JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters
 
 


or
Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Start reading JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters [Paperback]

James W. Douglass
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (471 customer reviews)

List Price: $18.00
Price: $11.58 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
You Save: $6.42 (36%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, Oct. 1? Choose One-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
‹  Return to Product Overview

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"In JFK and the Unspeakable Jim Douglass has distilled all the best available research into a very well-documented and convincing portrait of President Kennedy's transforming turn to peace, at the cost of his life. Personally, it has made a very big impact on me. After reading it in Dallas, I was moved for the first time to visit Dealey Plaza. I urge all Americans to read this book and come to their own conclusions about why he died and why -- after fifty years -- it still matters.” -- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

“Right now, I ask all of you—please please, read JFK and the Unspeakable! I cried all night reading it, and didn’t sleep a wink. It is a book that could make us stand up and change the world, right now. Maybe we can save the world before it blows up. Really” —Yoko Ono --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“A remarkable story that changed the way I view the world.”—JAMES BRADLEY, author of Flags of Our Fathers

Arguably the most important book yet written about a U.S. president … Should be required reading for all high school and college students, and anyone who is a registered voter!”—JOHN PERKINS, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman

The best account I have read of this tragedy and its significance … But don’t take my word for it. Read this extraordinary book and reach your own conclusions.” —OLIVER STONE, director

"Jim Douglass has unraveled the story of President Kennedy’s astonishing and little-known turn toward peace, and the reasons why members of his own government felt he must be eliminated. This disturbing, enlightening, and ultimately inspiring book should be read by all Americans. It has the power to change our lives and to set us free."—MARTIN SHEEN

JFK and the Unspeakable is an exceptional achievement. Douglass has made the strongest case so far in the JFK assassination literature as to the Who and the Why of Dallas.”—GERALD McNIGHT, author of Beach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why

“Once in a great while a book comes along that both records history and makes it. … An exciting work with the drama of a first-rate thriller.” —MARK LANE, author of Rush to Judgment

“Right now, I ask all of you—please please, read JFK and the Unspeakable! I cried all night reading it, and didn’t sleep a wink. It is a book that could make us stand up and change the world, right now. Maybe we can save the world before it blows up. Really.” (Yoko Ono)

"In JFK and the Unspeakable Jim Douglass has distilled all the best available research into a very well-documented and convincing portrait of President Kennedy's transforming turn to peace, at the cost of his life. Personally, it has made a very big impact on me. After reading it in Dallas, I was moved for the first time to visit Dealey Plaza. I urge all Americans to read this book and come to their own conclusions about why he died and why -- after fifty years -- it still matters.” (Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.)

About the Author

James W. Douglass is a longtime peace activist and writer whose works include The Nonviolent Coming of God and JFK and the Unspeakable.

Pete Larkin, an AudioFile Earphones Award winner, has worked in virtually all media. He was the public address announcer for the New York Mets from 1988 to 1993, served as host of WNEW-FM's highly rated "Saturday Morning Sixties" program, and has done hundreds of commercials, promos, and narrations. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


CHAPTER ONE

A Cold Warrior Turns



As Albert Einstein said, with the unleashing of the power of the atom, humanity reached a new age. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima marked a crossroads: either we would end war or war would end us. In her reflections on Hiroshima in the September 1945 issue of the Catholic Worker, Dorothy Day wrote: “Mr. Truman was jubilant. President Truman. True man; what a strange name, come to think of it. We refer to Jesus Christ as true God and true Man. Truman is a true man of his time in that he was jubilant.”1

President Truman was aboard the cruiser Augusta, returning from the Potsdam conference, when he was informed of the United States’ incineration of Hiroshima by the atomic bomb. Truman was exultant. He declared, “This is the greatest thing in history!” He went from person to person on the ship, officers and crew alike, telling them the great news like a town crier.

Dorothy Day observed: “‘Jubilant’ the newspapers said. Jubilate Deo. We have killed 318,000 Japanese.”

Seventeen years later, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, another president, John F. Kennedy, under enormous pressure, almost committed the United States to a nuclear holocaust that would have multiplied the explosive power of the Hiroshima bomb thousands of times. Kennedy’s saving grace was that unlike Truman he recognized the evil of nuclear weapons. Kennedy resisted the Joint Chiefs of Staff and most of his civilian advisers, who pressured him for a preemptive attack on Soviet missile sites in Cuba. Thanks to the sheer grace of God, to Kennedy’s resistance to his advisers, and to Nikita Khrushchev’s willingness to retreat, humanity survived the crisis.

Kennedy, however, survived it for only a little more than a year. As we shall see, because of his continuing turn from nuclear war toward a vision of peace in the thirteen months remaining to him, he was executed by the powers that be.

Two critical questions converge at Kennedy’s assassination. The first is: Why did his assassins risk exposure and a shameful downfall by covertly murdering a beloved president? The second is: Why was John Kennedy prepared to give his life for peace, when he saw death coming?

The second question may be key to the first, because there is nothing so threatening to systemic evil as those willing to stand against it regardless of the consequences. So we will try to see this story initially through the life of John Kennedy, to understand why he became so threatening to the most powerful military-economic coalition in history that its wielders of power were willing to risk everything they had in order to kill him.

In assessing the formation of John Kennedy’s character, biographers have zeroed in on his upbringing as a rich young man in a dysfunctional marriage. Seen through that lens, Kennedy was a reckless playboy from youth to death, under the abiding influence of a domineering, womanizing father and an emotionally distant, strictly Catholic mother. These half-truths miss the mark. They do not explain the later fact of President Kennedy’s steely resistance to the pressures of a military-intelligence elite focused on waging war.

Kennedy’s life was formed, first of all, by death—the hovering angel of death reaching down for his life. He suffered long periods of illness. He saw death approach repeatedly—from scarlet fever when he was two and three years old, from a succession of childhood and teen illnesses, from a chronic blood condition in boarding school, from what doctors thought was a combination of colitis and ulcers, from intestinal ailments during his years at Harvard, from osteoporosis and crippling back problems intensified by war injuries that plagued him the rest of his life, from the adrenal insufficiency of Addison’s disease2 … To family and friends, Jack Kennedy always seemed to be sick and dying.

Yet he exuded an ironic joy in life. Both the weaknesses and strengths of his character drew on his deeply held belief that death would come soon. “The point is,” he told a friend during a long talk on death, “that you’ve got to live every day like it’s your last day on earth. That’s what I’m doing.”3 From that perspective, he could indeed be reckless, as he was in sexual escapades that after his death would become a media focus on his life. He could also be courageous to the point of heroism. Death was not to be feared. As president, he often joked about his death’s approach. The angel of death was his companion. By smiling at his own death, he was free to resist others’ deaths.

John Kennedy’s World War II experience was characterized by a willingness to give his life for his friends. Two years before the Hiroshima bombing, Kennedy was a PT boat commander in the South Pacific. On the night of August 1–2, 1943, he was at the wheel of his PT 109, patrolling Blackett Strait in the Solomon Islands, a corridor of water used by Japanese destroyers. It was a moonless night. A ship suddenly broke through the black, headed for the 109. As a man forward shouted, “Ship at two o’clock!” Kennedy spun the wheel. The Japanese destroyer smashed into the 109 and cut a giant strip off its starboard side. “This is how it feels to be killed,” Kennedy thought, while being thrown through the cockpit. There was a terrific roar, as the gasoline aboard went up in flames.

The section of the boat Kennedy was on stayed afloat. He discovered four of his twelve crewmembers still on it. Two others were never seen or heard from again. Six more were scattered in the water but alive. Kennedy, who had been on the Harvard swimming team, swam through the dark to shouts, finding his badly burned engineer, McMahon. He coaxed and cajoled others not to give up, then towed McMahon a hundred yards back to the floating hulk identified by a crew member’s blinking light. All the survivors in the water reached the tilted deck and collapsed on it. They wondered how long it would take for them to be rescued by PTs from their base on Rendova Island, forty miles away.

When daylight and noon came with no rescue, the group abandoned the sinking hulk. They swam to a small, deserted island, in the midst of larger islands with Japanese soldiers. Nine of the crew held onto a two-by-six timber and kicked and paddled their way to the island. Kennedy again towed McMahon, holding a strap from McMahon’s life preserver in his teeth.

Kennedy would swim in ten-minute spurts, then pause to rest and check on McMahon. A chronicler of this episode described it from McMahon’s point of view:

“Being a sensitive person, McMahon would have found the swim unbearable if he had realized that Kennedy was hauling him through three miles or so of water with a bad back. He was miserable enough without knowing it. Floating on his back with his burned hands trailing at his sides, McMahon could see little but the sky and the flattened cone of [the volcanic island] Kolombangara. He could not see the other men, though while all of them were still together, he could hear them puffing and splashing. He could not see Kennedy but he could feel the tugs forward with each stretch of Kennedy’s shoulder muscles and could hear his labored breathing.

“McMahon tried kicking now and then but he was extremely weary. The swim seemed endless, and he doubted that it would lead to salvation. He was hungry and thirsty and fearful that they would be attacked by sharks. The awareness that he could do nothing to save himself from the currents, the sharks or the enemy oppressed him. His fate, he well knew, was at the end of a strap in Kennedy’s teeth.”4

With Kennedy and McMahon leading the way, it took the eleven men four hours to reach the little island. They staggered up the beach and ducked under trees, barely avoiding a Japanese barge that chugged by and failed to see them.

When early evening came with no sign of help, Kennedy told the crew he would swim from the island out into Ferguson Passage, a mile and a half away, where the PT boats usually patrolled after dark. He took the 109’s lantern, wrapped in a life jacket, to signal the boats. Kennedy swam for half an hour, forded a reef, then swam for another hour, reaching his intended point of interception. He treaded water, waiting in the darkness. After a while, he saw the flares of an action beyond the island of Gizo, ten miles away. The PT boats had taken a different route.

Kennedy tried to swim back to his men. He was very tired. The swift current carried him past the island, toward open water.

New Yorker writer John Hersey interviewed PT 109 crewmembers and wrote their story of survival. He described Kennedy’s hours of drifting toward almost certain death: “He thought he had never known such deep trouble, but something he did shows that unconsciously he had not given up hope. He dropped his shoes, but he held onto the heavy lantern, his symbol of contact with his fellows. He stopped trying to swim. He seemed to stop caring. His body drifted through the wet hours, and he was very cold. His mind was a jumble. A few hours before he had wanted desperately to get to the base at Rendova. Now he only wanted to get back to the little island he had left that night, but he didn’t try to get there; he just wanted to. His mind seemed to float away from his body. Darkness and time took the place of a mind in his skull. For a long time he slept, or was crazy, or floated in a chill trance.

“The currents of the Solomon Islands are queer. The tide shoves and sucks through the islands and makes the currents curl in odd patterns. It was a fateful pattern into which Jack Kennedy drifted. He drifted in it all night. His mind was blank, but his fist was tightly clenched on the kapok a...
‹  Return to Product Overview