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Mrs. Paine's Garage: and the Murder of John F. Kennedy [Kindle Edition]

Thomas Mallon
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.95
Kindle Price: $11.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC


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Book Description

Nearly forty years have passed since Ruth Hyde Paine, a Quaker housewife in suburban Dallas, offered shelter and assistance to a young man named Lee Harvey Oswald and his Russian wife, Marina. For nine months in 1963, Mrs. Paine was so deeply involved in the Oswalds’ lives that she eventually became one of the Warren Com-
mission’s most important witnesses.

Mrs. Paine’s Garage is the tragic story of a well-intentioned woman who found Oswald the job that put him six floors above Dealey Plaza—into which, on November 22, he fired a rifle he’d kept hidden inside Mrs. Paine’s house. But this is also a tale of survival and resiliency: the story of a devout, open-hearted woman who weathered a whirlwind of investigation, suspicion, and betrayal, and who refused to allow her enmeshment in the calamity of that November to crush her own life.

Thomas Mallon gives us a disturbing account of generosity and secrets, of suppressed memories and tragic might-have-beens, of coincidences more eerie than conspiracy theory. His book is unlike any other work that has been published on the murder of President Kennedy.

Editorial Reviews Review

Ruth Paine befriended Marina Oswald and found Marina's husband, Lee Harvey, a job in the Texas State Book Depository. Thomas Mallon's Mrs. Paine's Garagerevisits the brief intersection of these three lives--what he calls a "collision of innocent intentions and unforeseen enormities." Mallon details the nine-month Paine/Oswald friendship and its rapid post-assassination disintegration. He then sketches Paine's life since (from her testimony before various congressional committees to her current low-profile residence in Florida) and summarizes Paine's place in the churning, obsessive world of conspiracy theorists with snippets of humor. (Former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison is "Elmer Gantry with subpoena power.") This extended footnote to a footnote to a tragedy, though losing focus and energy by its end, is brisk, revelatory and even-handed. It also handily dispels several seemingly ominous coincidences about the events of November 22, 1963. --H. O'Billovitch

From Publishers Weekly

In his fiction, Mallon (Henry and Clara, etc.) has looked at history's accidental tourists, ordinary citizens thrust by happenstance into the swirl of cataclysmic events. This time around, he turns a journalistic eye toward a central surviving figure in the Kennedy assassination. In 1963, Ruth Paine, now in her late 60s, was a recently separated housewife hoping to improve her Russian. As a result, she offered to shelter a Russian woman, Marina Oswald, her children while her husband, Lee Harvey, sought work. In the end, Paine, a committed Quaker, unwittingly provided Oswald a sniper's nest she helped him find employment at the Texas School Book Depository and storage space, her garage, for arguably the 20th-century's most infamous murder weapon. The views on her association with the Oswalds have run the gamut, from nave do-gooder to CIA conspirator. Here we meet up with some old faces, seen now through Paine's eyes, such as Jim Garrison, the overzealous New Orleans district attorney determined to uncover a conspiracy. Mallon follows the strange trajectory of Paine's well-intentioned life, from her first meeting with the Oswalds to her voluminous testimony before the Warren Commission to her pursuit of an estranged Marina following the events. Mallon also generates a variety of delicious "what-if" scenarios and "small-world" coincidences. There are a few brambles to hack through at the outset, awkward chronological zigzags and family histories that are tedious in spots. But these patches are soon smoothed out. While not a heavy-hitting historical tome, this may introduce some fresh air on the vast storehouse of Kennedy works. Ruth Paine's is ultimately a human story, the tale of one woman living in America.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 300 KB
  • Print Length: 211 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Group E-Books; 1st edition (May 7, 2002)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000Q9ERMM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,103 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of our lives January 21, 2002
By A Customer
A brilliant book; this has stayed with me in the weeks since I read it. I'm not an assassination buff, and if you'd asked me, I would have said I wasn't that interested in the subject. But the New Yorker piece was so good I HAD to read the book--and the book was even more remarkable. In the life of Mrs. Paine, Mallon has found the perfect vessel to explore the coincidences that haunt every life, the huge resonances one seemingly small choice--befriending a stranger, offering succor to someone in need--can have, and the unintended horrors the best-intentioned acts can wreak. That the book is so elegantly economical, and so beautifully written, makes it that much easier to see the deep story running just below the story of Mrs. Paine's life. Truly this has changed the way I think about innocence and evil.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Could Have Been...., December 1, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Either you believe in the lone gunman or you're a conspiracy follower. Current polls suggest the latter outnumber the former by about five to one. Thomas Mallon is clearly in the 'Oswald done it' camp. Sadly, the shrill tones of both sides makes discussion difficult. Insults and condescending comments are the norm.
Here we have the author's look at a woman caught up in the hoopla of the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination. There is little new here but a close look into the character of Ruth Paine and her struggle to cope as she is abused by conspiracy theorists and bothered by lone nut believers alike.
Had Mallon indexed his work, cited source material better I'd have said this was a five star book. But in the present atmosphere their omission detracts from the debate. It would be all right in a work of fiction but intolerable here.
So it is a near miss in my view: good reading, adds no real new light on anyone except Mrs. Paine herself. She comes off more sympathetic and more fascinating than I ever recall.
It's a good read, could have been much more.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting character study April 6, 2011
By Phil S.
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you've wondered where Mrs. Paine has been, and what she has been thinking since that tragic week in her life and in the life of the Country, you will be fascinated. If you are looking for some small detail to inspire new research on 11-22-63, you will enjoy this book, but you will probably consider donating it to the Library.

The writer is not out the analyze the events at Dealey Plaza, just to study the effect on one very prominent individual, a quiet, studious person of Quaker descent, who met her husband at a folk dance in 1955.

The back jacket panel states affirnatively that Lee Harvey Oswald *was* the assailant that Friday; the text states that he *was* the indivudal who plotted and attempted the assassination of General Walker, months before. In 2011, even the most casual JFK researcher is not 100% convinced of either occurence. So the "Conspiracy" side won't gain much more than a light poolside read.

One bit which jumped out at me: Oswald's note with instructions if he persihes or is away for awhile, mentions that the Red Cross can help Marina and child. Did LHO or the CIA actually *contact* said organization, prior to 11-22-63?

Disappointing lack of time-line photos of the book's subject.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
For those of us who lived through the assassination of John Kennedy and/or have lived in the Dallas metroplex, the few nuggets of linking information in this work are enlightening and result in an additional degree of closure on the whole event of John Kennedy's murder. Much of the non-substantive "fluff" that is sandwiched into latter chapters however was distracting and has the appearance of having been inserted to fill space. Mallon is a skilled writer in those areas where his focus is evident, and even with the flaws, this book was an interesting read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirks of fate July 5, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very interesting dissection and chronology of
how the weapon that killed the President in one of the greatest crimes in American history was stored at the home of a benevolent, caring person who had no clue it was there. What a horrible irony with tragic consequences, and shame for all time on Marina Oswald for never telling Ruth Paine that the rifle was in her garage. Yet another portion of the sad saga of a searing, horrible national tragedy that might have been prevented.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable February 13, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book has stayed with me a long time. I first read it four years ago and I've recently reread it. It is written in an intelligent and unassuming manner, with great insight, and its thoughtful observation and dramatic restraint portrays the tragedy of JFK's assassination in a much deeper way than narratives that are big on drama and short on observation. There are those who will say that Mallon has it wrong and that the Paines were part of a conspiracy. I will not attempt to argue one way or another here -- or at least I will not attempt to argue much; I will say that this book brings home the realization that JFK's assassination, as big as it was for the world, may have been almost tangential in the mind of the person who assassinated him; that President Kennedy may have been merely the means to very personal ends. This, of course, is hard to take. One wants there to have been damn better reasons for what happened, even though they are terrible and wrong, than the way this may have actually unfolded. This book brings the awfulness of the assassination home in a way that books filled with lists and references calling out inconsistencies in the various testimonies and hearings do not. That is not to say that those attempts are not worthwhile; but this book's approach is also worthwhile. Mallon begins with an essential, compelling point -- an unexpected visit Lee Harvey Oswald made on a weeknight to the home where his wife was staying. Mallon builds the story from that point and limits his scope to the few characters who were closest in proximity to Oswald in the last months of his life. By chance, one of these was Ruth Paine, unless you are among those who believe she was involved in a conspiracy; then you would regard her part in the story as calculated. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars How a chance meeting can change your life
Mrs. Paine's Garage tells the story of Ruth Paine and her interactions with Marina and Lee Oswald. For those who know the assassination story there is not a whole new. Read more
Published 6 months ago by C. Ellen Connally
5.0 out of 5 stars very interesting story about two families and how their lives were...
would recommend this book to any history buff or JFK addicted to assination investigation.
very well written book about this womans association with the Oswalds.
Published 7 months ago by helen blum
2.0 out of 5 stars MOVE ON DOWN THE ROAD
Pretty disappointing. Book contains a lot of filler and fluff. Was not enough good info on Ruth Paine. Pass on it.
Published 7 months ago by M. Tomory
5.0 out of 5 stars Meticulous work
This small book is meticulous about the facts - without ruling out the role that fate can play in a catastrophic event this large. Read more
Published 9 months ago by CrepeMyrtle
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Worth the Effort to Read
I have read dozens of books on the JFK assassination, and I consider myself fairly well informed on the subject. Read more
Published 9 months ago by tularosa
1.0 out of 5 stars Jim Fetzer wrote a review on-line
Among the things he points out are:

[The author's] Acknowledgements, for example, lists six persons, including Mrs. Read more
Published 12 months ago by K. O. RN
1.0 out of 5 stars Ruth Paine, Not a Saint of Irving, Texas
Ruth Paine, and estranged husband Michael, portrayed as damaged goods and even victims. That is a crock. Read more
Published on April 7, 2011 by Dr. Rob
1.0 out of 5 stars A waste of time-
As stated by a previous reviewer, this book reveals the author to have a near zero grasp on even the basic details of the JFK assassination- yet there are numerous rather mocking... Read more
Published on January 10, 2011 by Eric Lund
5.0 out of 5 stars Casting a Rare Light
It's interesting when reading interviews with intimate witnesses of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Read more
Published on August 14, 2010 by Chris Wilson
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