Customer Reviews: JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters
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Showing 1-10 of 23 reviews(3 star). Show all reviews
on October 27, 2009
I bought this book based on some positive comments on the radio. I felt I needed to warn readers that there are assumptions being made by the author that create a theoretical moral framework, and then the information about JFK and his assassination seem to be forced into this framework created based on letters by a monk in Kentucky. Had I know this, I probably would not have purchased the book.

I gave it three stars for the helpful new information and interviews, but I disagree with some of the author's assumptions regarding JFK. I believe that President Kennedy was brilliant, had common sense, cared about the USA and its citizens, was making great efforts to reestablish a Constitutional citizen focused government instead of a plutocracy or Corporatocracy even though it irritated some large campaign contributors. I do not believe that JFK needed a "turning" point to realize that a nuclear war was a last resort, and his non-proliferation stand, as well as, RFK's investigations may have been a larger factor in his death than reported.

I believe JFK ran for the Presidency with the belief that he could, with the backing of the American people, restore the US into a more democratic and positive nation, and a force for improving living standards, health, productivity, and peaceful innovation around the world. He already wanted to break free from the imperial world leadership that profited from deceptive banking and multi-national corporate piracy, and restore accountability and liberty to achieve and innovate on a more level playing field without sacrificing security.

I have studied the JFK/RFK/JFK Jr. assassinations, and just find it very arrogant that a Catholic monk in Kentucky is presumed by the author to have a god-like view of the world situation and proposes peace at any price as the answer to USA foreign policy, or that this is even Biblical. I take exception to many of his assumptions made regarding nuclear weapon supremacy, the Japanese, and how far we should go to trade weapons for peace. There were already huge betrayals of the American people with secret technology transfers in previous adminstrations, so "under the table" deals are not discussed which should alter the this book's point of view.

The monk is far more naive that he accuses JFK of being by believing that his letters have some sort of spiritual authority to effect the world by some back channel method, and that JFK and Khrushchev are the ultimate decision makers. He seems to hold himself up as an ambassador of peace with near zero standing, and this downgrades the overall value of the book knowing that there are a lot of assumptions being promoted by some self righteous monk who only reads an occassional newpaper, but wants to promote the ideal foreign policy.

I came away with feeling that this could have been a far better book, if the information was presented without the monk's point of view slanting or filtering the information and creating this somewhat rigid framework. There is just too much to this story to get limited by a subjective theory. If Russia had 50+ nuclear missles in Cuba ready to fire at the US in 1962, then Castro was crazier than I thought and our defenses were not adequate even in the Eisenhower administration. The US should have invaded Cuba when it was still a limited conventional threat. Now, I would expect Russia to have nuclear subs sitting in the Cuban waters regardless of what is on land.

JFK inherited the short end of the stick, from fools who have created one quagmire after another, and he should have been praised for negotiating a peaceful way out. He was murdered for greed, power, and continued lack of accountabilty by people who had already been doing the same thing around the world to control other governments. They just degraded the USA into another Bananna Republic with puppet leadership.

The value in the book is finding some new, documented support information that the reader may not be aware of, not the theological theory. I don't think there are any major new revelations. "Assassination Science" and "File on Files" are far more eye opening books, for those wanting to continue down the assassination "rabit hole", and the "JFK Assassination Encylopedia" is a very good objective resource for those looking for most assassination details.

The only thing naive about JFK was assuming to get at least minimum standard protection from the Secret Service, and the Army. Instead, like all the convenient safeguard failures on 9/11/2001; none of the Secret Service procedures were enforced in Dealey Plaza, and the Army's protective and counter sniper units were prevented from coming to Dallas. Only complete idiots continue to blame Oswald for the JFK assassination when there is more evidence that he was an FBI/CIA informant warning about the assassination, and no evidence he even touched any rifle on Nov. 22, 1963. Lesson learned: Stop believing in insane number of coincidences just to perpetuate the government fairy tales.

JFK was not perfect, but he valued human lives, and deserved far better than he got from the naive American public, and even his family. We have all been too naive.
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on December 19, 2014
This book could be classified amongst all the other conspiracy theories, and the manner in which it is written, with repetition and a somewhat rambling style, would support that. However, given the subject, remembering the times and seeing where America went following his death, there is more than a germ of truth here. Kennedy sought peace, we know he actually related well with Khrushchev from the official papers released, and we already knew he was looking to restore relations with Cuba. Since WW2 USA has not encouraged peace loving Presidents - there always has to be a cause and someone to blame for things. If Kennedy was killed because he wanted peace, and I am sure he was, the President Obama is probably lucky he has only been frozen out politically for avoiding involvement in new conflicts. The material covered in this book is 70% credible, it is just in some of the chasing down of details that the script becomes less credible and a little boring. For all that, a good read for anyone wanting to get a feel for the early 60s and a part of the remarkable and all too short Kennedy Presidency.
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on March 12, 2013
If you want to know what happened to JFK, the book will tell you all about it. Parts of the story are too uncanny to be true. Those parts are enthralling, though others could be trimmed away to great advantage.

The book intricately detailed. The author does a sublime job researching the assassination, but repeats himself far too often. To me, the repitition is what hurts the text's quality. Instead of dealing with subjects once and for all, the author mentions many of them continually throughout the entire book and ties the loose ends in a discursive manner.

Though the information in the book is important for the people to know, the author repeats himself far too often and drags on for 380 large pages when he could have finished with far less, making his argument much more forcible in the process. I can't recommend another book on the JFK assassination as this is the only one I've read, so I am inclined to recommend this one merely because the author does what he set out to do: tell you who killed JFK.
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on November 29, 2013
A recent op-ed in the Mexican paper La Jornada does a fantastic job of comparing James Douglass' conclusions about JFK's death with a speech Fidel Castro gave shortly after Nov. 22, 1963. It essentially argues that Douglass spent years doing research and conducting interviews to come up with the same answer Fidel did, which is that the assassination was basically a coup d’état orchestrated by the CIA and supported by “the vested interests of big business, the obsessions of the military and the ideological phobias of extremists."

Here's the full article (translated into English): [...]
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on February 11, 2014
Started, not finished. A little slow reading at the beginning. He seems to be putting John up on a pedestal that he may or may not deserve. Yes, JFK was going to try and do some good things. Just remember, his Daddy was a crook that bought his way into politics with illegal b ooze money. No telling how John would have turned out.
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on January 13, 2014
Jim Douglass has written one of the best books on JFKs presidency, and ultimately, its end. He has researched this more thoroughly than most before him. The first half is very insightful, and well written. Reason for not rating higher - it does get a little repetitive and also gets "lost" at the end around too many hypotheticals. He should have stayed focused on his main thesis, which he delivers convincingly in first half of the book.
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on January 5, 2014
I got this book after reading it was one of the best summaries of conspiracy evidence out there for those unfamiliar with that interpretation of the JFK assassination. I was mostly familiar with the lone gunman theory outside of having seen the movie JFK when I was in high school, so I thought I'd give it a read.


- Very thorough:
The case for conspiracy is gone over exhaustively. The author is obviously very familiar with the documents and cites a number of first-hand interviews. When he wasn't satisfied with the existing record he sought out witnesses himself and actually spoke to them, which is admirable. I don't buy all the arguments, but I do feel very thoroughly informed about the case for conspiracy and some of the points are convincing enough to at least raise doubts.

- Engagingly written:
It's a lengthy book that came close to losing me a few times by verging into tinfoil-hat territory. In spite of this I made it through to the end. Douglass's passion for the subject really comes through and it never becomes dull.


- Very biased
A common critique of JFK conspiracy theorists is that they are intellectually dishonest, cherry-picking evidence that supports conspiracy and ignoring evidence that doesn't. I'd say that critique applies to parts of this book, especially towards the end where he gets into a series of Oswald doubles running around Dallas. A striking example is a note towards the end where he acknowledges that previous editions of the book contained a section dealing with a photo that some people claimed showed Oswald at street level behind the motorcade when the shots were fired, a theory that the author was forced to give up when the man in the picture was shown to be Bill Lovelady. Finding the picture online is easy, and the resemblance to Oswald is questionable. The shape of the hairline is very different, and you'd have to be pretty biased to not have serious doubts about it. To Douglass's credit, he removed the section and acknowledged the mistake.

- Thomas Merton/Catholic connection is tenuous and forced.
The writings of Thomas Merton, a Kentucky-based Catholic monk, were an important influence on the evolution of the author's thinking about the Kennedy assassination but he devotes a disproportionate amount of space to Merton, and goes over a few of his quotes until they are threadbare, especially a prescient one where Merton points out Kennedy's actions as making him vulnerable to assassination by the powers that be.
The insertion of Merton into the text quickly becomes forced, tedious, and unnecessary.

- Very Repetitive and Too Long
I have never read a more repetitive book both in terms of individual quotes and wholesale arguments. Douglass leans on quotes very hard, sometimes repeating them verbatim as much as three times in a page or two. Emphasis is one thing, but he takes repetition to an extreme that is reminiscent of a children's book (See Jane run. Run Jane run.)
The quote repetition adds to the sense of intellectual dishonesty and cherry-picking. He leans especially hard on a speech that Kennedy gave at American University. The speech was undoubtedly important but he repeats snippets of it ad nauseam as proof of Kennedy was, at least in private, almost Jesus-like in his quest for peace and understanding. There's plenty of good evidence that can speak for itself that Kennedy repeatedly turned away from war against the advice of his cabinet. Pushing the quotes so hard comes off as a little simplistic.
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on December 11, 2012
This is a fine book no doubt. However parts of this event in history are avoided to make room for more supposition. The attitude of the American people,at that time, is avoided and in it's self is "unspeakable"
Like most people I remember my early childhood in flashes and limited detail. For instance I remember a tire swing-but don't remember where it was or anything else about it-just a blank. The JFK assassination is also remembered that way. I was old enough to understand what happened but that was all. What I remember distinctly is the celebration and feeling of great relief that this man was dead among my kin. It was like the best thing that has ever happened in America. It was decades later that I found out why. Was Kennedy hated in the south because he was a Yankee?-not really-was it because he was an Irish Catholic?-no (although some think that is reason enough)was it because of his stand on civil rights? or the steel crisis another big no.
It was because-and I heard this repeatedly that day-our president was a Communist. It was that simple. Now for the unspeakable-how and why did these God fearing country people in the middle of no where Tennessee become convinced that he had sold out the nation. We had no television until 1965 just the newspaper and the radio. Who, and why had the limited media available created this incredible effect on so many? All the people around, including my family(remember you don't choose your kin)about 100 in all, were filled with absolute joy that this "Commie" was dead.
Instead of rehashing various theories, reminding readers over and over (and over) about the President who wanted to end war and foster love and happiness among all that inhabit this small planet, explain who convinced large parts of America that our president had gone over to the other side. These were mostly apolitical and largely uneducated people who were borderline patriotic?

Who did this, how did they do it, and why? That is the "Unspeakable"
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on December 25, 2010
Lot's of little known and very interesting information on the Kennedy assassination mingled with a heaping helping of the author's personal political views. The gems of information make this well written and thoroughly annotated book worth reading for folks like me who have been seeking the truth of what actually happened that fateful day in Dallas from the beginning.
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VINE VOICEon October 7, 2013
This is a fascinating survey of many details regarding the assassination of JFK but it is annoyingly repetitious and incorporates some really off the wall things enter into his analysis. For example, Thomas Merton often is mentioned even though there is no direct relationship. There appears to be a mysterious foreshadowing of events in the predictions of Thomas Merton from the author's point of view. There is an emphasis there also because of the impact Thomas Merton had on the author. But this weakens the seriousness of the argument. There is a hypothesis but the support for that seems based primarily on secondary sources almost all of which seem to be based on individual memories of events that are clearly disputable and interpretable into other hypotheses that are contrary to that presented in this book. In short, it is interesting to hear all of the various ideas and controversies but the collection and presentation do not lead to a sense of certainty at all regarding who and why the assassination took place.
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