22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but fell short of expecations
Perhaps I should have been alerted by the title, Head Shot, because that's what this book is about. The author, a physicist and engineer, waxes scientific to explain why the laws of physics dictate that if Kennedy's head went back and to the left from the head shot, it must mean that the shot came from the right front, ie, the Grassy Knoll. Well, to those who are well...
Published on October 19, 2010 by Ralph Cinque
31 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Was Oswald....Superman???
I have mixed emotions regarding this book. On page 180, Mr. Chambers - in discussing possible tampering with the Zapruder film - says that "matte" scenes in movies are "literally 'painted' onto the film." But they are not. They are painted onto glass and put in front of a rolling camera to be photographed and eventually mixed with the live action. Now, Mr. Chambers is...
Published on December 5, 2010 by Richard Masloski
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22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but fell short of expecations,
Chambers reviews the eye-witness testimony quite thoroughly but doesn't provide anything new. He completely demolishes the Warren Report, and he provides an interesting explanation of the workings of that jaded commission, their mindset, and the political group-think that controlled them and led them you-know-where. He also ripped Bugliosi a new one, and that chapter was extremely well done. He reviewed the body altering evidence, but again, to assassination buffs, it was old hat. But, he tread lightly over some important issues. For instance, he points out that the back shot was found to have an angle of entry of 45 to 60 degrees, but he never points out the anyone at the 6th story window of the Depository was at an angle of only 17 degrees to the motorcade. That's an important fact. And he never talked about the bullet trajectories except for the fatal head shot.
I guess I'm spoiled because I previously read JFK: Analysis of a Shooting by Orlando Martin wherein the ex-military ballastics expert anyalysed every shot, every angle, and referenced everything to the Zapruder film. That book was much meatier in comparison.
But, what bothered me about Head Shot is that Chambers seemed wishy-washy about Oswald. In his chapter on Bugliosi, he seemed to exonerate Oswald. But at the end of the book, he seemed to equivocate about Oswald. Ultimately, he says that he thinks it is "extremely unlikely" that Oswald was one of the shooters. That is not good enough. Orlando Martin, in JFK: Analysis of a Shooting, provides solid, unequivocal evidence that Oswald did not shoot anyone and could not have done so.
So Head Shot is not as good as Martin's book or Jim Douglass' JFK and the Unspeakable. But, I still give it 4 stars. I just wish that he devoted less time to the head shot and more to the other shots.
31 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Was Oswald....Superman???,
Other weaknesses in the book include way too much padding about science history. Chapter 4 is an extremely distracting, unnecessarily long look into the Piltdown Man scientific hoax that began in 1909. While I understand why the author wished to use this incident in order to describe "how science arrives at the truth" it just derails the matter at hand. Other references to science history are less detailed but also strike me as being filler and padding for an already slim volume.
Another weakness is Mr. Chamber's somewhat schizoid attitude to drawing conclusions about the murder of Kennedy. On page 230 he writes as to who possibly was behind the murder of the President - "I do not know. I must leave it to others more knowledgeable than I am to determine who killed Kennedy and why. Some historians may settle for mysteries. But scientists don't settle for mysteries."
Okay, so Mr. Chambers is completely unbiased and totally scientific in his conclusions. Yet how can he write the quote above and then on the very next page of his book hypothesize that the actual shooter from the grassy knoll used a small-caliber, frangible round with the thought in mind that he did NOT want to also hit Mrs. Kennedy if he had used a large-caliber round? According to Mr. Chambers, if Mrs. Kennedy were hit by a fragment or a penetrating bullet from the front, then "the public could never have been convinced that the fatal shot came from Oswald's rifle in the rear." How does he comes to such a conclusion when on the prior page he professes that he has no idea who or why JFK was killed? Yet he can still hypothesize about why the killer used a smaller caliber bullet?
Also disturbing: the main premise of the book is that the fatal head shot came from the grassy knoll and was a frangible bullet that exploded inside Kennedy's skull on impact. Then why does the author state on page 232 that "It is also possible that a small-caliber round hit Kennedy in the rear of the head, driving fragments into his brain." The author has gone to great lengths in this book to PROVE that the bullet that hit Kennedy in the head was fired from the front! Why then does he even admit to the possibility that Kennedy may have been hit in the head from behind? Especially since there are NO entry wounds in the photographs and x-rays of the back of Kennedy's head? Very confusing! And then this: "As many as two assassins may have fired from the depository while an additional assassin possibly fired from another location in Dealy Plaza, such as the Dal-Tex Building." This is science? This is more akin to a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat!
The book's major strengths are in dismantling the single bullet theory and addressing the fatal head shot. The author also raises much doubt as to Oswald NOT being what he said he was when in the clutch of the law - "I'm just a patsy." The single bullet theory is absurd. There is no entry wound in the back of Kennedy's neck, yet there is one in his back. This bullet did not penetrate and exit through Kennedy's chest - and even if it had, it is way too low to have also hit Connally. The "official" x-rays of Kennedy's skull are shown convincingly NOT to be his. The x-ray wounds in no way match the photographed damage to Kennedy's head. And Mr. Chambers has convinced me that the head shot was a frangible bullet that exploded on impact, thus no bullet exited Kennedy's head but instead fragmented into innumerable bits within the brain and skull. The author also convincingly argues why Kennedy's body reacted the way that it did upon receiving that last head shot. As a matter-of-fact, the best chapter is the one wherein Mr. Chambers takes on and dismantles the conclusions of the two most popular single assassin advocates: Gerald Posner and Vincent Bugliosi in their respective books CASE CLOSED and RECLAIMING HISTORY. Chambers argues extremely convincingly that Bugliosi's reasoning for the violent backward thrust of Kennedy's body upon receiving the final bullet was due to "supersonic jetting" of blood and brain or "freak instantaneous muscle spasms" is pure nonsense. If the bullet did NOT come from the front, why then did skull fragments fly backwards and land in the street behind the Kennedy limo? Anyone who looks at the Zapruder film and sees that final, devastating head shot and sees how Kennedy's body is rocketed backwards and to the left and does NOT think the shot came from the front, from the grassy knoll, is - in my estimation - simply fooling themselves. And if, as Chambers convincingly demonstrates, it was a frangible round whereas the bullets fired from behind were full metal jacketed and would NOT explode on impact, then - case closed - there were two (or more) assassins in Dealy Plaza. Different bullets and more than three shots add up to more than one assassin.
Mr. Chambers' second strongest chapter is his analysis of the acoustic evidence and his matching it against the actual Zapruder film. It is way too detailed to discuss here - but it is extremely well argued in the book. As are the chapters on the medical evidence and the ballistic examination indicating two different types of ammunition having been used which would lead to the conclusion of a conspiracy.
As to Oswald. Was he Superman? Could he have fired all of the bullets from his alleged sniper's perch in the depository - even though expert marksmen in innumerable tests have never duplicated his supposed super-speed feat with a rifle that had a scope that was off? Did he kill the President and then race down to the cafeteria and get himself a coke all in the limited time he would have had to do so? To do so he would have had to be Superman! Yet...bullets bounce off of Superman's chest. Sadly, Ruby's bullet penetrated Oswald's belly - and silenced him, forever. Gerald Posner, in his book CASE CLOSED argues that Oswald was out to make a name for himself, that he was, indeed, a lone nut craving immortality in killing the President. He writes: "Lee Harvey Oswald, driven by his own twisted and impenetrable furies, was the only assassin at Dealy Plaza on November 22, 1963. To say otherwise...is to absolve a man with blood on his hands, and to mock the president he killed." Note that one important word Mr. Posner uses above : "impenetrable." That describes something that CANNOT be penetrated. In that one contradictory sentence, Posner reveals much. Oswald was...a conundrum. He may not have been Superman, but he was a man who - in his brief life - was many things. He was a man of complete and absolute mystery, deeply involved in a covert world of espionage and enigmas. We know a little, but he remains - in Posner's precise word - "impenetrable." Mr. Chambers, in this book, points out several reasons why Oswald most likely did NOT fire a rifle that day in Dallas, including the one reason that has always troubled me. "I'm just a patsy" is NOT something a glory-hunting, name-seeking lone nut would say. It just isn't. Using the word "patsy" is, in itself, indicative of someone who knows the workings of the covert world of covert operations. It is FBI and CIA jargon - and he said it. Oswald said it - and subsequent voice analysis (not covered in this book) has shown that when he said it...he wasn't lying. And then to have Jack Ruby kill him just two days later? Come on. I smell a fish. Lots of them. And Mr. Chambers addresses some of the reasons to doubt Oswald's being the assassin, such as the paraffin test showing no nitrates on his check and Oswald's racing home for his handgun. If he was so methodical at killing Kennedy, why did he leave his handgun home? At what point did he realize that he was most likely just what he said he was - a patsy? A pawn being played in a much bigger game?
All in all, despite its flaws, Mr. Chambers has written a book that - if it does not convince you of a conspiracy in the Kennedy slaying - will at least make you think hard about it. This book will not be the last word - but it makes its overall points strongly and powerfully.
19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars incredibly detailed and well researched,
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have used a better editor.,
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book of the 21st century (so far) on the JFK conspiracy,
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An incomplete treatment of the mechanics of the "Head Shot" for a man claiming to be a physicist,
This review is from: Head Shot: The Science Behind the JFK Assassination (Paperback)According to Chambers theory, the fatal head wound was caused by a "frangible bullet" from a high velocity small caliber rifle: he claims the most likely is a 50 grain (3.24 gram) .223 round from a "Winchester 220" traveling at about 4000 fps (1220 m/s) at impact, rather than a "medium caliber lower velocity round" for example from a "Mannlicher-Carcano".
Never mind the reasoning methods that Chambers uses to arrive at such a precise conclusion, never mind that two large bullet fragments massing respectively about 40 grams and 20 grams were recovered from the limousine, thus amounting to somewhat more mass than the supposed "frangible high velocity round" and never mind that numbers like 4000 fps appear to correspond roughly to muzzle velocities, rather than to impact velocities, 90 meters downrange.
The 6.5 mm 162 grain (10.5 gram) round from the Carcano would have had a muzzle velocity on the order of 3000 fps and an impact velocity on the order of 2000 fps 90 meters downrange.
Consider some of the statements Chambers makes about the mechanics of the headshot that killed President Kennedy:
(1) That the kinetic energy of the bullet at impact was 2289 Joules.
That is close enough - I find 2399 J, although that figure certainly neglects air resistance over the bullet path, and ignores that Kennedy was sitting in a limousine moving at 8-10 mph with respect to the ground at the time of the killing shot.
(2) He assumes or implies that the initial velocity of Kennedy's head is backwards relative to the frame in which the limousine is at rest, using the Zapruder film as the main evidence.
He manages to do this by completely bypassing the two most relevant Zapruder film frames in assessing the moment of impact: Z312 and Z313, which clearly show an initial forward and downward displacement of Kennedy's head relative to the reference frame of the limousine, in addition to the spectacular appearance of the partially developed jets of blood, brain matter, and bone, that are clearly visible in frame Z313.
(3) He states that Kennedy's head likely massed on the order of 6.36 kg - no supporting evidence is given, but this number is perhaps not too far wrong.
(4) He states that the backward recoil velocity of Kennedy's head is roughly 0.54 m/s as ascertained from subsequent observed motion of the head in Zapruder film frames 313 to 323.
Given these numbers, which are Chambers own numbers, his statement, which appears on page 212-213 of "Head Shot" is quite astonishing:
"The hypothesis that the head recoils due to the jetting of blood and tissue, like a macabre rocket, requires that the ejecta, because of its low mass, travel supersonically."
Except that, Chambers makes no estimate whatsoever of the actual mass of the "ejecta", and it's clear why not. It's because he assumes that the ejecta are emerging from a purportedly very small entrance wound produced at the right front of Kennedy's head by a small caliber bullet fired from a position in front of, or at any rate, not from behind Kennedy's head.
Note his statement on p 212:
"This result is consistent with the medical reports of copious bullet fragments discovered in Kennedy's brain and with the *LACK OF EVIDENCE FOR AN EXIT WOUND OF ANY KIND ON KENNEDY'S HEAD* [my emphasis]. Therefore, the shot that caused the head recoils exhibited in frame Z313 could not have been fired from behind Kennedy by a large caliber, medium velocity military rifle like the Mannlicher-Carcano, but instead originated from a high velocity, small caliber rifle firing from Kennedy's right side."
Yet, given Chambers own numbers, which are certainly questionable, it's clear that the ejecta velocities need not be supersonic: if Kennedy's head masses 6.4 kg and the ejecta mass 0.64 kg, then the ejecta would require an average velocity of only 5.4 m/s in the forward direction in order to cancel the backward momentum of the head (these numbers need to be corrected by 10% or so, since the 0.64 kg of ejecta should be subtracted from the 6.4 kg mass of the head).
Now, 5.4 m/s is hardly supersonic, in fact it is about 12 mph, so most of the ejecta would have been moving only slightly faster than the limousine.
Is it conceivable that a total of as much of 0.64 kg of blood, brain matter and bone were ejected from Kennedy's head?
To me it is. An average mass for the human brain is about 1500 grams. So the above number implies that just a little more than one third of the mass of Kennedy's brain and skull was ejected from the front of his head.
Moreover, the kinetic energy of such ejecta would not be large in comparison to the total energy of the incoming bullet, I calculate only about 8 J . So the collision would still be highly inelastic with most of the energy being dissipated as heat in Kennedy's brain, and in fragmenting and heating the bullet.
Yet Chambers dismisses this possibility out of hand by asserting that the ejecta mass is very small.
He appears to proceed from the assumption that there was no large (entrance/exit) wound on the front of Kennedy's head, a theory which is contradicted by facts: there did actually exist a large wound on the right front of Kennedy's head. Ample testimony and photographic evidence exists to support that assertion.
He also appears to ignore the evidence of the Zapruder film from frames Z312-313, that the initial motion of Kennedy's head is slightly down and forward relative to the car, consistent with a shot from behind, if some time elapsed between these two frames during which Kennedy's skull had not yet been breached, and significant material was ejected forward. Before material was ejected forward, a backwards recoil due to such a mechanism would have been impossible, of course.
17 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More of a discourse on scientific method than a solution to a puzzle,
Chambers comes to a realistic and defensible conclusion--that Kennedy may have been killed by a conspiracy--partly by ignoring or dismissing video animations of the 'single bullet theory' which appear to show that it is plausible, and by relying on syllogistic reasoning such as 'Oswald's sight was misaligned so Oswald must have used his sight'. He implies that 'since everyone knows Aristotle was wrong no one needs to read Aristotle's Physics' is an argument for saying that Warren Commission critics are entitled not to read the Warren Commission. Chambers also fillets Zapruder film critics quite well, to my mind.
There are real gems in this book, both of a factual and a critical nature. Having read a huge number of books on the assassination (and concluded that Oswald probably did it) I was surprised to note that Kennedy's body arrived in an ambulance at Bethesda for its autopsy, and not in the escorted coffin. I can't recall other authors mentioning the point as though canonical, and would have welcomed longer notes (which I know are precluded by the format). Chambers also makes a mature and interesting point about the pieces of bone found in Dealey Plaza, after Kennedy left, and where they came from. He builds but does not make a persuasive case that the Kennedy autopsy was not only botched but manipulated, though he has a tendency to just conclude things like 'the x-rays are not of Kennedy's head' and leave the matter as fixed. It's a practical engineering scientist's tic, I think--'this wire should not lead here, end of story', but not disgraceful. I was also struck by his depiction of the pressure of time and resources that the Warren Commission laboured under, and the temptations to which some of the investigators gave in.
A large part of this book is diversion, in the sense of narrative flow. Chambers traces key moments in the history of science, which he clearly loves, as a way of illustrating what science is--in fact, the effort takes up at least one chapter and, really, a few more if all the sections were compounded. The effort is interesting, though modern research on the trial of Gallileo tends to dispute its importance. Chambers really knows his science and the kindle's speech facility took me away when reading to a sense of the author's passion for his subject.
However, this book does not 'solve' the assassination. I was not in the least convinced by Chamber's treatment of the dictabelt tape, nor of his oversight of the steam pipes in the grassy knoll area, nor his reluctance to engage with the story of either Oswald or Tippitt. However, I more or less traditionally read one JFK murder book a year, and this is one of the best written- and, to be fair, most judicious--in a crowded field full of much worse works. It makes for a good read. No one, as far as I am concerned, can prove what happened unless new film, new evidence, or a confession emerges in the absence of time machines! If you buy on kindle, you will be pleasantly diverted, intrigued, and probably educated--but the crime will not be solved.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Better JFK Assasination Books.,
3.0 out of 5 stars A physics lesson wrapped in a conspiracy,
5.0 out of 5 stars Debunks Zapruder film debunkers.,
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Head Shot: The Science Behind the JFK Assassination by G. Paul Chambers (Paperback - March 27, 2012)