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Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy Hardcover – May 15, 2007

3.6 out of 5 stars 355 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bugliosi, best known as Charles Manson's prosecutor, spent more than 20 years writing this defense of the Warren Commission's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the slaying of President Kennedy, but his obsession has produced a massive tome that's likely to overwhelm most readers. At times, the author seems determined to present every detail his researches revealed, even if it doesn't add to the overall picture (like a footnote on Elvis sightings). Further, while Bugliosi says even serious conspiracy theorists don't claim the FBI or Secret Service were involved, he devotes chapters to each. The book's structure—it's organized by subject, such as theories about the role of the FBI, the KGB or anti-Castro Cubans—leads to needless repetition, and, for an author who excoriates conspiracy theorists, charging them with carelessness and making wild accusations, Bugliosi is not always temperate in his language; for example, twice he makes the nonsensical claim that some Warren Commission critics "were screaming the word conspiracy before the fatal bullet had come to rest." His decision to devote twice as many pages to critiquing Oliver Stone's movie JFK as to his chapter on organized crime (identified by the chief counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassination as the likely conspirators) is a curious one, as is the choice to open the book with a dramatic re-creation of events surrounding the assassination rather than a straightforward chronology of the relevant facts. Moreover, Bugliosi does not always probe whether individuals who are the sole source for certain facts (for example, Oswald's widow, Marina) had any motive to lie. Bugliosi's voluminous endnotes are on an accompanying CD. Gerald Posner's 1993 Case Closed made most of the same points in a much more concise way. 32 pages of illus. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

This weighty book (its pages number sixteen hundred and twelve) claims to be the final word on the assassination of President Kennedy. It is as if Bugliosi, who prosecuted the Manson murders, intended to overwhelm with sheer, footnoted bulk. But in the way that others have "proved" conspiracies, Bugliosi "proves" yet again the guilt of Lee Harvey Oswald. He does this by reëxamining familiar evidence but also by dismissing preposterous theories, such as one that J. Edgar Hoover masterminded the murder to keep his job. Bugliosi steps less certainly in considering the work of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which, in 1978, concluded that J.F.K. was "probably" killed as the result of a plot. Citing a National Research Council study, Bugliosi brushes aside the committee’s acoustic evidence suggesting that four shots were fired in Dallas (a fourth shot would confirm a second gunman); he is uncomfortable with a subsequent analysis, by the British Forensic Science Society, which challenged the N.R.C. opinion. Mysteries are like that"
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1648 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (May 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393045250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393045253
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 3 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (355 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Vincent Bugliosi, prosecutor of Charles Manson, lives in Los Angeles, California. He is the author or co-author of many books, among them the #1 best-sellers Helter Skelter, And the Sea Will Tell, and Outrage; plus Four Days in November, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, No Island of Sanity, The Betrayal of America, Lullaby and Good Night, Shadow Of Cain, Till Death Us Do Part, Drugs in America, and The Phoenix Solution.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I became a fan of Vincent Bugliosi's impossibly thorough, impossibly verbose way of writing and doing work by reading his books "Helter Skelter" and "Outrage: 5 Reasons Why OJ Simpson Got Away with Murder". I adored those books as though they were my Bible. And I developed enough faith in Bugliosi's integrity through reading several other reports and books by him to develop a little saying, "If Bugliosi says it is so, then it is so". When I learned that Bugliosi was a proponent of the no-conspiracy side of the assassination I began to have my doubts about the conspiracy ideas---I never once thought that Bugliosi would be wrong in his assertions, the man does not do anything lackluster, he must be as well-informed and thorough about any such possibilities. My opinion that Bugliosi had the right ideas about Oswald's involvement began to take on a more solid form when I read in his introduction that he prosecuted Oswald in a mock-trial in London that was as close to the real thing as Oswald would get to a real trial, the defense attorneys presented as many of the conspiracy theories as they could get away with, and Bugliosi blasted all of them out of the water. He convinced 12 jurors that Oswald was guilty, and he convinced the majority of them that he acted alone. One of the pivotal moments of the book was when he addressed Oliver Stone's film "JFK" and Jim Garrison's trial of Clay Shaw, he managed to shatter something, that I held incredibly dear to me, to pieces -- but he restored something much more. In an area where I thought we would never be able to find the truth, I now know the truth. Oswald did it. Oswald acted alone. Jack Ruby killed Oswald. Ruby acted alone.Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Kindle version of this book does not include any of the exhibits (photos, etc.) which are referenced in the text! I have noticed this about a few other Kindle books. Initially I was very pleased with my Kindle, but I am now becoming somewhat disillusioned with it since the Kindle versions of at least some books do not include everything in the hard copy versions.

I have no real problem with the length of this book. It takes a lot of words to describe an event this complex. If a photo is worth a thousand words, a few photos would add considerably to the clarity of the book. The book is interesting and fairly easy to read in spite of its length.

I do not take issue with the conclusions. Clearly Oswald was the lone assassin. Clearly Oliver Stone is not the lone prevaricator related to this event.
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By nto62 on April 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
81 days is what it took me to read this over-sized, tightly-spaced, mini-fonted, 1512-page, concrete slab of a book, though this duration was unevenly distributed. Bugliosi starts his book with an extremely suspenseful countdown to the death of JFK. Minute by minute, he presents a pulse-pounding, real-time narrative that easily overshadows the reader's foreknowledge of the tragic conclusion. Were the book to stop here, it's a homerun, 5-star effort. But, it doesn't. Not by a long shot.

Next, is a thorough and highly readable biography of Oswald that perfectly complements the prior assassination narrative. Indeed, at the conclusion of this section, I was fairly certain I had stumbled upon a real gem. However, Bugliosi's ultimate intent is to completely destroy a preponderance of conspiracy theories from the nuttiest to the least implausible, and soon the laity must hunker down for a long, and often tedious, sermon.

Further aggravating the slog is Bugliosi's habit of flippantly and frequently taunting the conspiracy theorists or "buffs" as he likes to call them. He possesses less humor than he thinks and despite his feelings for some of the more outlandish theorists, his playground antics detract from what he, himself, believes a serious piece of scholarship.

Things pick up momentarily when Bugliosi rightfully dismantles Oliver Stone's horribly inaccurate and intentionally misleading film, JFK. The more serious pro-conspiracy scholars, themselves, labeled JFK, the movie, a fantasy and Stone assuredly deserves everything Bugliosi hurls at him.

Bottom-line, however, is there is nothing the author can ultimately do to save what steadily becomes a lead weight in the reader's hands.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Given the widespread distrust in government that the JFK assassination conspiracy theories have fostered, and the fundamental danger (largely unrecognized) that such distrust poses, this may be the most important book of our time. Comments in the critical reviews here range from the absurdly pointless (‘Bugliosi’s book is too long’) to the shamelessly uninformed, misinformed, and boarderline insane. I’ve not found a single coherent argument against Bulgiosi’s book that withstands fact-checking and logic. Unlike many of the critical reviewers here, I read the entire book (though not the notes on the CD). Yes, it is long, as long as it needs to be. Will it serve as an effective antidote to the national JFK conspiracy theory psychosis? I am not optimistic. I think there are far too many people who passionately want to believe that there was a conspiracy of treason, betrayal, and assassination, at the highest levels of our government. As we see in the negative reviews and comments here, facts do not matter to such people.

I will share one example that I think is particularly illustrative. Very near the end of his book Bugliosi dedicates a long chapter to Jim Garrison’s dispicable prosecution of Clay Shaw and Oliver Stone’s movie on that subject. I have the movie and, after reading that chapter, I watched the movie again. I can but wholeheartedly agree with Bugliosi’s condemnation of Garrison and Stone. However, I wish to point out a quite specific example regarding Oliver Stone. At the end of the movie, just before the credits, there is a written notice claiming that, in 1979, (I paraphrase) ‘Richard Helms testified (admitted) that Clay Shaw was associated with the CIA’.
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