Manuel Buendía was the most famous–and fearless–journalist in Mexico from the 1960s to the 1980s. Admired by colleagues and detested by politicians for his ability to ferret out stories that no one else perceived, Buendía was asked what he would say if he was ever killed for his journalism. “I had it coming,” he said.
Philip Shenon’s 2013 book, A Cruel and Shocking Act, reconstructed the story of the assassination of President Kennedy with an unusual focus: not on the perennial question of conspiracy but rather on a narrower issue: the destruction of evidence that followed in the wake of JFK’s murder on November 22, 1963.
Students of the JFK story already know much of the dismal tale, and Shenon adds story-telling verve and amazing detail to the trail of destruction, some of it human.
The book opens with the unnerving untold story of Charles William Thomas, a State Department official in Mexico City. In the mid-1960s, Thomas picked up on information about Lee Harvey Oswald’s famous trip to the Mexican capital in October 1963, six weeks before the president was gunned down in Dallas. Thomas insisted his superiors re-investigate the story. They responded by destroying his career. Thomas went on to commit suicide. The government later admitted error and compensated the family without much explanation of what had actually happened.
You have to wonder: If Oswald was a lone maniac, why destroy the man’s career for calling for a second look? You don’t have to agree with Shenon’s position on the larger conspiracy question to be impressed by the detail he brings to this story.
Shenon’s latest piece in Politico revealed that David Slawson, a Warren Commission investigator — and defender — now says the commission was deceived by the CIA and FBI and that Oswald may have had accessories in Mexico City. …