Review

Former CIA employee endorses ‘Our Man in Mexico’

former employee called my book about Winston Scott, chief of the CIA’s Mexico City station from 1956 to 1969,  “a realistic picture” of the agency.

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David Talbot’s top 7 JFK books

David Talbot

“There is a wealth of useful information about the Kennedy assassination available online,” writes Salon’s founding editor, David Talbot, who is now writing a book about Allen Dulles and JFK’s assassination.

“But before a beginner wades into these thickets, it’s best to start with some of the best books on the subject,” he adds.

Here’s Talbot’s top seven JFK books. Am I biased because Talbot is a friend and he includes my book? Yes, I am.

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JFK on video: ’50 Reasons for 50 Years’

Len Osanic’s comprehensive look at the JFK assassination story, available from Black Op Radio, presents a remarkable range of interviews, documents, and visuals. For students of the JFK story who are looking to dig deeper,”50 Reasons for 50 Years” is a good place to start.

Who was the only man to ever face legal charges for JFK’s assassination?

Clay Shaw, New Orleans businessman

His name was Clay Shaw. He was a wealthy, discreetly gay, businessman in New Orleans. He was indicted by District Attorney Jim Garrison for conspiring to kill JFK. When his case came to trial in 1969, Shaw was swiftly acquitted. He died in 1974. In Oliver Stone’s “JFK”, Shaw was played by Tommie Lee Jones.

In my view, there is no compelling evidence that Clay Shaw was involved in a conspiracy to kill the President Kennedy. Nonetheless, is is  true that a CIA official later described Shaw as “a highly paid contract source” for the agency in the 1950s — something the agency stoutly denied when Shaw was on trial.

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What did the doctor who examined JFK’s head wound say?


Dr. Robert McClelland stood at head of the gurney as the Parkland doctors attempted to save President Kennedy’s life. There is no more credible witness about the nature of JFK’s head wound.

Stephen Hunter goes ballistic: ‘The Third Bullet’ rethinks the JFK story

Bob Lee Swagger cracks the case.

Stephen Hunter is the cleverest JFK assassination conspiracy theorist to come along in many a year, so clever that few of his fellow theorists have even noticed that he is one.

In his latest novel, “The Third Bullet,” Hunter pulls off a an authorly act of legerdemain: he dresses up a rigorous reading of the forensic evidence about the assassination fo President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, in the guise of an international shoot ’em up thriller.

The trail of adventure runs from Baltimore to Moscow to Dallas as Hunter’s creaky alter ego Bob Lee Swagger, a humble soldier of fortune who packs a mean pistol, solves the crime of the century while chatting up old buddies and twitching for a drink.  Read more

Watch the trailer for JFK documentary, ‘Killing Oswald’


The film is called Killing Oswald. I haven’t seen it but Mark Groubert has and here is what he said in his review for Crooks and Liars: Read more

Jackie’ pink suit inspires a novel

The pink Chanel suit worn by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy on the day her husband was killed is a Shakespearan icon of the tragedy of November 22: a woman’s beautiful garment soaked in her husband’s blood.

“I didn’t want to pander, to become part of the cottage industry of Kennedy books,” says novelist Nicole Mary  Kelby about her new book, The Pink Suit. .”This book is not about cute clothes. It’s about how Jackie Kennedy set out to redefine how Americans defined themselves. Mamie and Ike Eisenhower (the Kennedys’ predecessors in the White House) were Grandma and Grandpa.”

This book isn’t even a book about Jackie Kennedy (she only appears once and is referred to throughout only as “the Wife”). Rather, it is a book about something that is now almost equally important: How November 22 shaped  the way Americans understand themselves.

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Geraldo Rivera changed America

(THE VIDEO REFERRED TO IN THIS PIECE HAS BEEN REMOVED FOR TECHNICAL REASONS)

Last year, Chris Vogner, movie critic for the Dallas Morning News, reminded us how the first broadcast of Abraham Zapruder’s film of JFK’s assassination on ABC TV in March 1975 changed American popular culture.

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Plausible suspect: William K. Harvey

“William King Harvey is worthy of our attention,” writes Alan Dale. In 1962, Harvey served as chief of Task Force W, the CIA’s anti-Castro operation, and then lost his job after an argument with Attorney General Robert Kennedy. When Congress investigated JFK’s assassination in the 1970s, the CIA pulled a 123-page file on Harvey’s operational activities.

All of that file remains secret, according to the National Archives online database.

Dale writes of Harvey:

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Pentagon history documents hostility to JFK in 1963

Michael Swanson, an investment adviser turned JFK researcher, called my attention to “Council of War,” a fascinating official history of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which documents the Pentagon’s resistance to, and resentment of, President Kennedy’s foreign policy, especially on Cuba and Vietnam.

Published last year by the JCS, the study presents an unvarnished view of an unprecedented mistrust between White House and Pentagon in the year before Kennedy was violently removed from power.

“Read this book and you are reading a real history of the American empire and defense establishment written for future leaders of the Pentagon and armed forces,” writes Swanson, who plans to publish his own study of the Cold War from 1945-1963 in the fall.

Some highlights from “Council of War:”

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‘Shadow Warfare’ coming in March

Larry Hancock’s new book, co-authored with Stuart Wexler, is called “Shadow Warfare: The History of America’s Undeclared Wars” and will be published by Counterpoint in March.

I just got my copy and am looking forward to sharing it with my students in my History of the CIA course at the University of California in the District of Columbia. Hancock is author of “Somebody Would Have Talked” about JFK’s assassination.

You can pre-order “Shadow Warfare” on Amazon.

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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.”

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Talking JFK in the online cafe

The JFK Assassination Books, Reviews and Discussion Facebook page is an amiable place to hang out thanks to David Rees Jones’s useful editorial rule: “We do not encourage comments on assassination theory unless as a direct result of reviewing the topic.”

This is a pace to ask people for recommendations about JFK books, movies and documentaries, and share your thoughts, all without getting into an argument. You can’t order your coffee from this page yet but presumably Zuckerberg’s minions are working on it. Read more

What James Swanson misses about the JFK story

Best-selling author James Swanson tells OregonLive.com that he is impatient with the proliferation of JFK conspiracy theories — and who can blame him? Swanson is correct that none have been proven.

But his impatience leads the author of “End of Days” into a logical mistake common in the debate about JFK’s assassination:

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