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Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK Paperback – November 1, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Mass Market Paper (November 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312929897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312929893
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #657,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Polls show that the majority of Americans doubt the Warren Commission's finding that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Two important new books may now be added to the list of conspiracy accounts. Jean Hill, the "lady in red" in the famous Zapruder film, was within ten feet of the presidential limousine and is the last surviving eyewitness to dispute the commission's verdict. Her story, written with Sloan, is absolutely spellbinding. After hearing the second gunshot, Hill saw a puff of smoke near the wooden fence at the top of the infamous grassy knoll. A shadowy figure of a man holding a rifle was barely visible to her. She saw another man, whom she later identified as Jack Ruby, run toward the "shooter." As she began to pursue Ruby, two alleged Secret Service agents stopped her and confiscated the Polaroid photographs of the motorcade a friend had taken moments before. The photos were never seen again. From then on, Hill's life became nightmarish: she endured a series of humiliating FBI interrogations, her surveillance by the FBI lasted for months, and her automobile was tampered with. Hill has never wavered in her convictions about what she saw that day and offers convincing testimony. Mortal Error , while much more technical in content, is another fascinating account of what happened in Dallas. Menninger skillfully summarizes the research findings of ballistics expert Howard Donahue, who spent 25 years reexamining Warren Commission evidence, the Zapruder film, and other materials. Donahue's startling conclusion is that the fatal headshot was accidentally fired by special agent George Hickey, who was in the car behind Kennedy's. Donahue shows where the Warren Commission went wrong in its original interpretations and answers critics who question the "pristine" bullet anomaly. Donahue initially wondered why a ballistics expert was not called upon during the initial investigation. He now believes that Robert Kennedy, among others, did not want this tragic accident to become known. Donahue's findings were published in the Baltimore Sun in 1977 but engendered no follow-up studies by government officials. While many questions remain, these two books are substantial additions to the field and both are highly recommended for most libraries.
- Gary D. Barber, SUNY at Fredonia Lib.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From AudioFile

The subject is jarring, and the theory bizarre, but John Hockenberry's assured delivery gives this reading an intellectual, newsy and calming flavor. The established voice of Hockenberry, a frequent contributor to NPR's All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation, lends a no-nonsense tone. Howard Donahue's theory that one of JFK's Secret Service men was responsible for the fatal shot and how he got to that conclusion are an intriguing detective story. Donahue's compelling ballistics evidence, which is supported with illustrations on the packaging, will be remembered as this work's enduring contribution. L.C. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The book leaves it up to the reader to decide what really happened.
Paul S. Gould
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interrested in the analysis of evidence and what it means from a non-conspiracy minded author.
M. Morast
I bought this book around the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination.
Daniel B Brennan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By M. Morast on October 16, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read many books on the subject of JFK's murder. As a former law enforcement officer, I thought this book would be good as the indication was it was a review of "evidence" not a conspiracy theory book. I was correct. A very interresting book and analysis of the evidence collected during an investigation of a murder. No yelling conspiracy, no my friends knows a guy who knows a guy, who heard something. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interrested in the analysis of evidence and what it means from a non-conspiracy minded author. Great book, easy read and very different than all the other books on the subject.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I read this book when it was first published after seeing Mr. Menninger on a local TV talk show. It was a very methodical, scholarly, and somewhat "dry" read, but absolutely fascinating. I had always had many questions about the assassination and the many supposed cover-ups/conspiracies.This book and theory I believe answers almost every point worthy of debate in a very plain spoken, matter-of-fact manner that leaves you stunned. This is the way most governments, officials, and beauracrats react. They don't lie- they don't reveal. They don't cover-up they- just aren't forthcoming. I've always thought that the truth would not be made known in my lifetime. Wouldn't it be nice if before they pass away some of the principals would come forward and heal the 30+ year old wounds in our country's psyche.
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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is the only book that explains why SEVEN witnesses near the motorcade smelled gunpowder. No one else -- conspiracy or lone assassin theorist -- has explained that, to my knowledge. And all JFK conspiracy theories run into one scarcely acknowledged buzzsaw, the complicity of Attorney General RFK, who turned down an invitation from the Warren Commission for further comment, would have been necessary. Along the same lines, the Kennedy family has always opposed all attempts to reopen the inquiry. Bonar Menninger may have provided the only explanation possible for this attitude of the Kennedy family that is INCONSISTENT with the Warren Report's findings. If Menninger and his ballistics expert, Howard Donahue are right, and I firmly believe that they are, history would have two more ironies added to it: 1) the most controversial of all the controversial aspects of the Warren Report, the single-bullet theory WAS ACTUALLY PROVEN CORRECT; and 2) the United States government, in order to spare itself embarrassment, has been working so hard for 34 years to cover up an ACCIDENTAL HOMICIDE that it has counterproductively spawned lurid theories of deadly conspiracies. Yet the government still covers up this homicide from reflex because that's what governments do. History is indeed replete with ironies like this. One problem with the Menninger/Donahue thesis - it requires the bullet fragments found on the windshield to have arrived there after the first (missed) shot. In his 1966 tome, Six Seconds in Dallas, Josiah Thompson appears to have shown that this is unlikely to have happened since it is at odds with what the driver of the limousine witnessed (Thompson and the driver weren't responding to suppositions of an accidental homicide at the time).Read more ›
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 1997
Format: Hardcover
All of the Kennedy assassination theories presented to date have had one large, fatal flaw. They have assumed that there was some complex, elaborate conspiracy to murder the President. Be it the Mafia, the CIA, Cubans or the Soviets; the common thread has always been many evil people, working together with absolute precision to mastermind and execute a brilliant assassination plot.

Mortal Error is the first Kennedy assassination book to align with the common sense truth of Murphy's Law. Sure, Lee Harvey Oswald tried to kill the President. Yes, he fired the probably fatal neck shot. But he did not fire the horrible
shot that killed the President.

According to Bonar Menninger, this shot did not come from the grassy knoll. Nor was there a massive assassination conspiracy. No evil plots, just a poor Secret Service agent trying to do his job who screwed up - mortally. There was no evil conspiracy to cover up the facts. Simply a desperate government trying to make sense of a senseless accident and trying to protect the legend and reputation of the Secret Service, the president, and a family.

Read this book and see if the truth doesn't resonate with you too.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 29, 1998
Format: Paperback
Howard Donahue having been recruited as an expert marksman to help prove Oswald fired all shots, found it impossible to accomplish within the known timeframe. Soon, when this was covered up, he found himself on a long journey to uncover what happened. He largely failed, helped by the cover up conducted by the Warren commission, and his inability to recover Kenndy's brain which would contain bullet/gun powder fragments. This book has excellent detail regarding ballistics, gun & bullet types. He proves the bullet from Oswalds gun could not have blown up Kennedy's head the way it was. He details how the FBI's gun type could - the very gun carried in the follow up car that day. He details the ensuing cover up by the FBI and names the FBI agent who shot the fatal bullet that killed Kennedy. The title refers to the horrible error done by an FBI agent in the act of defending the President. This is an excellent book and one that remains unrefuted, yet pushed to the back benches of Kennedy assination theory, perhaps simply because it's theory is so mundane and is so likely to be true.
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