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Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination Hardcover – November 2, 2007


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Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination + Red Horizons: The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescus' Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption + Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee; First Edition edition (November 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566637619
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566637619
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Even those inclined to suspect a conspiracy was behind JFK's murder will likely remain unpersuaded by Pacepa's circumstantial, speculative case that the Soviet Union ordered Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate Kennedy. The author, who was head of Romania's secret security agency before defecting to the U.S. in 1978, maintains that Khrushchev plotted the assassination, only to have a change of heart, but Soviet agents were unable to deprogram Oswald. Pacepa's version of history gives the KGB months to prevent the assassination (and its potentially devastating blowback) by simply eliminating Oswald once his determination to kill Kennedy became clear. Pacepa relies heavily on the work of the Warren Commission, the House Committee on Assassinations and author Edward J. Epstein; his own experience of Romanian intelligence provides only anecdotes and what he calls an ability to recognize the Soviet fingerprint in the case. While there is reason to doubt that the former Soviet Union was fully forthcoming about Oswald's time there, this book offers no convincing Soviet motive for the assassination. (Sept. 14)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

In the Western world, Ion Mihai Pacepa is undoubtedly the person most knowledgeable about Soviet espionage. His Red Horizons is a masterful portrait of a Communist bloc country, and Programmed to Kill is a rich cornucopia of information about the KGB, the Romanian intelligence service, Soviet spycraft (the discussion of 'illegals' is exceptional) and the personalities atop the Kremlin. No previous author could have written with such authority and understanding. His analysis of Oswald must be considered one of the basic books about the Kennedy assassination. (Michael Ledeen, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of The War Against the Terror Masters)

For those who love conspiracy theories, especially those about the Kennedy assassination, this is a rich one. Fiction or non-fiction? I will let the readers judge, but Pacepa's book makes for a fantastic read. (Donald T. Critchlow, co-editor of American Conspiracies Revealed and author of The Conservative Ascendancy)

This is a fascinating and provocative book that will definitely change our understanding of one of the 20th century's most disturbing and puzzling episodes. (Vladimir Tismaneanu, University of Maryland, author of Stalinism for All Seasons: A Political History)

As in a novel of Agatha Christie, every chapter of Programmed to Kill tightens the noose around the culprit, leading to the ineluctable conclusion that the whole series of events started from the Kremlin. The story lends perfectly to a non-fictional 'whodunit' movie. (Claude Matasa, professor, University of Illinois)

General Ion Mihai Pacepa has given us a new and very different point of view of the JFK assassination, clarifying what has been the conspiracy theorists' haven in the 20th century. In the FBI we taught that 'the truth is in the details,' and the General exquisitely reveals the truth-with verifiable, consistent, meshing-together, and incontrovertible facts about the involvement of the Soviet leadership and the KGB in this tragedy from start to finish, and even afterward in covering up their malfeasance. The General's credibility—from the time of his initial debriefings and to the present—continues to ring true. He speaks the 'language of intelligence' and admirably translates it for those who lived through that time but were unaware of how to interpret what the plethora of facts really meant. A younger generation can now also profit from the General's insight to see this historic event clearly. (Wayne A. Barnes, retired Special Agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation)

General Pacepa is a former 'voice from within' that tells us how lack of expertise made possible a profoundly incorrect reading of even such clear facts. (Dorin Tudoran, editor-in-chief Democracy at Large, Washington D.C.)

It took a quarter of a century to uncover the KGB hand behind the attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II. And it took the highest ever intelligence defector from the Soviet bloc to unravel President Kennedy's assassination. General Pacepa is the only researcher into the JFK assassination who had direct knowledge of the KGB's ties to Lee Harvey Oswald, and who learned from Khrushchev himself about his deep hatred for Kennedy. Pacepa was also involved in Moscow's frenzied effort to throw the blame for Kennedy's death on the U.S. But that was not enough to answer all the questions about the assassination. It took Pacepa many years to sift through all the information he had gathered and analyze it with American eyes. His Programmed to Kill is meticulously detailed. It covers all the bases left open by government investigations and the hundreds of books published on the assassination. (Arnaud de Borchgrave, editor at large for UPI and The Washington Times, Director Transnational Threats, Center for Strategic and International Studies)

Programmed to Kill sends a wake-up call about the inherent evil of the KGB, whose former officers are now running Russia. (Nestor Ratesh, former director of Radio Free Europe's Romani)

Answered many lingering questions lying around the JFK assassination landscape. (Bernie Reeves Raleigh Metro Magazine)

Mr. Pacepa's book is valuable . . . confirms what many of us have long believed. (Joseph C. Goulden The Washington Times)

Any . . . collection interested in true crime and American history analysis needs this new survey . . . offering insights into questions left unanswered. (Midwest Book Review)

Fascinating and engrossing account, which should be required reading for the entire American intelligence community. (Justin P. Liuba Epoch Times)

A superb new paradigmatic work on the death of President Kennedy. (Stan Webber H-Net: Humanities and Social Science Reviews Online)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By David M. Dougherty VINE VOICE on August 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Although this book pulls in some unrelated items and stretches to maintain its thesis, it is at least worthy of as much consideration as ANY of the "The CIA did it" tomes. There are five points that stand out in this book & its surounding issues:

1) All assassinations in history have either been committed by a dedicated, suicidal assassin, or were the product of dumb luck. For example, no writer could have come up with a more improbable story than the murder of Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife.

2) There is no worse organization to achieve an assassination than a large, fractured governmental bureaucracy, constantly fighting turf wars and concerned with betrayal and oversight from exogenous personnel. The KGB did not qualify at the time as such an organization but the CIA did (and does today to an even greater extent.)

3) Only the PP department in the Agency (& only a few individuals within it) were severely impacted by the Bay of Pigs. Most of the ill-feelings in the Agency during the remainder of Kennedy's time as President were directed at Robert Kennedy, the inexperienced loose cannon bent on murdering Castro and who was micro-managing Agency operations to that effect.

4) The Cuban Missile Crisis eventually brought about Khruschev's fall, and as he was losing power, could readily have sought to assassinate the individual he blamed for his decline. Whether he did so and how, is central to this book.

5) For the benefit of other reviewers, it should be noted that the firing of the three shots have been reliably replicated, including the "magic bullet" shot. There remains no technical question as of this writing that those shots, although lucky, could have been made by Oswald from his putative firing point.
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55 of 68 people found the following review helpful By D. Moore on October 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have ordered the book and, having read Pacepa's Red Horizons with profound interest, eagerly await it, but I just wanted to ask a question of the Universe: why the heck is Publisher's Weekly almost always the de facto official reviewer when their views are so partisan and generally devoid of neutral information about a book's contents? My question isn't limited to this book, which after all concerns one of the most controversial topics of the previous half century, but come on, half the books I look at have these awful, tendentious Publisher's Weekly comments - generally rhapsodic approval where a book reaches conclusions consonant with a "liberal" point of view, generally sneering and dismissive if non-liberal (yes, there are more than two political flavors, Virginia). This seems to me beneath a site like Amazon. Just my opinion.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jeff R. Nyquist on June 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Did the Kremlin order a hit on President John F. Kennedy in 1962? The former chief of Communist Romania's foreign intelligence service thinks so. And he lays out his case in a recently published book with the title Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination. According to Ion Mihai Pacepa, "all Soviet-bloc espionage services were identically organized and had an identical modus operandi." Pacepa also explained that, "Soviet espionage operations ... can easily be identified by their particular patterns, of you are familiar with them."

Looking at the case of Lee Harvey Oswald, Pacepa sees a KGB pattern. In the mid-to-late 1950s the Soviet bloc intelligence services were ordered to recruit American servicemen. To this end, loose women were used as "spotters" at bars and nightclubs located near U.S. military bases in Germany and Japan. They were told to watch for U.S. servicemen sympathetic to left-liberal or Marxist ideas. Lee Harvey Oswald was not only an America serviceman stationed in Japan in 1957. He was fascinated by Marxism. As a Marine Corps radar operator Oswald also possessed clues to the flight altitude of the American U-2 spy plane. It was no accident, therefore, that the Soviet Union shot down a U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers on 1 May 1960.

It was noteworthy that Oswald seemed to live beyond his means while in Japan. He dated a hostess from one of the most expensive nightclubs, whose attentions for one night would cost a month's pay. How could he afford such a woman? The answer becomes obvious, says Pacepa, if we realize that Oswald had "Soviet spy" written all over him. When his work in Japan was finished, Oswald didn't want to be in the Marine Corps any longer.
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23 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Barnes on October 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
General Ion Mihai Pacepa has given us a new and very different point of view of the JFK assassination, clarifying what has been the conspiracy theorists' haven in the 20th century. In the FBI we taught that 'the truth is in the details,' and the General exquisitely reveals the truth-with verifiable, consistent, meshing-together, and incontrovertible facts about the involvement of the Soviet leadership and the KGB in this tragedy from start to finish, and even afterward in covering up their malfeasance. The General's credibility-from the time of his initial debriefings and to the present-continues to ring true. He speaks the 'language of intelligence' and admirably translates it for those who lived through that time but were unaware of how to interpret what the plethora of facts really meant. A younger generation can now also profit from the General's insight to see this historic event clearly.
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