What’s the best recent book about the JFK assassination? 85 Comments / Assassination, Poll / By Jefferson Morley By recent I mean published for the first time in the last 10 years. Take Our Poll Share this:Tweet
85 thoughts on “What’s the best recent book about the JFK assassination?”
Thanks everyone for the accolades for my two books.
Very much appreciated.
The besf book I’ve read on the assassination is “The Unanswered Questions about the Kennedy Assassination” by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Sylvan Fox. Published in 1964, it asks the tough yet sensible questions about the WC that reassured me that I’m not crazy to be questioning the official story.
impeccably written and reasoned, I only came across it this year when my wife’s family sent me a box of JFK ‘memoriabilia’ collected by her grandmother. Turns out, she was a conspiracy buff from the get-go.
The two recent DiEugenio books, Destiny Betrayed (ver 2) and Reclaiming Parkland are superb. Vince Palamara’s Survivors Guilt also has excellent information. But overall my favorite since Douglass is Joe McBride’s Into the Nightmare. In general, Douglass is still probably the best one for the general reader and is beautifully written.
Ok Joe, you’ve convinced me, along with the amazon reviews, and other comments here and elsewhere, I’ll fork over the forty bucks for Mr. McBride’s Nightmare. I’ve got the other three, if it’s close to the others it should be excellent. At least I’ll get free shipping even with the new $35 minimum. It could prove a weighty matter. At 677 pages I guess the cost per page is not that high in relation to other books.
$$$ is the reason I’ve not read Doug Horne or Barry Krush volumes.
Nice, haha. You can prepare with this:
As it happens, I helped interview Joe, Doug, and Barry last year for an upcoming documentary film. I also did what must be the last video interview with John Judge. It’s in post now, will hopefully be out later in the year.
I didn’t know you can’t get the hard copy from amazon, only the Kindle. You can get if Through them from an independent seller for $4 shipping. If sales pick up in the next few weeks maybe the author will make a donation to this site…..
I look forward to seeing the film you mention.
I should add that Barry Krusch’s three volumes Impossible: The Case Against Lee Harvey Oswald is a fresh, detailed look at evaluating the admissibility of the so called evidence in the context of a murder trial and court rules.
State Secret: Wiretapping in Mexico City, Double Agents, and the Framing of LO by Bill Simpich
Chapter 1: The Double Dangle
Chapter 2: Three Counterintelligence Teams Watched Oswald
Chapter 3: The Cuban Compound in Mexico City Was Ground Zero
Chapter 4: Mexico City Intrigue – The World of Surveillance
Chapter 5: The Mexico City Solution
Chapter 6: The Set-up and the Cover-up
Conclusion: Only Justice Will Stop a Curse
The top others:
Rush to Judgment, by Mark Lane
Accessories After the Fact, by Sylvia Meagher
Oswald and the CIA, by John Newman
The Last Investigation, by Gaeton Fonzi
Breach of Trust, by Gerald McKnight
Destiny Betrayed, by James DiEugenio
“Destiny Betrayed (2d ed.)” is a lucid telling of the history of the U.S. covert operations against Cuba.
Based on what I’ve read thus far, diEugenio’s ‘Reclaiming Parkland’ is the best by far.
Surprised to see Bugliosi get so many votes on this forum.
Me too. I’d be surprised if most of those voting for it read the whole roughly 3000 pages if I remember right (including 1000 or so on the disc).
As far as a “big picture” book I Agree with M Ellis below.
Reclaiming Parkland destroys Bugliosi’s myth and puts together newer relevant info on the assassination.
On a micro level Our Man in Mexico and Girl on the Stairs are both very good.
It’s just outside the time limit, but I would pick “The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK and Malcolm X” by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease (2003).
Trying to figure out who killed JFK is a bit like tryng to figure out the murderer in Agatha’s Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express”, where 10 murderers have motives and actually try to “kill”the vicitim. But, in James Douglass’ book “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters” Douglass does a masterful job of delving into the WHY and the HOW. He shows us in vivid detail how JFK attempts to end-run around the CIA and his military advisors to make peace with the Soviets and Cuba, but is thwarted in most of his major moves by an undermining CIA, military or State Department. As for the HOW, he gives us well-documented evidence that: Oswald was on the CIA payroll, that autopsy results were manipulated, that letters were written to Warren Commission by Johnson asking that they find Oswald guilty (to prevent WWIII they were told, talk about clever covers!), that the Secret Service uncharacteristically left gaping holes in the President’s defenses during the parade, that Ruby was at the scene of the assassination that morning driving a truck from which a gun was unloaded and was given a carte blanche by someone in the Dallas Police to enter premises and get his shot at Oswald , that Oswald was linked to the Soviets by a clever use of doubles that even the Soviets knew about and brought to the attention of Clinton, that a similar attempt was made on JFK in Chicago only a month before Dallas and when the SS agent who witnessed everything tried to tell the Warren Commission he was picked up by agents and put in an insane asylum. Wake up people, this was an inside job!
With Unspeakable I can lend it to friends with no interest in the assassination, and with no back ground and they can understand and enjoy it. I would also have voted for Brothers by Talbot if I could have. I have also lent Brothers to friends with no interest in the assassination and they have enjoyed it.
With both books, when they are returned also returned have been ‘new recruits’ to the truth.
Unspeakable is vital to understanding why Kennedy was eliminated.
I totally agree with Frankie. There are so very many great books on this case but Unspeakable and Brothers are the best two to give to a novice. Like Frankie I have done this with success. Reading Unspeakable gives you all you need to know.
The LBJ books are bullshit. Sure he had motive but lacked means and opportunity. I believe he was involved but the “Mastermind”? Hardly. I began studying this case day one. At age fourteen.
Attorney Dawn Meredith
I’m not sure LBJ lacked the means and opportunity. He had close ties to J. Edgar Hoover, Edward Clark, and Mac Wallace. It’s quite conceivable that Clark(his attorney in Texas)put the assassination in motion, and that Wallace had killed many individuals who had information that could have put LBJ in prison. By the way, Wallace may well have been on the 6th floor of the TSBD at the time of shooting, and possibly been one of the shooters himself. The 36th POTUS indeed had connections.
I have that Mastermind book. I cracked it open and noticed the enhanced Altgens photo wherein the author says that LBJ is MIA and concludes that he probably ducked (under the guise perhaps of listening to a radio station on the motorcade but conveniently at the time of the first shots BEFORE his wife or Senator Yarborough reacts).
Sorry I hit Post too soon.
Anyways, it would be good if someone can give a better analysis of that photo.
LBJ may not have been a mastermind behind the assassination but he may have known that about a conspiracy and assisted with the cover-up by pursuing a politically expedient solution (The Warren Commission).
In some respects, can one blame LBJ? He may have also been in fear of the dark forces behind the assassination.
He went with the flow perhaps.
I have serious reservations concerning your guess or theory that LBJ simply “went with the flow”. Rather, I think he co-conspired, as he had done from the time he left the Texas Hill country to embark on his very clever, shady rise to power. Lyndon was too much of a wheeler-dealer to just “go with the flow”. He was one of the most manipulative, power-hungry politicians alive at that time. He deeply resented having to play “second fiddle” to another powerful political figure–JFK, and his brother Bobby. The fact that he was Vice President was strictly an uncomfortable marriage of convenience. JFK wanted Stu Symington in 1960, but LBJ used blackmail (probably aided by J. Edgar Hoover) to secure the Veep slot for himself. Robert Caro so much as outlines how corrupt LBJ was in his series on LBJ, but then for ideological or establishment reasons, refuses to connect the dots when it comes to LBJ’s willingness to kill for the office of the Presidency, as Nixon allegedly said to Roger Stone.
Is this Reedy book still in print? I have heard rumors that Reedy and LBJ were more than just friends. I am sure that a high-ranking Johnson aide had to resign because of a gay affair-was that Reedy? If so it would be another example of Johnson having ties to the homosexual “thrill killing” involving Clay Shaw. The CIA would have had knowledge of these actions and at least had blackmail on Johnson and Oswald with his Ferrie relationship.
What better way for Johnson to get in the good graces of the CIA by helping to set up the murder of the CIA’s greatest nemesis?
Brothers, JFK And The Unspeakable, & LBJ mastermind are the 3 best since 2007 in my humble opinion. I think Legacy Of Secrecy is very good at showing mob involvement, but is not convincing on the cover up. William Law’s book In The Eye Of History originally came out in 2004 and will be updated this year. It’s a fantastic work that gives an in depth chapter on many of the key witnesses at the Autopsy besides the 3 doctors. It’s interesting to note that each one including the 2 FBI Agents say at least 3 major things that do not coincide with either the Warren Report or HSCA. I wish that historians and journalists would be more familliar with the evidence before writing an article or review. Another troubling aspect is whenever a new book is reviewed you notice how all too often the work is reviewed as if this was the only book ever on the case not in conjunction with all the previous testimony etc. that is often highly contradictory.
What about Hit List by Richard Belzar?
My vote for best in the last 10 years would be Gerald D. McKnight’s “Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why” (2005).
Barry Ernst’s “The Girl on the Stairs” (2011).
“The Girl on the Stairs” is a terrific book.
Breach of Trust is a book anyone who has illusions that the Warren Commission or FBI actually investigated the crime seriously should read. It shows that the FBI, almost immediately, decided that Oswald was the lone nut, and simply didn’t follow up on evidence to the contrary. The FBI quickly formulated the “3 shots 3 hits theory” and didn’t bother to revise it even when the Tague story came out. Indeed, the FBI Sibert/O’Neil report is some of the best evidence we have that the single bullet theory is wrong. Instead of being open to the possibility of other shooters, the WC adopted the single bullet theory to fix this “problem”. And to do this, they had to lie about the location of the back wound in JFK (though not very convincingly).
McKnight also makes the good point that the FBI motive for the cover up was also likely because their image had taken a huge hit. Hoover was getting hordes of letters from the public accusing him of incompetence. As a result, Hoover wanted to solve the crime immediately and restore his image as a national hero. Hoover was also rather clearly going to do whatever LBJ wanted him to do, so that he could retain the directorship for as long as possible.
This whole affair really shows how similar in some ways the US and USSR were during this time period. If this assassination had occurred in the USSR, and 2 days later, Soviet internal security was quoted in Pravda as saying they had the lone nut that did it, everyone in the US would just laugh at it and say “no, what really happened?” Of course, this was the reaction outside of the US immediately when the crime was pinned on LHO.
Did it ever occur to you that J. Edgar Hoover was involved in the JFK assassination? Meaning – knowing it was going to occur and knowing his role and LBJ’s role would be to cover it up?
Hoover left work on 11/22/63 at 5PM and on the next day Saturday he spent the afternoon at the horse races with his boyfriend Clyde Tolson.
“A doctor admitted that it was possible there was only one wound” … that is a sentence an FBI agent added to the copy of Connie Kritzberg in her article on the JFK assassination that was printed on 11/23 and written in late afternoon 11/22/63.
The title of her story in the paper Dallas Times Herald, dated 11/23/63 was:
“Neck Wounds Bring Death to President”
“Wounds in the lower front portion of the neck and the right rear side of the head ended the life of President John F. Kennedy, say doctors at Parkland Hospital.
Whether there were one or two wounds was not decided. The front neck hole was described as an entrance wound. The wound at the back of the head, while the principal one, was either an exit or tangentially exit wound. A DOCTOR ADMITTED THAT IT WAS POSSIBLE THERE WAS ONLY ONE WOUND.”
Read this link on Connie Kritzberg: http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=17687
Lyndon Johnson was at the epicenter of the JFK assassination. I think the immediate cover up by the FBI means Hoover was in on it as well. Both were plugged into Texas oil, key perps.
If Hoover was involved from the beginning, then Sibert and O’Neill didn’t get the memo. Their testimony is some of the best proof we have that the JFK back wound did not go all the way through.
I think the FBI likely covered up a lot of what they knew about Oswald pre-assassination because they were embarrassed by the whole affair. In the aftermath, it is clear that the FBI and CIA were rivals and had a hard time cooperating in anything.
The fact is, all the respective power centers had a strong incentive to pin the blame on Oswald and move on. No one wanted the public to open the kimono and realize that the US was not nearly the “exceptional” democracy they had been taught in school. Katzenbach exemplified this view – he was clearly more concerned about the US looking like a banana republic in the eyes of the world than whether the US actually was one.
The Kennedys were trying to get rid of Lyndon Johnson from Day 1 in the Administration. LBJ had made a hostile takeover of the vice presidency at Los Angeles 1960; Symington was JFK’s pick who LBJ had elbowed out of the way. Robert Novak married a secretary (Geraldine) of LBJ’s & here is his conversation with LBJ in the summer of 1962:
“After a Texas-style cookout, LBJ reclined, nearly prone, by the swimming pool. It was just the two of us drinking Scotch, and he spoke with a candor he never bestowed on me before or after. He felt the Kennedy administration was in serious trouble, losing the cold war to the Soviet Union and losing the legislative war to conservatives in Congress. He said that he had done everything the Kennedys had wanted, including foreign missions that only guaranteed him bad publicity.
He was repaid with insults and humiliation, especially from the attorney general. Johnson was sure Bobby Kennedy was plotting to dump him in 1964. “But I’m going to fool them,” he said. “I’m going to pack it in after the term ends and go home to Texas.” That would have been a huge scoop, but I knew Johnson was just blowing off steam.
As for going back to Texas, the political environment there was hardly more congenial for LBJ than it was in Washington. Johnson’s protege, John B. Connally, had just won the Democratic nomination for governor of Texas, which still all but guaranteed election in Texas. As secretary of the Navy, Connally had been the highest Kennedy administration official bearing the LBJ brand.
But campaigning for governor, Connally removed the brand. With JFK and LBJ both unpopular in Texas, Connally ran against the administration he had just left, and won. Talking about Big John in that summer evening in 1962 led Johnson into self-pity. “John has turned my picture to the wall,” LBJ told me. “You know I would never turn his picture to the wall.””
[Robert Novak, “The Prince of Darkness,” p. 90-91]
Robert, if all of that is true why go to Texas?
If the Democrats controlled the Senate to the point that no investigation of Johnson or any other prominent Democrat could take place, the Baker allegations were irrelevant. As for leaks, there was more dirt on JFK than Lyndon, including sanctioning assassinations of Foreign leaders from Saigon to Santo Domingo, let alone Cuber. So RFK detested Lyndon-what else is new? He detested him in 1960 but he still was on the ticket. The Lincoln quotes are interesting- but you seem to forget that Mrs. Lincoln, who was JFK’s personal secretary for years and in some ways was closer to him than Jackie, always claimed that she knew nothing about Kennedy’s affairs and that he was as innocent as an altar boy, which is simply not credible. At least one paramour claimed Mrs. Lincoln helped arrange schedules around Mrs.Kennedy. So I would take the re-election claims with a grain of salt- and also a heavy does of reality.#1 as a creature of the Senate JFK knew that Senate rules and traditions were the privilege of the Senate, not the Executive. JFK had no standing or power to make any changes in Senate or House rules, particularly seniority.That he would even make such a statement is not logical. The idea that he would replace the former Senate Majority Leader who had strong personal relationships with virtually every Senate committee chairman with a governor who had none to change the rules of the Senate makes no sense.
You seem to throw out a lot of statements and data without a fundamental understanding of the facts that impeach your interpretation. If JFK had decided to dump Johnson the Texas trip would have made no sense, as without Lyndon there was no way he was going to take Texas. This brings up the Roberts issue from the other day. You made claims about an author claiming statements that Carlos Hathcock made, without admitting that the author apparently claimed falsely to be a Marine sniper. You also reported that an attempt to duplicate the assassination was made at Quantico, Virginia. I live just outside the base and am very familiar with the story of Hathcock and know several of his former comrades. I have also had the privilege to meet the Marine that Hathcock pulled out of a burning vehicle , saving that Marine’s life while severely injuring his own hands and arms. The claims that you made in regards to this hero are false,leading me to question what else you say may be false. My understanding is that you claim to have been in the CIA. Well, tell me something. There is no record of you being in any way associated with the Agency,any subcontractor, any other related unit. Why is that?
Geez, Photon, do your homework. It’s a different Robert Morrow. The other Morrow died a long time ago.
As far as why JFK would go to Texas if he was gonna dump Johnson…it’s the same reason Obama goes to California when he knows it’s in his party’s pocket…M-O-N-E-Y. The Presidency is a national office. Green is good everywhere. Perhaps, just perhaps, JFK started his campaign in Texas because he wanted to get the money–quick–before Bobby buried Lyndon.
Photon, you’ve got the wrong Robert Morrow. You’re mixing this guy up with the author of “The Senator Must Die” and a book or two about the JFK assassination, “First Hand Knowledge,” a guy who went to military school in PA, then worked (he says) as a contract agent for CIA in the sixties, in Maryland. Bottom line: The Robert Morrow who posts here lives in Texas and isn’t the same guy. Get your facts straight.
“Well, tell me something. There is no record of you being in any way associated with the Agency,any subcontractor, any other related unit. Why is that?”
Photon, I missed this provocative assertion last Spring. How can anyone speak with such assuredness unless one has access to a very deep cache of government files?
If you can point us to that online public information, that would certainly go some distance in establishing that you are participating here in good faith. Otherwise you are claiming that you have access to restricted material, in which case you should, ethically, produce your bona fides; otherwise I challenge Jeff Morley to ask you to cease participation in the comment section of his site.
Sorry for these extended posts; but some folks need to be educated on the state of the JFK/LBJ non-relationship as of 11/22/63:
JFK’s secretary (for 12 years) Evelyn Lincoln:
“As Mr. Kennedy sat in the rocker in my office, his head resting on its back he placed his left leg across his right knee. He rocked slightly as he talked. In a slow pensive voice he said to me, ‘You know if I am re-elected in sixty-four, I am going to spend more and more time toward making government service an honorable career. I would like to tailor the executive and legislative branches of government so that they can keep up with the tremendous strides and progress being made in other fields.’ ‘I am going to advocate changing some of the outmoded rules and regulations in the Congress, such as the seniority rule. To do this I will need as a running mate in sixty-four a man who believes as I do.’ Mrs. Lincoln went on to write “I was fascinated by this conversation and wrote it down verbatim in my diary. Now I asked, ‘Who is your choice as a running-mate?’ ‘He looked straight ahead, and without hesitating he replied, ‘at this time I am thinking about Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina. But it will not be Lyndon.'”
Evelyn Lincoln was a very good ‘secret’-ary.
Questions for Jeff.
Your book is on my list. Meantime this: (a) Do you think Win Scott was a good guy? (b) Is there any reason to believe Scott signaled the FBI on 11/22/63 that Oswald WAS being impersonated in M.C. and that the FBI needed to ferret out a conspiracy?
So JFK was going to execute “Lyndon Johnson with all of the bribes/kickbacks… had a lot of sexual secrets as well”.
Robert Marrow, if that was true what the hell was JFK doing in Texas on November 22,1963?
Your question is to Robert but I like it.
My take is JFK trusted the people and his Praetorian guard. He was right about the people; they welcomed him warmly, as Nellie Connally noted.
He was wrong about his guard, IMO. Winston Lawson (who set the parade route), Emory Roberts (who controlled the SS guards in Dallas), Greer, and Kellerman — they all let him down. Inexplicably.
Photon, you argue from a conclusion, which is Oswald did it. Three shots from behind and above. Arguing from a conclusion is easy. It gives one apparent power.
I have no conclusion.
Dillon is a real mystery, IMO.
Stand-up guy with CFR credentials. His dad and he liked the Nazis.
A real frigging mystery.
The Texas trip was a political trip to hold Texas in 1964, but the Kennedys were going to destroy Lyndon with dirt? How could that possibly help hold Texas-it would have pushed it into the Goldwater camp, thereby knifing some of the same congressman we see in assassination videos.This has nothing to do with the assassination except for a reason for JFK to be in Dallas. Robert’s conclusion that the Kennedys were going to dump Lyndon would have made the whole Texas trip pointless-leading me to wonder if his reasoning is this flawed what else is he getting wrong? Or right for that matter.
“The Texas trip was a political trip to hold Texas in 1964….” Right.
You wouldn’t have made a good C.I. officer, photon.
You’re intelligent. But you don’t play along.
Well, the conventional wisdom is that the Texas trip was to smooth the ruffled feathers between Yarborough and the Johnson faction, but the real reason was to raise money for what was expected to be a tough fight for a state they needed to win. They really weren’t afraid of Goldwater, despite the hype because they could have beaten him with or without Texas. The problem was they were afraid that they could lose the one state that every Democrat needed to win the White House- New York. The real reason to go to Texas was to beat Nelson Rockefeller.
As far as Dillon being a Nazi sympathizer, the most prominent and powerful Nazi sympathizer was Joseph P. Kennedy, who advised FDR to abandon Churchill and make a deal with Hitler.
He may have thought about canning LBJ but JFK was well received in Texas on that final trip, besides the odd extremist and assassination of course.
“The Texas trip was a political trip to hold Texas in 1964, but the Kennedys were going to destroy Lyndon with dirt?”
Yes—Why ELSE would Robert Kennedy keep feeding LIFE Magazine with dirt on the Billy Sol Estes and Bobby Baker scandals, which threatened the political future of Lyndon Baines Johnson?
Sorry, but you have so far evaded answering this basic question!
JSA, I don’t know that getting rid of Johnson was going to fix things for the Kennedy Administration; journalist Drew Pearson seemed to report (reading between the lines possibly*) that the Estes scandal in particular was larger than lil’ ol’ Billie Sol and could bring down the entire Administration, Kennedy with it.
*Pearson wrote: “First place in Billie Estes’ personal portrait gallery goes to Mr. Kennedy’s photo on which JFK inscribed: “For Billie Sol Estes with appreciation and warm regards.”
Pearson went on to report the wider implications of the Estes scheme involving among other entities, national conglomerate Commercial Solvents. All that I am suggesting is that the feud between Johnson and RFK made a lot of headlines, but how much of the real background to this scandal has been overlooked.
As I have said, I don’t think that the Kennedys were “squeaky clean.” Far from it! But I suppose when you look at the big picture, of what Kennedy was doing to try to lessen nuclear cold war tensions, he was on the “right side” of mankind’s survival. But to answer your point more directly, I think perhaps by dumping Johnson, the Kennedys would get a major thorn out of their administration, AND they could try at least to curtail or direct the WAY the scandal was to open up, in a pre-Watergate era which was far different than post-Nixon.
It’s pretty obvious to all but maybe the Bill Moyers types that LBJ was viewed as a usurper by the Kennedy loyalists, some of whom stayed on because they saw where the new power was flowing and they were trying to be pragmatic. I think if Kennedy had somehow been able to avoid Dallas (as he had Chicago a few weeks before, aborting the dangerous trip to Soldier Field), 1964 would have been a Kennedy victory. People said Obama wouldn’t get reelected either, and he did. I’m speculating that JFK had enough momentum and popular support to get reelected. Then he could have made some changes such as deescalation of Vietnam, the same way he deescalated Berlin and Cuba, by insisting on not sending US military boots on the ground (in Cuba anyway). Kennedy surprised people when he came out for the nuclear test ban, a bold step for 1963. He had more bold plans for after the election of ’64. Robert Dalek and others have mirrored what I have said; I didn’t just pluck this stuff out of the blue.
JSA, I’m just not sure what we mean when we say LBJ was a thorn in the side of the administration. Do we believe that Kennedy might not have been re-eleccted in ’64 because Johnson was on the ticket? This is a president who navigated through one of the greatest threats ever to human survival vis a vis the Cuban missile crisis, but we are to believe that the popular vote in 1964 was going to be diverted from him because of some fertilizer tanks in Texas? Who was selling that story? To what end?
And I’m not sure who we mean when we say Kennedy loyalists? The small cadre of close friends he managed to ensconce closest to him? For the most part, his key cabinet posts were filled by establishment men recommended by Robert Lovett, and clearly the military held nothing but disdain for him. So who were these loyalists, by name?
His reelection was dependent upon the popular vote, and given his speeches during 1963, particularly at the American University – average Americans were inspired and reassured, having collectively endured the missile crisis.
History has always been written by the victors. Perhaps we will finally begin to challenge that paradigm and set this record straight.
“JSA, I’m just not sure what we mean when we say LBJ was a thorn in the side of the administration. Do we believe that Kennedy might not have been re-eleccted in ’64 because Johnson was on the ticket?”
No, Johnson was a thorn in the side of JFK (and Bobby) because he was baggage-laden, with crony Texas oil ties and because he supported the military over President Kennedy, telling the Joint Chiefs that he backed them but couldn’t do anything because he was only Vice President. He also caused tension with Bobby, calling him a “little piss ant” behind his back. But the biggest reason why LBJ was a thorn was because he was willing to not only support a coup to murder JFK, but was willing to help cover it up afterward. That’s TREASON.
“This is a president who navigated through one of the greatest threats ever to human survival vis a vis the Cuban missile crisis, but we are to believe that the popular vote in 1964 was going to be diverted from him because of some fertilizer tanks in Texas? Who was selling that story? To what end?”
Nope. I don’t think JFK needed LBJ for 1964. LBJ needed JFK. Or needed him eliminated, in order to survive politically, if indeed JFK had intended to dump him, as Evelyn Lincoln said JFK told her late in 1963.
“And I’m not sure who we mean when we say Kennedy loyalists? The small cadre of close friends he managed to ensconce closest to him? For the most part, his key cabinet posts were filled by establishment men recommended by Robert Lovett, and clearly the military held nothing but disdain for him. So who were these loyalists, by name?”
Perhaps “Loyalists” is too strong a word. It was used to describe those on the plane from Dallas who didn’t want Jackie to have to stand with LBJ for the swearing in, who drank in the back of the plane on the flight back. In the cabinet, of course I would include in the “loyal” category Robert Kennedy, as well as Robert McNamara, who had been left out of the loop at Pentagon regarding plans for a coup in Dallas. I would also include Bill Walton, Ken Galbraith, Ted Sorensen, Walter Heller, and Stuart Udall as Kennedy men, as well as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Lem Billings, Red Fay, and Walter Sheridan. These people were not all cabinet members of course, but were Kennedy people who didn’t feel as comfortable or as inspired working under LBJ, or who left shortly after the assassination.
“His reelection was dependent upon the popular vote, and given his speeches during 1963, particularly at the American University – average Americans were inspired and reassured, having collectively endured the missile crisis.”
Kennedy would have been reelected, and I think it wouldn’t have mattered if he had dumped LBJ so much. He still could have won. It wasn’t 1960 in 1964. Kennedy had established himself with enough of the public and could have explained (I think effectively) that LBJ was “tired and wanted to retire” so he was picking a new running mate in his place. He was considering North Carolinian Terry Sanford for the ’64 Veep slot.
JSA, excellent points, but the subtle drift toward Johnson being involved in the authorization, planning, and execution of the assassination of John Kennedy concerns me. If I’m misreading your implications, I will stand corrected.
You say: “No, Johnson was a thorn in the side of JFK (and Bobby) because he was baggage-laden, with crony Texas oil ties and because he supported the military over President Kennedy, telling the Joint Chiefs that he backed them but couldn’t do anything because he was only Vice President.”
History is replete with the second in command being insecure and inevitably acting as adversary to his superior so I view this argument as politics as usual (Nixon ditched Agnew easily … whatever happened to Quayle, etc.). As it happens, Kennedy and Johnson were able adversaries locked in a scorpion’s embrace. I grew up amidst this political milieu, and I know the background to this dynamic. You are so accurate when you identify Johnson’s relationship with the oil industry and Texas power brokers, but you may be underestimating the tail wagging the dog. Inner circles resort to “little piss ant” comments all of the time… that does not mean that Johnson had Kennedy killed.
I would hardly consider your list of those having Kennedy’s back as anything but loyal (and by the way admirable) foot soldiers to Kennedy’s efforts toward furthering democracy. However I believe they will be little more than ‘footnotes’ in history, and that they served as cannon fodder against the machine that murdered Kennedy.
I argued similarly when Obama came on the scene: on the surface he had no infrastructure except for the idealists that were captured by his charisma. Like Kennedy, he did not hail from generations of blue bloods immersed in the financial, industrial complex that built our military into what it is today; therefore, he would not be able to further democracy. My personal hope was that he would serve as a stop gap. I think that Kennedy had more ‘mo’ behind him than Obama (although I now realize that the Chicago/Nuclear machine behind him is far more sinister than has been recognized), but alas not rooted in American aristocracy. There was nothing but the populus between Kennedy’s reelection in ’64 and those who hated him and his agenda.
Leslie, after reading about how ABSOLUTELY CORRUPT Lyndon Johnson was in both the Robert Caro books and in other books, I find it hard to not find him guilty of both assisting in and in covering up the JFK assassination. That doesn’t mean I think he acted alone. I think he had powerful helpers, from Brown & Root (oil money) to CIA, J. Edgar Hoover, and the mob (who worked with and were employed by CIA to go after Castro and to traffic in drugs). AND I don’t think the Kennedys were innocent lambs entirely either, although if I had to take sides, my side would have been with the Kennedys, because at least they were in favor of stemming the nuclear arms race, and for a continuation of FDR New Deal policies but without the Vietnam War, as Johnson was. I also find JFK and RFK to be far more nuanced and politically (and culturally) sophisticated than LBJ and Nixon were.
Regarding Obama, he doesn’t come from a powerful family as the Kennedys did, he doesn’t have brothers in power to help him, and he came into power unable or unwilling to challenge the “security state industrial complex” that grew to balloon-sized proportions under George W. Bush and Cheney. On top of that, Obama faces an extremely conservative Supreme Court and the most partisan House of Representatives in modern history. Kennedy had it a bit easier, although he DID get assassinated, which makes me wonder just how far anyone can go against the grain of very entrenched, very powerful special interests in this country (Big Oil, the Military, the Police State of Intelligence Agencies, etc.).
Life magazine ran a strong expose’ on the Bobby Baker scandal 2 weeks before Nov. 22, on the 23rd the 2nd installment printed with the third planned for December, supposedly it would have been a knock-out punch for LBJ. Roger Stone says JFK met with 5 journalists and gave them the go-ahead to take LBJ out. Of course events intervened before December and the third piece never ran. But search for the Dec. 13 1963 Life cover, it’s a pic of LBJ leaning over the desk in the Oval Office, if you could have picked a shot worth of a caption like “yeah ah did it” this would be the one. Perhaps a message in place of the story they couldn’t print.
John Kennedy was raising money for his political campaign and also honoring Cong. Albert Thomas who was both a friend of his and LBJ’s.
Robert Kennedy had a well developed 2 track program to destroy Lyndon Johnson: 1) a LIFE magazine expose into LBJ’s corruption that was coming out on 11/29/63 and 2) a Senate Rules Committee investigation into LBJ’s corruption. RFK was feeding both of them all the ammo he had on LBJ’s corruption.
Here is the LIFE Mag info: http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=14966&st=0
The Kennedys were on the verge of slitting the throat of LBJ. Johnson was *not* going to be on the 1964 Demo ticket and LBJ was very aware of that and very aware of the Kennedys sub rosa efforts to destroy him – [Seymour Hersh, “The Dark Side of Camelot,” pp. 406-407]
In a series of interviews for this book, Burkett Van Kirk, who was chief counsel in 1963 for the Republican minority on the Rules Committee, told me of his personal knowledge of Bobby Kennedy’s direct intervention. “Bobby was feeding information to ‘whispering Willie'” – the nickname for Senator John Williams. “They” – the Kennedy brothers, Van Kirk said – “were dumping Johnson..” Williams, as he did earlier with Donald Reynolds’s information about Lyndon Johnson, relayed the Kennedy materials to the senior Republican on the Rules Committe, Carl Curtis. The attorney general thus was secretly dealing with Williams, and Williams was dealing secretly with Curtis and Van Kirk. The scheming was necessary, Van Kirk told me, because he and his fellow Republicans understood that a full-fledged investigation into Bobby Baker could lead to the vice president. They also understood, he said, that the chances of getting such an investigation where slim at best. The Democrats had an overwhelming advantage in the Senate – sixty-seven to thirty-three – and in every committee. The three Republicans on the ten member Rules Committee, Van Kirk said, had little power. “We never won one vote to even call a witness,” he told me. The investigation into Bobby Baker and Lyndon Johnson would have to be done in a traditional manner – by newspaper leak.
Van Kirk, who was named after his grandfather Senator E. J. Burkett of Nebraska, said that Bobby Kennedy eventually designated a Justice Department lawyer that fall to serve as an intermediary to the minority staff; he began supplying the Republicans with documents about Johnson and his financial dealings. The lawyer, Van Kirk told me, “used to come up to the Senate and hang around me like a dark cloud. It took him about a week or ten days to, one, find out what I didn’t know, and two, give it to me.” Some of the Kennedy-supplied documents were kept in Williams’s office safe, Van Kirk said, and never shown to him. There was no doubt of Bobby Kennedy’s purpose in dealing with the Republicans, Van Kirk said: “To get rid of Johnson. To dump him. I am as sure of that the sun comes up in the east.”
[Seymour Hersh, “The Dark Side of Camelot,” pp. 406-407]
Albert Thomas a friend of JFK? Then what was that “wink” all about in Air Force One?
A book I’d like to read is one that examines the connections between Dallas, Chappaquiddick, and Watergate in new depth.
I think James Douglass’s book is persuasive as to motive; “Farewell to Justice” is persuasive as to the CIA’s undermining of the Garrison investigation and as to Garrison the man; and Nelson’s book is persuasive as to the criminality of LBJ but not entirely convincing as to his role in plotting (as distinguished from mere foreknowledge).
Footnote: I was somewhat disappointed in Talbot’s book. It did not address RFK’s personal secrets that made him vulnerable, secrets involving various women. He was badly compromised and had to be against a real investigation of JFK’s murder in order to protect himself.
BTW, a C.I. officer is trained to look for and uncover sexual and financial vulnerabilities in those who have access to secrets.
I think you need to support this, and from primary sources, please.
Mellon is rather a mess as an historian.
I’d like to reference the three titles I would add to be in cluded with Mr. Douglass’ and Mr. Talbot’s essential contributions to our study:
Oswald and the CIA, John M. Newman, (2008 edition)
Our Man in Mexico, Winston Scott and the Hidden History of The CIA, 2008, Jefferson Morley
Enemy of the Truth: Myths, Forensics, and the Kennedy Assassination, 2012, Sherry P. Fiester
I consider each to be invaluable in our continuing process of acquiring greater depth of understanding.
“Enemy of the Truth” is the only forensically based book which addresses the assassination with the most contemporary information available. Therefore, I was a little disappointed to see it was not specifically mentioned in the poll. Especially since it is being well received by the major assassination researchers who have read it. I understand discovering “who” and knowing “why” is the major concern of the majority of persons reading this site, but understanding “how” the President was killed is just as important. My book definitively answers questions that that have plagued the research community for years, including proving where the shooter for the fatal head shot was located, and explaining the forward movement of the president’s head, subsequently establishing scientifically why there were not two simultaneous shots to the head. Thank you Alan, for mentioning Enemy of the Truth.
Just ordered your book along with some others. Looks really good scientifically.
Just ordered that book too along with The Girl on the Stairs. Unspeakable ignited a strong reaction from me.
Like I had been sleeping prehistoric as the official excrement slopped and hardened and shoveled by OfficialDumb (supported by some people on this list), erected like a 6th floor museum in all its bully pompous monumental feudal posturing and sermonic ‘udderings’ with IQ deficit reasoning, so I got mad.
Hope I am not violating protocol here. We need to catch the bastards and prosecute them. St Peter might revoke a few heavenly passages but that’s his job! Anybody who defends that waste management monument is complicit.
Thank you for promoting your own book.
I do not mean this ironically.
Today’s media environment will ignore ANY good books on the JFK assassination.
So it is incumbent on authors to self-promote. If they do not, they are doing a disservice to the truth.
I’m happy to share anything that I consider to be of value. I’m still waiting for anybody in the national media to pick up on how important your research is to those of us who are a bit fatigued after 49 years of arguing over well intentioned attempts to interpret the facts.
Thank you for your exceptional contribution of introducing to the rest of us what the new world of contemporary, 21st century forensic research has to say about our search for progress.
I just got done reading it today, and enjoyed it very much. The blood spatter concept is extremely interesting.
I’m certainly convinced there was a shot from the front, and your probability cone of where that shot came from is pretty thought provoking (though clearly it has spawned a great deal of disagreement in the community).
Yeah,Fiester’s book should have been on the list. But maybe Morley has not read it yet. Doesn’t her analysis put a shooter in the far SW quadrant of the “plaza.” ? Maximum range of sniper rifles at the time around 300yards? I don’t really know.
I got your book and autograph but haven’t had a chance to read it, although I’m looking forward to your analysis. I’m sure I’ll have questions though. Would JFK Lancer be the best place to correspond on that?
My favorite book is Phillip Nelson’s “LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination” (2010). There is more on LBJ’s role in the JFK assassination than any other single person. The problem with Douglass’ book is that it does not name names and I think we are beyond that, especially in Johnson’s case.
I read the LBJ: Mastermind book myself (and have read the first three volumes of Robert Caro’s books on LBJ, plus “A Texan Looks at Lyndon” and “Blood, Money and Power” by Barr McClellan.
I too think Lyndon Johnson HAD to have not only known that the assassination was going to take place, but that he probably had a hand in it. However, I think it goes beyond just LBJ. If it was JUST Lyndon, there might have been the big Warren Commission cover up still, but there wouldn’t be an institutional guard against information today, a block joined by most of the mainstream media, publishing in print and video, as well as intelligence blocking from the remaining files related to the assassination. So I think not only was LBJ involved, but probably military and intelligence, and the reason why Americans are still not hearing the truth about the JFK assassination in 2013 is because certain power holders (such as CIA, FBI and maybe even some military intelligence) would be at the very least embarrassed by the truth, and at worst, feel the public might turn on them in a way that would make the Church investigations of the seventies look like a picnic by comparison. They are protecting their ‘crown jewels’ so to speak.
I might add that, although I’m NOT one who harbors 9/11 attack conspiracy beliefs, I do think that the Bush administration was criminally negligent about warnings, plus I think our oil addiction put our tremendous oil power structure on notice with the attacks, in essence, saying to get out of the Middle East. Instead of working with the UN and the developed countries to stem these rogue pirate terrorist attacks (because that is what I think 9/11 was, as James Bamford so eloquently writes), the way Bush and his successor, Obama, have acted was to play into the hands of the instigators: build a vast, secretive new “Homeland Security” empire that makes us ultimately vulnerable to the worst sort of big brother abuses. If you’d like to read about this new giant secret empire, an excellent book I can recommend is “Top Secret America” by Dana Priest, a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist.
Because we now have (post 9/11) an even worse closed, secret state, I have my doubts that much of the JFK assassination story will ever be fully revealed (that which is still held from the public). That doesn’t mean we should quit or give up. We’re Americans. We have faced difficult challenges in our history many times before. Maybe an “Assange-like” wiki leaks of some of the JFK documents is what is needed? That would be a giant triumph of the people over an abusive, bloated secret nation state.
Paragraphs 1 & 3, I concur with you %100.
My problem with 9/11 conspiracy theories is that, just as the JFK Warren Commission story doesn’t hold up to the facts, none of the ‘controlled demolition’ or other theories hold up to the facts. I’m very choosy about what I think is a conspiracy of US government officials — and what I think isn’t.
I attended a talk where James Bamford spoke (about his book on 9/11) and he said HE wasn’t convinced by any of the 9/11 conspiracy theories either. He was the one who I think it was who broke the ‘Operation Northwoods’ cold war plan, in his book about the NSA, “Body of Secrets” which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
At the above webpages, Mark Robinowitz articulates–and sets up side by side–several categories of narrative: 1. official story; 2. limited hangout; 3. best evidence; and 4. disinformation.
I urge you to consult these pages and the sources to which they ultimately refer.
Interesting, Jamey. I concur on most of the JFK stuff except that I think the assassination was more over military direction (Vietnam) and perceptions about Cuba and other Cold War policies that Kennedy was pulling away from than from “splintering the CIA into a million pieces”. I’m pretty sure that the source on Kennedy saying that is good, but most likely he would have kept CIA intact in a second term. As you look at JFK’s first term, he was not always able to do everything he wanted. Sometimes he got just a part of what he wanted, like the limited nuclear test ban rather than a complete test ban in 1963. Also, he planned to withdraw from Vietnam by 1965, and maybe he would have, but I don’t know if maybe he might have done so on a different calendar once he got to a second term. Who knows?
I agree that the military and intelligence saw him as a threat and worked with LBJ to get him removed from office.
As for the 9/11 stuff, I don’t see any proof of a prior plan by Bush/Cheney to engineer or “let happen” the attacks. I see incompetence and distraction with other issues. This is what Richard Clarke has said. I’ve also noticed that many of the same people who think that Bush and Cheney “let the 9/11 attacks happen deliberately” also thought in 2008 that Obama would never get to the White House because they would manage to cancel the November election by trumping up another false terrorist attack, thus keeping them in perpetual power. So I take some of these theories with a huge grain of skepticism.
Robert, I think that is an overgeneralization to say that Unspeakable “doesn’t name names”
A recent edition of “Rush to Judgement”. Without Mark Lane the CIA coverup would have succeeded.
Students today need to study the researchers of Generation I. Lane. Meagher. Weisberg. I discount Thomas.
They were at ground level. Mark Lane got it right, IMO.
I’d add Howard Roffman’s Presumed Guilty, available in full on line.
Thanks for the heads up.
I may well get that, in addition to the others I read. Oswald indeed was “presumed guilty”. For the FBI to state strongly, as it did, that the American public must be convinced Oswald was the lone killer was a terrible commentary on the purpose of that agency. The “I”, at that moment, didn’t stand for “Investigation”.