JFK: An American Coup D’etat: The Truth Behind the Kennedy Assassination – Colonel John Hughes-Wilson
Last week I was debating what book to read next and realized that I had not covered anything on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) in quite some time. To many Americans, his death is in America’s past, and a crime never to be solved. With that being said, his murder is a reminder of how easy it once was to remove a sitting president from the highest office in the land. Kennedy’s death endures as one of America’s darkest moments and the unanswered questions surrounding the events in Dealey Plaza still send chills down the spines of even the most seasoned researchers. Colonel John Hughes-Wilson has taken another look at the crime and lays out his case for what he believes was a coup d’état on November 22, 1963. In the fifty-years since JFK’s death, researchers have been able to compile a staggering amount of revealing evidence throughout independent research and the release of government files under the Freedom of Information Act and the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. Incredibly, Hughes-Wilson has managed to compress thousands of pages of information into a book that is less than 400 pages. But contained within the pages of this book is an excellent summary of what happened before, during and after Kennedy’s murder.
Some readers may be independent researchers in the crime or simply someone that has never believed the official story put forth by the government. I warn the reader to be prepared for many shocking revelations and the introduction of facts that are simply unbelievable. If you believe that Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963) was the lone killer, you may find this book hard to accept. But I do think that the author provides an incredibly strong position to support his believe that Kennedy’s murder was in effect a change in government by powerful sources hidden behind the scenes. One of the book’s most interest parts is how the author sets the stage for Kennedy’s murder. So much focus is often placed on November 22 but it is critical to understand the forces that raged against his administration and their culmination into a deadly web of enemies determined to have the president removed at all costs. Author James Douglass does a great job of covering topic in his book on the murder “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters“. The information provided therein if plentiful and highly enlightening. Hughes-Wilson takes a similar approach but streamlines the information to keep the pace moving at a sufficient pace.
Any book on Kennedy’s murder is sure to contain a long list of characters relevant to the story at hand. This book is no different and as one would expect, figures such as Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) and J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972) are discussed throughout the book. We also learn about the various groups that came to loathe the president such as Cuban exiles, Texas oil barons, Wall Street bankers, the government of Israel and the Italian American Mafia. The connections between the various groups will raise eyebrows and cause mouths to drop open in surprise. But what may truly shock many readers, is their connection to the White House, in particularly Kennedy himself. I warn some that what is also revealed about Kennedy’s private life may change the way they see the former president. But if you have read Seymour Hersh’s “The Dark Side of Camelot“, some of the information may be repetitive. Kennedy is long gone so we will never known what made him do some of the things that he did. The author here does provide clues to his sometimes strange behavior but to a point, even his views are somewhat speculative. Regardless, his assessment of the late president, puts the murder into clear context and also reveals that many great political figures also had a very dark side that the public was not privy to in the age before cell phones and social media.
Hughes-Wilson did an incredible job of staying focused and not straying too far from the main goal of the book. One can easily spend hours on just one part of the murder. Whether it is Oswald’s life or the murder of Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippitt (1924-1963), the amount of information to cover is exhausting. The author here never lets the reader become overwhelmed with information but wisely keeps things moving along and provides enough information for the reader to continue to piece together the entire puzzle. In short, I found the book to a collection of information covered separately in other books but told in a way that keeps the reader deeply intrigued. And even for myself, the book was thoroughly enjoyable even though I have read at least a dozen books and several articles on the crime.
Someone asked me one day if Kennedy’s murder would ever be solved. Well Jim Marrs once said that we already know who did it, but we just need to look closely at the evidence. I think that we have many of the answers that have long been sought through the hard work of researchers and the deathbed confessions of individuals long suspected of being part of the plot. The real question is whether Americans are ready to accept information that will change the way the see the United States Government and politicians many of them have long admired. It is said that no one who was alive when Kennedy’s murder took place will forget where they were that day. My father has told me the same thing many times and can easily recall that day from start to finish even at the age of 66. For my generation, none of us will forget where we were on September 11th. The future generation will have their own moment in history but what that is remains to be seen. No matter how many generations pass, the murder of John F. Kenney will remain the biggest unsolved mystery in American history. But with books such as this by Col. John Hughes-Wilson, we already have many of the answers needed to eventually find the truth.
For readers that are discovering new territory, I strongly recommend reading the late Jim Marrs’ (1943-2017) “Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy“. It remains one of the best sources for information on the assassination. Having discovered this gem, I also strongly recommend this compendium as well for those who truly want to know what really happened.
I find that as I age, I am more focused on historical events that changed the course of America, in particular from Black Americans. It has been said that in order to know where you are going, you have to know where you come from. For millions of Black Americans, the question of identity has been a difficult one to answer. Some prefer the term African-American while others prefer Black-American. And there are some who prefer Afro-American or just simply Black. Regardless of the label, there is a shared history of pain, struggle and the never ending goal for full integration American society. Over the past fifty years, tremendous progress has been made in the United States but there is still much work to be done. But one of the greatest things about America is our ability to correct and learn from mistakes that have lingered for too long. The young generation of today lives in a world far removed from only twenty years ago. Their world is one in which technology is ingrained and life moves at an even faster pace. My father often thinks back to the period of integration and the times where it seemed as if America was going to tear itself apart. Even to him, as a kid it seemed as if the accomplishments by Black Americans over the years were just a pipe dream.
The Civil Rights Movement was a platform not just for Black-Americans but for all people that had been denied basic civil rights to which everyone is entitled, whether here in the United States or around the world. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has always been seen as the “leader” of the American movement. The reality is that he was one of endless figures who displayed unparalleled bravery and dedication. But he is easily the most recognizable. But behind him, was his wife Coretta Scott King (1927-2006), who in later years became even more vocal in her commitment to Dr. King’s legacy and the movement they both believed in. This book is her autobiography so that the world can learn more not about Mrs. King but about Coretta.
Her story begins in 1927, in the small town of Heiberger, Alabama during the Jim-Crow Era. Readers sensitive to the subject matter might find this part of the book a little unnerving. Although there are some low points, there are equally many high points as well and the pride and dignity with which the Scott family carried itself offsets the darker memories that she recalls. From an early age, she is independent, tough and open to change. Those traits would prove to be invaluable later in life when a young bachelor named Martin Luther King, Jr., walked into her life. It is at this point in the book that the story picks up speed at an extraordinary pace.
Martin’s story is well-known and he remains one of the most iconic figures in world history so I do not think it is necessary to go into detail about his life in this post. Plus, Coretta does that for us but not in the position of a biographer, but simply as his wife and the mother of their four children. This is the behind the scenes look into their very private life which might surprise some. In contrast to the public version of Dr. King which was cool, controlled and always prophetic, the version shown by Coretta is humble, playful, a homemaker, a prankster and a father. The movement is never far away and Coretta explains early on that they both believed that the movement was a higher calling than anything else. And each would maintain that belief until the end of their lives.
As the story moves into the 1960s, the movement gains momentum and Coretta revisits all of the critical moments that changed America. The bus boycotts, Rosa Parks (1913-2005), Bull Connor (1897-1973) and Jim Sharp (1922-2007) are just some of the events and figures that she discusses. She also discusses the much darker moments that occurred such as a the murders of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Robert F. Kennedy and her beloved Martin, whose death rattled the globe and changed her life permanently. Following his assassination, she became the heir apparent to the King legacy and she has never wavered in that task.
The book changes gears after Martin’s death and the focus shifts primarily back on Coretta. Her children also come into sharper focus and she discusses how each responded to their father’s death and what he meant to them. Although Martin was gone, Coretta was still in high demand and the movement never stopped. Her circle of friends and acquaintances changes slightly but the core group of support remains intact. Later in her years, she finds herself in what some would call the widow’s club but to her, it was far from that. She was a survivor of the movement who understood that death was a constant threat to anyone who dared to challenge the system.
There is one part of the book that did strike me and that was her discussion of rumors of Martin’s infidelity. Accounts of philandering, allegedly picked up through FBI wiretaps has circulated for years. It is true that tapes were mailed to their house and Coretta elaborates on what they contained. She also has choice words for J. Edgar Hoover and his bureau. King’s friend Ralph Abernathy (1926-1990) comes under fire here for his statements in his autobiography And The Walls Came Tumbling Down wherein he discusses Martin’s transgressions. Coretta remains firm in her beliefs about Martin’s actions outside the home and Abernathy never changed his position. All are now deceased, leaving us without the opportunity to clear up the issue. What I can say is that I have never seen any photo evidence of such activity and the main source for the information came from the very agency whose job it was to discredit him. I will leave the issue up to the reader to research.
Dick Gregory once said that Black History is American History. One month in February does not come close to telling the full story. But that is easily circumvented through books such as this, written by those who were present during the defining moments in the American experience. Coretta is no longer with us, but her words of wisdom and guidance remain as a light to lead us through our darkest times, some of which have yet to come. Highly recommended.
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.
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 Lives-Kerry Kennedy
Recently, I watched the Netflix series Bobby Kennedy for President, a look back at Robert K. Kennedy’s (1925-1968) memorial campaign for the oval office in 1968 that was tragically cut short by his assassination at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California on June 5, 1968. The footage is good and the sense of loss from his death is evident from start to finish. His daughter Kerry is the president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and a world-renowned activist for social change and instrumental in keeping her father’s legacy alive. And with this recently published masterpiece, his legacy is assured to remain intact for future generations.
The book is not a biography of her father. There are others that have been published for that purpose including the well-respected and widely read Robert Kennedy and His Times, by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007) The purpose of this book is far different and in fact, it does not include biographical information. The book is a collection of interviews with a wide range of individuals who either knew him or were inspired by him. Quotes from him can be found in between interviews and sometimes in the middle. Also included in the book are photos of Kennedy, some of which may have been rarely seen until the publication of this book. Contained within the pages of this book are some of the best interviews I have ever read. Each speaker reflects on Kennedy but they also explain their own personal story, how Kennedy relates to it and how they intend for society to move forward.
The list of speakers is too long to type here but the first is Harry Belafonte, now in his 90s but still sharp as a tack. His interview is deep, thoughtful and sets the tone for the rest of the book. And with each speaker, the words become even more powerful. Following his tone, we read the words of Bono, Tony Bennett, Alfre Woodward and even former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. One interview that stood out to me among several, is that of MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough who until recently, was a registered Republican. His interview highlights Kennedy’s ability to transcend party lines and reach people from all walks of life. Scarborough is candid and he remains an important voice on the state of politics in America.
Author Thurston Clarke provides the foreword and an important question comes us that forms the premise of the book, “what did he have that he could do this to people?”. The question arose as his funeral train made its way to Arlington, Virginia. An estimated two million people lined the train route from New York to Washington, D.C. They came from different political parties and ethnic backgrounds but were united in grief. The question itself is one that America has been trying to answer since his death. In the pages of this book, it becomes clear that he had more than any of us could have imagined. Unfortunately for myself, I never had the opportunity to see him speak in person and have had to settle for his writings and those of others who knew him or decided to write about him. But his quotes and actions throughout his life have served as part the foundation upon which I live my life. Because of him, I have always understood the amount of courage it takes to speak your mind freely for the right cause even if it brings the wrong reaction. He was the first and the only politician I have ever seen walk into the most desolate and impoverished areas in this country. Instead of lip service to constituents, he possessed the drive and empathy to venture where no politician dared. And this point of view is firmly supported by the interviews in this incredible collection of words of wisdom sparked by a man whose main sense of purpose was those around him.
Kennedy’s transformation from Attorney General to Senator and then candidate for President of the United States had not been seen before and has not been seen in America since. In fact, the transformation was so surreal and the heartache so great, that David Halberstam made it the subject of a book, The Unfinished Odyssey of Robert F. Kennedy. In death, Kennedy has become one of the greatest what if questions we have. What if he had lived and been elected President? I think if he had, I and millions of other people would live in a very different America. Did he have the ability to end all of America’s problems? Not at all, no one does. But he would have set the country on the path it needed to be on. Some of the interviewers stated that they feel that the United States never got over his death. After reading about his life and studying his words, I believe they are correct. His death and that of John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) continue to haunt this nation as reminders of the dangers of extremism and the uncomfortable truth that those who dare to speak out and commit to profound change, remain targets for those committed to violence and social upheaval.
This past June, marked fifty years since he died and the passion with which people speak of him, speaks volumes about his life. We shall never see another Bobby Kennedy but what is consoling is that he lives on in the spirit of millions who have taken his messages to heart. Love him or hate him, his impact on America then and now is uncanny.
“Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live” – Robert Francis “Bobby” Kennedy
He was arguably the most feared and secretive intelligence officer to have worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. And although he left the agency in 1974, his name still conjures up images of the cold warrior with nerves of steel, engulfed in the world of counterintelligence and determined to protect the United States at all costs. Formally he was known as James Jesus Angleton (1917-1987), but to author Jefferson Morley, he is referred to as the ghost. The title fits appropriately for the secret life of the late CIA spymaster was one which Hollywood could never replicate on screen. By all accounts, his personality was outwardly unassuming, but behind the horn rimmed glasses, was an operative that ate, slept and breathed counterintelligence.
This project began in 1994 and the amount of research Morley has invested is impressive. Angleton did not leave behind diaries or personal writings, he was far too cloak and dagger for that He did however, testify before Congress as the CIA’s domestic mail spying program came under fire after being revealed by the press. The spymaster escaped without prosecution but his career at the agency was effectively finished. He would remain hidden in the shadows but still involved in the field until his death on May 11, 1987. The mystery surrounding Angleton helps to keep him in the public light, but what is it about him that is so fascinating?
Morley has composed a solid biography of Angleton, but there is still much about his life that has probably been lost to history. Angleton himself said that he would take things to his grave and I have no doubt that many secrets were buried with him. And next to Allen Dulles, Dick Helms, Bill Harvey, Cord Meyer and the many legendary officers once part of the OSS, Angleton stood as a gatekeeper to the trove of the Agency’s dark secrets. And throughout his life he was involved with a cast of characters who made their names famous as operatives of the agency that John F. Kennedy once threatened to scatter into a thousand pieces. As he moves up the ladder and increases his power, his secretiveness and paranoia grows at an exponential rate. His hunt for Soviet moles would prove to be one of the final nails in the coffin of his career and nearly crippled the CIA. But was he too paranoid or did he know more than he let on?
There is so much about Angleton’s life that remains a mystery. He was a family man, but his wife and children barely factor into the story. Instead, the book is filled with CIA intrigue, informants, double agents and political gambles in Washington. And sadly, it seemed that when no enemies existed, they were manufactured to suit personal agendas. And for Angleton, this might have been an underlying cause of his later obsession of moles within the government. But such was Angleton’s mind, the maze with false exits, traps and more riddles than answers. The man whom Morley calls “the ghost”, led a life which did not give away secrets and prevented even the most prying eyes from gaining too much insight. It may have been by design or just an extension of the counterintelligence legend’s way of operating.
To say that Angleton’s life was incredible would be a severe understatement. In fact, throughout every major event that takes place, the CIA seems to be close by and his actions regarding some are bizarre and even disturbing. Although detested by many, scared of by others and mind boggling to subordinates, he endeared himself to more than one president and those relationships gave rise to many questions surrounding his actions following JFK’s murder, RFK’s murder and the murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer.
By the time he died, his CIA life was far behind him but the saying goes that you never really leave the agency. For James J. Angleton, the agency was his life and in a taped interview with Thames TV in 1975, he stated pointedly that he regretted nothing. I have no reason to doubt him and after reading this book I believe that you will also feel the same way. But as I read the book, I could see that in more than one way his life was quite tragic. As Morley explains, secret intelligence work was his life, but what suffered in the process was his personal life and in some cases his health. In a tragic fate, the love he would give to the CIA would not come to him from his family. Even to them he remained the elusive ghost.
Readers who are familiar with the stories from the cold-war CIA era will know many of the facts revealed in the book. We have heard the names before and their actions are now well-known. But I do think that the section on Lee Harvey Oswald is telling and adds yet another question to the mystery of Kennedy’s murder. When asked about the assassination, Angleton reportedly said ” a mansion has many rooms, I was not privy to who struck John”. Exactly what he meant we will probably never know. But what is clear is that Angleton possessed knowledge of many things that most Americans would prefer not to know.
I cannot imagine that writing a book on a secret CIA operative is an easy task. But Morley’s account of Angleton’s life is a solid work and will be appreciated by historians. Love him or hate him, there is no denying Angleton’s legacy, fame and infamy in the annals of the history of the Central Intelligence Agency.
“Deception is a state of mind–and the mind of the state.”– James J. Angleton
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.
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.
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.
On January 30, 1957 the United States Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor and Management was created to investigate corruption in American labor unions. Designated with the role of Chief Counsel was a young attorney who later went on to become attorney general and 1968 democratic presidential hopeful, Robert F. Kennedy. In this memoir of his time on the committee, Kennedy recounts the exhaustive investigative efforts of those who served on the committee in an effort to shed light on the nefarious dealings of union and labor officials and effect reform throughout the United States. At the center of the committee’s target lay James R. Hoffa and his International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Starting with Dave Beck, Kennedy carefully reconstructs the deeply seated mismanagement of union funds resulting in the most opulent lifestyles for top officials. Facing a culture in place for many years, Kennedy and his staff are met with opposition and resistance to efforts to probe into the dark side of American labor unions. It’s no secret that Kennedy and Hoffa had a strong distaste for each other and on more than one occasion, Hoffa threatened the future attorney general with physical violence. Kennedy would respond with his “get Hoffa squad” in an attempt to bring down the man who Kennedy believed was a menace to the American way of life.
Kennedy’s memoir serves as a step back into time when labor unions and the American criminal underworld were held together with strong ties resulting in a dark cloud hanging over workers throughout the nation. And while John Kennedy does make an appearance, this is Bobby’s show and he does not disappoint. Some of the most notorious figures in underworld history also make an appearance such as Johnny Dio, Joey Glimco, Larry and Joe Gallo. Their testimony and the anecdotes about their appearances before the committee are both humorous and mystifying. We see through Kennedy’s recollections and samples of committee testimony that a very dark side to American labor unions remained unknown to the American public for many years. But this phenomenal account one of America’s most defining eras, has stood the test of time as a go to source for information of the mission to stop the legendary and infamous James Riddle Hoffa. And as Kennedy reminds us at the end, in order for society to move forward and for justice to prevail, we must always be willing to confront the enemy within.