2,730 of 3,408 people found the following review helpful
, October 15, 2012
This review is from: Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot (Hardcover)
I was working in downtown Washington, D.C. on November 22,1963, the day John F. Kennedy was killed. A few days later, I stood at Pennsylvania Avenue in bright November sunshine and watched an unforgettable funeral procession. A team of white horses pulled a two wheeled artillery cart carrying JKF's flag-draped casket, followed by a black, saddled but riderless horse. Boots, placed reversed, were in the stirrups. An unhurried, muffled drumbeat accompanied the inexpressible sensation of grief that pervaded the cool air. There was collective anguish for the man, of course, but also grief because it seemed our country would never be the same. What I am about to write is not a political rant. Rather, it concerns the ever-lengthening shadow that continues to be cast to this day by the unthinkable events of November 22, 1963.
I still have a copy of the Life magazine that came out just a few days after the assassination. An article in Life stated that the President had turned toward the School Book Depository, which explained the entrance wound that the Parkland doctors had discovered in his throat. Later this was corrected by the FBI, and we were told the Texas doctors were wrong about the entrance wound, it was an exit wound. By December 3rd a story was "leaked" to the press stating that J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI had already determined that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin. This information seemed to calm the distraught nation. Almost a year later, the Warren Commission Report was published. It was hailed by the mainstream media with virtually universal praise, although its supporting 26 volumes of evidence (with a supplementary FBI report) would not be published for another two months. I believe I am one of the very few people who ever read the 888 page Warren Commission Report.
The Warren Commission Report reassured Americans that there was no conspiracy, and that Jack Ruby, who had murdered Oswald, was also a lone assassin and in no way connected to organized crime. After reading the report, I explained to people how the first assassination bullet missed, how the second bullet hit Kennedy in the back, exited from his throat, and traveled on to wound Governor Connally, and how the third bullet inflicted the final fatal head wound.
But new books began to emerge from credible researchers who reported that much of the evidence in the Commission's 26 volumes of documentation is dramatically contrary to its own findings. Clearly the Warren Commission had gone to extreme measures to ignore Jack Ruby's organized crime connections. Even more disturbing, it was equally apparent that not one witness to the assassination testified that the event had taken place the way the Warren Commission described it. Not one. Especially not John and Nellie Connally. (Both of whom testified under oath that they were absolutely convinced that JFK was hit a moment before Governor Connally, and by a different shot. If this is true, there had to be at least two assassins.) Not Zapruder, who filmed the tragedy and testified (along with scores of witnesses) that a shot definitely came from the grassy knoll. Evidence accumulated, and there was a steady decline in the credibility of the Warren Commission Report between 1964 and 1976. Lyndon Johnson disowned it before he died. Driven by public entreaties, there was a new congressional inquiry, 1976 - 1978, called the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
The new governmental investigation managed to take a baby step toward reality. It determined that there had been a conspiracy that involved at least two shooters (one from the grassy knoll) and was probably orchestrated by organized crime. However, the government still could not tell us what happened, nor who was involved, and it still generally supported most of the incongruous conclusions of the Warren Commission Report. In 1993, the late Gaeton Fonzi, who spent three years as an investigator for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, lamented the failure in his book, The Last Investigation. Historians consider Fonzi's book among the preeminent and most scholarly of the six hundred or so that have been published on the Kennedy assassination. He wrote:
"Despite the clamor of the last few years, all the books, the films and the articles, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is being allowed to go quietly into history. We must not let that happen-not yet, not ever ... The conspiracy to kill the President of the United States was a conspiracy against the democratic system-and thus a conspiracy against each and every one of us ... The Government has failed us. It is outrageous that in a democratic society, after two official investigations, our Government still tells us it doesn't know what happened."
I looked forward to Bill O'Reilly's new book. At last someone would shift through the morass of information and distill a reasonable, no-spin presentation about what really happened on that catastrophic day in 1963. I was certain O'Reilly would dare to open the forbidden doors. However, much as I like Bill O'Reilly, his book is mostly a sad rework of timeworn material. He finally gets around to addressing the assassination by page 245. In his final 50 pages the legendary "no-spin" man embraces the most flagrant spin-job in American history, the Warren Commission Report. How could O'Reilly examine the assassination without scrutinizing the Commission's own published documentation and the FBI supplemental report? In them the autopsy drawings by Dr. James Humes and FBI agent James Sibert both illustrate the back wound of JFK as lower than the supposed throat exit wound. Or how could O'Reilly ignore information in the FBI report by agents Sibert and O'Neil (who were present at the autopsy) that stated Dr. Humes probed the back wound and determined the bullet had entered at a trajectory of "45 to 60 degrees" and had penetrated less than the length of his finger? Or the testimony of Secret Service agent Glen Bennett who saw the bullet strike Kennedy "about four inches down from the right shoulder"? Or the testimony of Secret Service agent Clinton Hill who examined Kennedy's body in the morgue and again described a back wound that could not possibly have exited from the President's throat because it was "about six inches below the neckline and to the right hand-side of the spinal column"?
O'Reilly and his coauthor played it safe and wrote a book that pretends the research and investigations between 1964 and 2012 simply never happened. Beyond this, what they did write about is rife with all the errors, assumptions, and grievously incompetent conclusions of the Warren Commission Report. If Mr. O'Reilly's book had been submitted to a publisher by a non-celebrity, it would have been tossed in five minutes. "Killing Kennedy" is a colossal disappointment. Worse, it endangers the truth by assisting its submergence into fabricated history. "Killing Kennedy" is a disservice to the "folks" Mr. O'Reilly is supposed to be looking out for. Save your money. Or invest it in one of the more acclaimed books on the Kennedy assassination, such as The Last Investigation by Gaeton Fonzi.
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