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Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism Hardcover – May 21, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books; 1st Printing edition (May 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594031886
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594031885
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #532,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


In his book Camelot and the Cultural Revolution, Mr. Piereson has brilliantly added a new dimension to the bitter controversy that still rages over the JFK assassination: political perspective. It is much needed, if only to make some sense of the disputation over evidence that has gone on for over forty years. -- Edward Jay Epstein, author of Inquest: The Warren Commission and the Establishment of Truth and Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald

James Piereson has written an idiosyncratic, provocative, and quite brilliant book. He puts the Kennedy assasination--or, rather, the left's rewriting of history occasioned by the Kennedy assassination--at the center of liberalism's crackup in the 1960s in a way that no one, so far as I know, has done before. I'll go so far as to say this: Piereson's study will be indispensable to anyone, from now on, who seriously tries to come to grips with the last half-century of our history. -- William Kristol, Editor, The Weekly Standard

Mr. Piereson shows that the assassination of Kennedy was more than a shot heard round the world. It was a shot that blasted into the liberal Weltanschauung, bringing on the enormities of the sixties and seventies. Mr. Piereson earns the gratitude of curious people, whom he fascinates. -- William F. Buckley Jr.

From the Inside Flap

It has now been more than forty years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on the streets of Dallas on November 22, 1963. No event in the post-war era, not even the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, has cast such a long shadow over our national life. The murder of the handsome and vigorous president shocked the nation to its core, and shook the faith of many Americans in their institutions and way of life. The repercussions from that event continue to be felt down to the present day. Looking back, it is now clear that Kennedy’s death marked a historical crossroads after which point events began to move in surprising and destructive directions.

In Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism, James Piereson examines this seminal event from an entirely new and provocative point of view. Most books on the assassination take up the question as to who was really responsible for killing the President. Mr. Piereson takes it as established fact that Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald.

What needs to be explained, he argues, is the bizarre aftermath of the assassination: Why in the years after the assassination did the American Left become preoccupied with conspiratorial thinking? How and why was John F. Kennedy transformed in death into a liberal icon and a martyr for civil rights? In what way was the assassination linked to the collapse of mid-century liberalism, a doctrine which until 1963 was the reigning philosophy of the nation? In answering these questions, Piereson places great weight on the influence of Jacqueline Kennedy in shaping public memory of her husband and the meaning of his death. The Kennedy assassination, he argues, is a case study in public myth-making and the ways in which images and symbols can override fact and substance in political life.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Very well written.
And many of the liberals who had had their assumptions so badly shaken asked this very question, and began to drift toward radical, even anti-American views.
Darren O'Connor
This process is particularly evident in affirmative action which is essentially legal discrimination against the majority.
The Curmudgeon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

109 of 135 people found the following review helpful By David Thomson on August 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James Pierson convincingly argues that a deceitful left wing campaign turned John F. Kennedy's death into a martyrdom on behalf of fighting racism. This was the exact opposite of the truth. Kennedy was first, last, and foremost an opponent of Communism. He was, at best, mildly interested in racial integration. This unjust situation could not be allowed to become our number one priority. We were perceived to be in an existential fight to the death against Communist totalitarianism. We had to make sure our priorities were kept straight. A committed pro-Castro Marxist, Lee Harvey Oswald, and not a reactionary racist murdered Kennedy. Our national sins had nothing to do with it. Regrettably, however, a large majority of Americans bought into this con game perpetuated by the Communists and their fellow travelers---and some very well meaning individuals close to the assassinated president. Jacqueline Kennedy, adds the author, unwittingly did enormous damage. These efforts to distort the truth resulted in pervasive American self-hating by many members of the Democratic Party. Our nation is allegedly vile and a real threat to peace on this planet. We should be deeply ashamed of ourselves. How could we legitimately oppose Communist tyranny when the United States itself is so morally bankrupt?

Is the author exaggerating even slightly? No, he is not. The Democrats today are among our biggest obstacles in the current struggle against worldwide Islamic nihilism. They are inclined towards national suicide and have even essentially excommunicated Connecticut U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman from their ranks. You should immediately order James Pierson's book. Understanding the mindset of these self-hating Democrats is mandatory. Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism must be on your summer reading list. It is that important of a book.
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47 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Chapin on October 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are no guarantees when buying books. We often eagerly anticipate a release hoping it will be a classic but soon discover that it belongs on the ash heap of history alongside the collected works of Marx, recordings of the Back Street Boys, and every single movie featuring Madonna. Occasionally however, we unfurl a package and find that its contents widely exceed our expectations. One such work is James Piereson's Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism.

Whatever the angle or line of rumor, the one thing for certain is that a sizable plurality of Americans agree that Oswald was who he said he was...just a pawn in the game. Piereson's text dispassionately, but skillfully, refutes this thesis. In one of his strongest chapters, "Assassin," he reexamines the facts of Oswald's life. To say that his case history lacks nuance is an understatement. The man who liquidated our 35th President was a diehard Marxist and anything but a shill for the military. Oswald's acceptance of Marxism came in 1953 after he was handed a bill advocating clemency for the Rosenbergs. His allegiance to communism meant, as it does for so many angry radicals, that this alienated and troubled young man would no longer be alone.

The infamous gunman had nothing but contempt for American history and its institutions. He hated the radical right and attempted to kill segregationist, General Edwin A. Walker, six months before he trained his sights on Kennedy. Oswald went to the Soviet Union to savor the worker's paradise but found a bureaucratic nightmare instead. He returned, albeit begrudgingly, to his homeland.
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37 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A. Solin on August 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is assuredly a must read, especially for any conservative looking for ammunition against the "Left." However, it would serve equally well any person, regardless of political persuasion. What makes this book invaluable is that it accomplishes, in a mere 211 pages, to elucidate likely every key fact that is directly related to the Kennedy assassination. As a result, any "debunking" of conspiracy theories is the product of how the reader perceives the facts of the case as set forth by Piereson. He is especially effective at making use of the opinions of liberals from the '60s to bolster his point; for example, why would a big liberal like Earl Warren fabricate a report that implicated a communist in the death of Kennedy, when other liberals disregarded the facts and suspected a right-wing consipracy? In other words, a reader can apply simple logic in analyzing the facts, and conclude that Lee Harvey Oswald was almost surely the assassin.

With regard to the "liberal crackup" aspect of the book, Piereson dances around a thorough assessment of this until the end, although he peppers every chapter with references of how liberals of the day misinterpreted the national attitude as well as the facts of the case. When he puts the final nail in the coffin of New Liberalism, at book's end, the reader is thoroughly convinced. Still, the book ends on a positive note (for those not of conservative persuasion). Piereson notes that neoconservatives (Irving and William Kristol and the like) have reignited the tradition liberals abandoned in favor of a more irrational liberalism.
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