In an email this week to a group of JFK researchers, Summers explained his rationale for deleting information he had previously published and thought significant. While I don’t agree with his every decision, he has high critical standards and he sticks to them, even if it means revising his own published views. How many JFK authors do that? Not many.
“Omission in this context is in a real sense, commission — and I think though our attention may be largely on the Shenon book at the moment, group members may find this note interesting.
“And some group members will no doubt disagree!
* Dropped from the updated “Not in Your Lifetime” is the alleged episode in Clinton, Louisiana, in which Oswald was apparently sighted in Clinton with Guy Banister and David Ferrie. I long ago went to Clinton myself for the BBC – and interviewed several of the relevant witnesses. They seemed fairly credible at the time. As the entire thing has been demolished in a book by a researcher I respect, Pat Lambert, I have removed the passage from the text and consigned it to a much briefer note. (See p. 553, n.11)
* All references to the work of Cyril Wecht have been dropped. I spoke at a conference he held, and was amazed to hear him ranting from the stage on the subject. Having taken advice from others I do respect on the forensic area of the case, I felt only what seemed firmer should remain.
* The Tippit chapter is altered — in particular with reference to the pistol bullet evidence. See p. 106 of the new edition — re. “ballistics testimony dispels much of the doubt about Oswald’s guilt in the Tippit murder.” (I raise my hat to Dale Myers’ book on the Tippit case. (p. 499 new edition, Note 2)
* Virtually all the stuff in the old Chapter 20 (Double Image in Dallas) has gone. This was, in the old edition, about supposed sightings of an Oswald that may not have been the real Oswald. Now, I do not even now entirely reject the notion that Oswald was impersonated on occasion before the assassination. (What went on in Mexico City remains unresolved.) Too many of the sightings, however, did not belong in the text. You will now find them summarized in the Notes. (Note 9, at p. 578 of the new edition.)
* The celebrated use of the name Oswald in New Orleans, buying jeeps as early as 1961, was writ large in the earlier editions. It now seems less reliable. I thought it must be mentioned, however, because there’s a supporting contemporary document that fits in the case in an interesting way. The Deslatte episode now appears only in the Notes (p. 580, n 10)
*The emphasis on Ferrie has changed, retaining Ferrie’s early association with Oswald in the Civil Air Patrol but reducing the suggestion of his involvement at the time of the assassination. This because of the excellent, focused research on Ferrie by David Blackburst — who has worked just that seam over recent years, demolishing much of the shaky stuff propagated since the Garrison circus.
*Finally, at least in this letter, the dark suggestion that Braden/Brading was guiltily involved in Dallas on the day has gone. I had previously relied to a degree on the reporting of a fellow reporter named Pete Noyes. On closer examination, I felt that — though Braden/Brading (not a nice person) was in Dallas that day — the dark implications that have been drawn were shaky. You won’t find him in the index now.”