‘Tiny details can be critical:’ Mark Lawson on William Manchester

Its 700 pages cover just five days, from preparations for the flight to Dallas to the burial of the 35th president. … [Manchester constructs an astonishing multi-viewpoint narrative in sections named after the Secret Service code-words in use on the days in question, including “Lancer” (the president) and “Castle” (the White House).

Source: A forensic study of JFK’s death debunked the conspiracies  | Mark Lawson | Comment is free | The Guardian


  1. MDG says:

    From Death of a President
    “In the White House Situation Room Commander Oliver Hallett told Crown to bring the Cabinet plane straight back……..Pierre Salinger heard an even voice say: “From Stranger to Wayside.” Dean Rusk looked around in bewilderment. “Who is Stranger?” he asked. “Who’s in Washington?” …… Stranger was literally a stranger. He was Major H. R. Patterson, an obscure officer in the White House Communications Agency net control……Hallett and Patterson were acting …..because the governemnt was in a state of temporary paralysis. The Presidency abhors a vacuum…..Should the Chief Executive be inactive, relatively little men start taking over at once…..their motives aren’t selfish……..they merely believe certain steps are necessary. And they are quite right. The alternative is anarchy.”

    This part of the book (Chapter Four)is fascinating. It is surprising what Manchester says at times.

    This echoes what is heard in the AF1 Tapes about all the uncertainty in the hours after the Assasination.

    I dont think the truth about a Coup D’etat/Murder of a President and its impact on a nation cant be hidden forever.

    It is quite clear many in government did not know what was happening in the hours after the Assasination. WW3 was feared.

    It was very brave of Jackie Kennedy to have commissioned Manchester to write the book.

  2. Jack says:

    Long after this generation has passed, the historical perspective of William Manchester’s masterpiece will shine a light upon a defining period in time, illustrating where and when the forces of Good & Evil collided, squaring off akin to an old western style gunfight at high noon, with a winner take all sweepstakes hanging in the balance.

    Unfortunately, for the unarmed democratically elected leader of the people/republic, Evil entered the fray heavily armed and the lamb was lead to slaughter. The rest is history they say.

    Poor Bobby (RIP) should have simply known better to “leave well enough alone”. What senseless tragedies…two well intentioned souls gone far too soon from this realm. Will the world see their likes ever again?

  3. J.D. says:

    Reading the comments on the Guardian’s site is sobering.

    Any mainstream-media article on President Kennedy’s death invariably attracts comments of two types. The first are slapdash arguments that Kennedy was killed by the Illuminati, Israeli commandos, George H.W. Bush, the Koch brothers, or anybody else the commentator happens to consider a particularly reprehensible agent. The second are smug and confident arguments against any conspiracy, based on the Gospel According to Gerald Posner. Almost none of these comments reflect any familiarity with the very real research that has been done on the Kennedy case by reporters and historians such as Gaeton Fonzi, Jeff Morley, David Talbot, Peter Dale Scott, and Robert Sam Anson.

    Anonymous online comments may not be a particularly good source of objective information, but they can be useful for getting a general idea of what the common consensus is about a subject. They reflect the preconceptions, prejudices, confusions, and certainties of the public. If these comments tell us anything, it’s that the American public remains both intrigued by President Kennedy’s death and dangerously uninformed about it.

  4. Rick Anderson says:

    FROM LAWSON’s last paragraph:

    “For those who are convinced that Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy – or that Lyndon Johnson did – Manchester’s book is a travesty and a main supporting column of the establishment cover-up. For more open-minded readers – and any writer aspiring to tell the story of their times in any form – it is one of the few works of history that itself deserves to be described as historic.”


    He may have read it many times but his critical thinking skills seem to be turned off. He’s right Manchester’s book is historic. But rather than congratulating himself for the obvious – where is the call for WM’s working papers and notes and interviews to be released?

    The real history is in The Death Of Lancer.

    His premise that those that believe in a conspiracy feel the book is a travesty – is False!

    He was sleeping when JFK was killed and he owed John F. Kennedy better when he woke up. Lawson’s writing is truly a very marginal opinion piece.

    As a Reporter and Historian, Manchester should not have feared those who wished to look at his notes. And neither should Mr. Lawson. But the fact remains that these valuable and historic documents, which Mr. Manchester had exclusive access to, should not be denied to History.

    Yet today more than 50 years later they are not available. It is unacceptable.

    Mr. Lawson should surely agree.

  5. Allen Lowe says:

    not really sure why you give these guys space on your fine site, Jeff. It’s not ‘the other side’ in any balanced or coherent way, it’s just the utterings of other reporters who continue to be willfully ignorant of the whole crime and its 50 year arc of revelation. It’s a little bit like our national media who have continued to distort the national political scene by claiming the Dems have been just as obstructionist as the Republican. As someone else once said, repeat the lie often enough and people will accept it as truth.

  6. Vanessa says:

    The headline for the article by Mr Lawson is extremely misleading.

    If Manchester did do a forensic debunking of conspiracy theories none of them get mentioned in the article.

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