Best JFK novels: ‘Tears of Autumn’

Tears of Autumn I’ve always thought Don DeLillo’s “Libra” is the best fictional treatment of JFK’s assassination, followed closely by James Ellroy’s “American Tabloid.” But Washington author and agent Ron Goldfarb makes the case for another legitimate contender. In a piece entitled, Rereading Charles McCarrypublished last week in Washington Independent Review of Books, Goldfarb wrote:

“I’ve returned to Charles McCarry’s ‘The Tears of Autumn,’ a 1974 novel reissued in 2005 as a classic, by a former CIA agent, then editor, now novelist, and, in my judgment, if not the the best, one of Washington’s best authors. I read this book on the subject of the assassination years ago and was blown away by the rich literary quality of McCarry’s writing and intrigued by the persuasiveness of his unique speculation.”

It has been a while since I read the book but I recall being impressed by its taut realism about the milieu of the CIA in the early 1960s. I was skeptical about McCarry’s theory that the assassination emanated from JFK’s Vietnam policies, but the fact that McCarry was a career CIA officer and a political conservative made its conspiratorial take on JFK’s death all the more interesting.

4 comments

  1. Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

    It recalls that David Atlee Phillips wrote a manuscript, The Legacy of AMLASH, that could be also interesting, above all because it ends thusly:
    “I was one of the two case officers who handled Lee Harvey Oswald. After working to establish his Marxist bona fides, we gave him the mission of killing Fidel Castro in Cuba. I helped him when he came to Mexico City to obtain a visa, and when he returned to Dallas to wait for it I saw him twice there. We rehearsed the plan many times: In Havana Oswald was to assassinate Castro with a sniper’s rifle from the upper floor window of a building on the route where Castro often drove in an open jeep. Whether Oswald was a double-agent or a psycho I’m not sure, and I don’t know why he killed Kennedy. But I do know he used precisely the plan we had devised against Castro. Thus the CIA did not anticipate the President’s assassination but it was responsible for it. I share that guilt.”

  2. John Kirsch says:

    “The Tears of Autumn” is absolutely the best novel I’ve read about 11/22.
    I found “Tears” to be more plausible than just about anything else I’ve read about 11/22, fiction or non-fiction.
    “Corruption of Blood,” by Robert Tannenbaum, former deputy chief counsel to the congressional probe into JFK’s death, is also good.

  3. TLR says:

    Richard Condon’s WINTER KILLS is a black comedy about the assassination that captures the frustration of researchers trying to solve the case, and how it leads down the rabbit hole.

  4. bogman says:

    Seems like if McCarry’s premise was true, the CIA would’ve been all over this providing evidence to the public. The Vietnam assassinations just 3 weeks prior to JFK’s own death should be considered in any assessment of what happened, but they look like more CIA-driven policy running beyond the control of the administration again to me.

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