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JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters Paperback – October 19, 2010
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“Arguably the most important book yet written about a U.S. president … Should be required reading for all high school and college students, and anyone who is a registered voter!”—JOHN PERKINS, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman
“The best account I have read of this tragedy and its significance … But don’t take my word for it. Read this extraordinary book and reach your own conclusions.” —OLIVER STONE, director
"Jim Douglass has unraveled the story of President Kennedy’s astonishing and little-known turn toward peace, and the reasons why members of his own government felt he must be eliminated. This disturbing, enlightening, and ultimately inspiring book should be read by all Americans. It has the power to change our lives and to set us free."—MARTIN SHEEN
“JFK and the Unspeakable is an exceptional achievement. Douglass has made the strongest case so far in the JFK assassination literature as to the Who and the Why of Dallas.”—GERALD McNIGHT, author of Beach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why
“Once in a great while a book comes along that both records history and makes it. … An exciting work with the drama of a first-rate thriller.” —MARK LANE, author of Rush to Judgment
“Right now, I ask all of you—please please, read JFK and the Unspeakable! I cried all night reading it, and didn’t sleep a wink. It is a book that could make us stand up and change the world, right now. Maybe we can save the world before it blows up. Really.” (Yoko Ono)
"In JFK and the Unspeakable Jim Douglass has distilled all the best available research into a very well-documented and convincing portrait of President Kennedy's transforming turn to peace, at the cost of his life. Personally, it has made a very big impact on me. After reading it in Dallas, I was moved for the first time to visit Dealey Plaza. I urge all Americans to read this book and come to their own conclusions about why he died and why -- after fifty years -- it still matters.” (Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.)
About the Author
- Publisher : Touchstone; First Touchstone Edition (October 19, 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 560 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1439193886
- ISBN-13 : 978-1439193884
- Item Weight : 1.27 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #25,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The positives: author Douglass attempts a parallel narrative, covering both Kennedy's Whitehouse years, his (relevant) foreign and domestic policies, as well as the secondary narrative concerning Lee Harvey Oswald, his movements and the Dealey Plaza situation and its aftermath.
Kennedy's domestic policy concerning his battle with the US steel industry is something that I had never read before (it's actually mentioned when Marilyn Monroe sings Happy Birthday to President Kennedy) and is potentially pertinent in a cumulative way to the context of the assassination. JFK's foreign policy - his growing detente with the USSR and Cuba, the backdoor negotiations that he was exploring, get covered reasonably well, as does his Vietnam withdrawal policy.
The negatives concern the fact that so much of this material is covered more authoritatively elsewhere: the Vietnam policy, for example, is analysed in much detail in books like JFK and Vietnam by Major (retd) John M. Newman, or by Colonel (retd) L. Fletcher Prouty in JFK: The CIA, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy. Kennedy's overarching career is discussed with much better analysis in Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years by David Talbot. Lee Oswald, the Dealey Plaza scenario and the rest of the mythology gets a much better hearing by the likes of Anthony Summers in JFK Conspiracy ( sometimes called, Not In Your Lifetime).
Then there's how this book starts. For some reason, possibly the author's pro-Christian agenda, Douglass introduces the musings of North American Trappist monk, Thomas Merton. Whilst Merton is as entitled as anybody else to his opinions on the Kennedy case, they are totally irrelevant to the substance of this book and yet Douglass goes on and on and on about him. It got to the point that I considered stopping reading this book, so obsessed is the author with working Merton's opinions in to the text. A good editor would have simply ripped that out and advised the author to start again.
The editing, however, is another place where this book falls woefully short: this book is terribly disorganised. It has six basic chapters which make sense (such as Washington and Dallas) but within each of those chapters, the narrative is all over the place. One minute Jack Ruby is being discussed at Parkland hospital, the next we are back with a living JFK who is mourning his son's death, then we're looking at Oswald's activities in Mexico City, then it's back to JFK and his secret negotiations with Khrushchev and off the book goes again. It's so disorganised that it's hard to discern what the author really wants to tell us. Yet conversely, this book is also incredibly repetitive: Douglass will give us a direct quote and a sentence or two later, he'll repeat exactly the same quote again, like he thinks we've forgotten.
Any book on the Kennedy case cannot hope to cover everything: all authors must choose what to include and what to leave out but again, here, Douglass' judgement is questionable. While I cannot agree with another critic's one star review of this book because he dislikes the author's selective use of witnesses, I do find it strange that Douglass seems to lean heavily on the "two Oswalds" theory. Not the well-established fact of an Oswald impersonator at the shooting range or test-driving a car recklessly, in both cases drawing attention to himself (though the author does quite rightly mention these) but rather the strange stories of a second Oswald being seen leaving the Texas School Book Depository and getting in a car immediately outside, or seen leaving the back exit of the cinema whilst Oswald was being arrested and taken out the front entrance, or the story of Oswald getting on a plane in Dallas and leaving the city just after the shooting. In the author's attempt to convince the reader of an intelligence operation being conducted around Oswald, of which there most certainly was one, the author draws from some questionable sources.
Overall, I found JFK and the Unspeakable disorganised and repetitive, with some adverse choices of sources and some irrelevant Christian-oriented commentary. Yet despite these issues and despite there being many better, much more comprehensively researched books on the multiple facets of this case, author James Douglass just about manages to redeem himself and pull off a basic overview of the complexity of this murder investigation. There are many other books on the subject I would recommend before this one but neither is this one to be avoided either.
"In JFK and the Unspeakable Jim Douglass has distilled all the best available research into a very well-documented and convincing portrait of President Kennedy's transforming turn to peace, at the cost of his life. Personally, it has made a very big impact on me. After reading it in Dallas, I was moved for the first time to visit Dealey Plaza. I urge all Americans to read this book and come to their own conclusions about why he died and why--after fifty years--it still matters.”-- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
"An unfamiliar yet thoroughly convincing account of a series of creditable decisions of John F. Kennedy--at odds with his initial Cold War stance--that earned him the secret distrust and hatred of hard-liners among the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the CIA."--Daniel Ellsberg, author, Secrets: A Memoir of the Vietnam War and the Pentagon Papers
"Douglass writes with moral force, clarity, and the careful attention to detail that will make JFK and the Unspeakable a sourcebook for many years to come, for it provides us with the stubborn facts needed to rebuild a constitutional democracy within the United States."--Marcus Raskin, co-founder, Institute for Policy Studies
Marcus Raskin was JFK's top nuclear advisor.
This book proves without a shadow of a doubt that JFK was assassinated by the CIA as part of a wider conspiracy due to his planned withdrawal from Vietnam, concerted efforts to thaw the Cold War and improve relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba (to the point of establishing a secret back-channel between both himself and Khrushchev and himself and Castro, and with plans, believe it or not, for a joint moon mission with the Soviet Union).
Its nearly 3000 academic citations, interviews with crucial figures and witnesses to the JFK assassination, precise and compassionate tone, make it stand out as one of the greatest books of all time. It has been recognised as such by important figures and historians as the endorsements show. All that remains is for people to read it, and the world can finally move on from its stagnant state, in which the vast majority of the population are totally unaware of the power their President lacks, which the shadow government and the CIA commands instead, on behalf of Wall Street banks and oligarchs. Only then, should such a time occur, can any change hope to occur in this world.
Worth mentioning then that this is one of the most censored shows of all time, with RFK Jr being censored off the Charlie Rose show for bringing up the book, and Alec Baldwin losing his regular show on MSNBC entirely (!!) for filming a three hour documentary based on the book. Baldwin has been denied access to the footage filmed at the time of his dismissal. Further, much like RFK Jr.'s recent memoir "American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family" the book has received no coverage whatsoever from mainstream media, even being omitted from the best-selling charts on which it should rank. As such, it is our duty as citizens to promote this superlatively important book wherever possible. I encourage all to forward the book's endorsements from figures the whole world respects to everybody they know. Anyone who knows this book exists, and knows who people like Daniel Ellsberg and RFK Jr. are, will want to read it.
This book completed the puzzle for me and explained WHY & HOW he was assinated. He gave us information that answered most of my doubts that I have harboured for 3 decades now all those pieces of priceless information makes perfect sense to me, and I am not an easy person to convince.
On the negative side, I do agree with the other reviews that it became repetitive and jumped around a bit. I hung on because I knew it would be worthwhile in the end. Now I can't stop telling people about the book. FANTASTIC BOOK!!!!
Hindsight should be a powerful analytical tool and the threads that are pulled together here are quite convincing even without overt evidence to support the conclusions - the motives and the way history itself has developed in the past 50 years speak louder than anything. I wanted something that spread wider than just the murder itself (I read this in tandem with Gaeton Fonzi's book, The Last Investigation, which covers a lot of that material in more depth) and this book fulfilled that by drawing on much more circumstantial evidence for the apparent threat that Kennedy was evolving into for his own military-industrial establishment. And while the motives may have been circumstantial, the actions are there for all to see who are prepared to look and reason with an open mind. The great scandal of what happened in 1963 and the few years after Kennedy's untimely end, is the complete lack of authoritative and bold action by successive administrations in addressing the effective coup d'état that took place at that time, and bringing those responsible to justice and to account for their crimes.
Douglass' style is sometimes a little unstructured and repetitive, but he gets there in the end, and with a mass of evidence in one place that clearly brings the various threads together in a clear, but very scary, conclusion.
There seems to me a great parallel and connection in the events that took place back then with those that occurred during the first years of this century in that same bastion of the 'free' world - and I hope it's not another 50 years before the truth is exposed fully on both Kennedy's demise, the extremism of the state mechanisms that are implicated in that crime, and the further horrors of the past 15 years in bringing the world to further unrest. This book should be read with an open mind and one eye on current affairs - we lost a great man and a swathe of history has been the worse for his absence.