndon Baines Johnson would be told far differently today.
Many years have passed since the events in this book have taken place. A majority of the figures in the book are now deceased and their secrets having been lost to history. But for students of history, the JFK assassination and those curious about the true nature of both Lyndon Johnson and Malcolm Wallace this is the book that sets the record straight and finally puts to rest rumors, misinformation and uncertainty about November 22, 1963 and the lives of many that ended tragically in South Texas.
The workplace in a sense becomes a second home to the majority of us, and for some of us, they become even closer to us than those with whom we have a biological link. But what happens when you’re an agent in the Secret Service? There is no set eight-hour workday for agents assigned to the first family. Instead, their hours are often unpredictable, long and extremely fatiguing. Nevertheless, the agents do their jobs to the best of their abilities and in the process create bonds with the members of the first family that sometimes remain in place many years after their service has ended. Clint Hill, long retired from the Secret Service, is best remembered by many people from the Zapruder film, in which he is the sole agent that attempts to come to the aid of the president as jumps on the back of the motorcade as the Secret Service transports a mortally wounded John F. Kennedy to Parkland Memorial Hospital. He has written several books on his time as a Secret Service agent with several presidents and the events that took place during that fateful trip to Dallas, Texas. This is his memoir of his time with the former first lady and the relationship that developed.
The book begins as the JFK wins the election becoming the president-elect. Hill, who previously served Dwight Eisenhower is assigned to guard Mrs. Kennedy. At first, we see that he’s not thrilled with the assignment, but as we follow Mrs. Kennedy and Hill on their journey, we come to see that it was nothing short of incredible. And even years later, the news of her death proves to be as much of a devastating blow as JFK’s death decades earlier. As Hill admits himself, he never fully recovered from Dallas and other agents handed in their resignations, unable to cope with what now be classified as post-traumatic stress disorder. Cigarettes and alcohol become his sedatives of choice but remarkably, he was able to transform those dreadful memories into several well-written books about the personal lives of the first couple.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, later Onassis, is still recalled as one of the finest first ladies to have ever occupied the White House. Fluent in several languages, physically agile and highly intellectual, her poise has been unmatched by many with the possible exception of the current first lady who will depart the White House at the end of year. For year following JFK’s death, the press continued to follow her and her every move garnered attention from all over. In some places, it could be argued that she might have been even more popular than JFK himself. Through Hill’s memories, we are able to see her private side; fun-loving, cigarette smoking, thrill taking and highly personal, genuinely concerned about the privacy of her children. Attempting to live as close to a “normal” life as possible, she takes great strains and places upon Hill, great burdens to maintain the strictest levels of privacy throughout their tenure together. A monumental feat without question, but time and time again, Hill comes through earning the respect and permanent trust of the first lady.
True friendship is not easy to come by. But during his time as the protector of the first lady, he becomes one of her closest friends and confidants and the memories he shares are that of a man who truly enjoyed his job and lives with those moments, good and bad, every day of his life.