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The Poison Patriarch: How the Betrayals of Joseph P. Kennedy Caused the Assassination of JFK 1st Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1626360600
ISBN-10: 162636060X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Did a well-known society lawyer keep the secrets of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy? . . . Shaw takes an unusual route into the thicket of JFK conspiracy literature, focusing on the perturbing question of why the flamboyant civil attorney Melvin Belli, an associate of mobsters, would have been recruited to provide Jack Ruby’s defense following his televised shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald.” (Kirkus Reviews)

About the Author

Mark Shaw author of twenty-plus books, is a former criminal defense attorney who has served as a legal analyst for ABC, ESPN, and USA Today. He is a member of the Assassination Archives and Research Center in Washington, DC, and the Mary Ferrell Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering critical thinking on a range of historical topics, including the assassinations of the 1960s. He lives in Superior, Colorado.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; 1 edition (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 162636060X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1626360600
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The material on Ruby lawyer Melvin Belli is worth the price of admission alone. This is a compelling and well written book.

Vince Palamara
author of "Survivor's Guilt: The Secret Service and the Failure to Protect President Kennedy"
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First of all, the most poorly edited book ever, page after page with spelling errors, inconsistencies in name spellings, punctuation mistakes. I'm pretty forgiving but it did distract from the reading sometimes. Not that well-written but still interesting. I admit I only got the book because I'm from SF and grew up knowing some of the folks in the Belli office, but I was kinda young back then and didn't always know what was going on with them during the 60s. Not sure how precisely true some of the stories are but I did find the Belli-Mob sections entertaining in a Perry Mason meets Godfather with a bit of CSI (Las Vegas) thrown in kind of way, meaning more for the entertainment value than the veracity. I'm not studied in the JFK assassination or theories so I did pick up some more general facts about something that happened when I was just a baby.
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The Poison Patriarch is yet another wonderful book for those interested in the whole JFK assassination rabbit hole. Mark Shaw's writing is no snooze-fest, I pretty much carried the book with me til I finished reading it. The author theorizes that Joe Kennedy Sr.'s relationship with organized crime--gaining millions from bootlegging only to double-cross the Mafia later, & Joe's forcing his son John to appoint brother Bobby as Atty. Genl created the perfect storm for the assassination later. By "taking out" JFK, Bobby lost his brother as President, clipping his political power--removing the collossal pressure on the Mafia. Joe Sr.'s political ambitions wrought nothing but heartache for his male children. A great addition to my collection of JFK assassination tomes.
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His premise is that Joe Kennedy should have known Bobby would anger the mob and therefore he caused JFKs death. Quite a stretch. And the mob must have done it because they hated Bobby more than anyone else. At best, Shaw establishes the mob's role in cleaning up after the assassination. Belli was a shady character, but the blown up "Belli factor" really explains very little. Not much here on Ruby's background and nothing on his death. And what was the bombshell revelation regarding Candy Barr?
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I read 250 pages before the role of Joe Kennedy was even mentioned. The quotes and references were not footnoted and is basically a book of hearsay as told by Mark Shaw. I was in college at Indiana University when Kennedy was assassinated and recall one of the principle theories being that of organized crime and its involvement. For 50 years people have talked about organized crime killing the President which would make Lyndon Johnson President who would then fire Bobby Kennedy as Attorney General which would get the government off the back of mobsters. This was debated in great detail as students at I.U. The only new detail this book added was the involvement of Melvin Belli regarding his association with organized crime in his representation of Jack Ruby. So What!! The book was more about this fact than any involvement of Joe Kennedy. I failed to see the point that Shaw was trying to make. Everyone knew that Belli was a shady character and it seems that we could have stipulated to that fact and got on with John Kennedy's involvement. Ruby was going to spend eons in prison regardless of who represented him. This book added nothing that we already knew and discussed for 50 years. Don't waste your time on this.
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A page turner. Complex and diligent rendering of circumstantial case that convinces. Shaw has broken solid new ground with Melvin Belli's mob connections and legal strategy, his entry into Jack Ruby's defense, and of the depth and scope of Ruby's mob affinities and police access. The circumstantial case for Mickey Cohen and his associates adding Belli to clean up the loose ends from New Orleans' mobster Marcello's plot to kill Kennedy is convincing. Well done. I cannot believe that the Warren Commission did not follow up on the Dallas newspaper reporting that Belli had prior legal relationships with Cohen and Ruby trial Judge Brown. It was in the paper, and nobody consulted remembered.

Second, the last portion of Shaw's book compellingly contextualizes Joe Kennedy's betrayals, though despite the book's title that seemed less central than psychohistorically plausible. I am fully convinced reading this book now that there was a conspiracy behind the JFK assassination and that the mob was it. Shaw follows the theme that JFK was killed to punish RFK and the dad Joe. Strong, germane details uncovered by Shaw when he interviews Belli's past associates that Belli, the bloviating loudmouth, was a cypher about the Ruby case till his grave. Shaw is perhaps more sympathetic to the bind that Belli was in than I might be. I think Belli has a lot to answer for with his violation of human and legal ethics.

One final thought: I may have looked for more about Lee Harvey Oswald, but this book mostly does not go into his murky world. I did learn the germane fact that Oswald had proximity to the New Orleans' mobster Marcello in 1963.
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