- Hardcover: 453 pages
- Publisher: Knopf (September 8, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400042380
- ISBN-13: 978-1400042388
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,653,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Kennedy Assassination Tapes
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From Publishers Weekly
Holland, a contributing editor to the Nation, provides an overly exhaustive compendium of LBJ's White House conversations in the immediate aftermath of JFK's murder, the rationale and mechanics of forming the Warren Commission, and virtually every presidential conversation (however trivial) touching on the assassination thereafter. Much of Holland's book is redundant with Michael Beschloss's recent and better executed Taking Charge. Furthermore, much of the balance deals with relatively trivial matters, such as Johnson's reactions to his unflattering portrait in William Manchester's Death of a President and Johnson's monitoring (via Ramsey Clark) of the investigation of JFK's murder conducted by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison. The bulk of the tapes in question were released in 1993 and have, for the most part, already been thoroughly digested, parsed and summarized by not only Beschloss but other historians (most notably Robert Dallek in Flawed Giant). Thus Holland's volume struggles to find a raison d'être by claiming other scholars have "misrepresented or misunderstood" the tapes. For junkies who can never get too much in the way of assassination gossip, this book will prove pleasurable. Most others, however, will hesitate to wade through Holland's blizzard of frequently irrelevant detail.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
The source material used in The Kennedy Assassination Tapes is well known and has been widely used, most notably in Michael Beschloss Taking Charge (see below). But Holland presents the conversations unfiltered by narrativeedited for concision and relevanceand saves his comments for the notes. If Holland is more editor than author, hes still successful in the role. Newsday relishes that he "serves his footnotes with pepper," while recognizing that the audience might be slight for such a well-covered subject. The Kennedy Assassination Tapes, published on the 40th anniversary of the Warren Commission Report, is a welcome, if narrowly focused, appetizer for his forthcoming A Need to Know: Inside the Warren Commission, the recipient of the 2001 J. Anthony Lukas Award for works-in-progress.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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I don't share his point of view on some of the actions taken that day, but he does provide details and context to the conversations (also conveniently footnoted at the bottom of every page--you don't have to search in the back or, per the new and annoying style, guess if there's anything footnoted and then go to the back to see if it is.) But I couldn't give it four stars because, it's more like his effort at context is basically the book and the excerpts of tapes are just there to illustrate the points -he- wants to make. I was really hoping for longer conversations explained by editor's notes but not extensively reinterpreted by them. Case in point is how much he uses Lady Bird's diaries to provide context for the tapes. Many other people who were there also published memoirs but he uses hers which are, of course, favorably slanted toward LBJ's version of everything (and he was not known for rigorous adherence to facts much of the time). The book is good, it's interesting, but I still was a little disappointed that it wasn't more balanced.
I hope more historians try out this interesting way to bring past events to life.
In a curious lapse, Holland provides context, but not enough, when it comes to a conversation between LBJ and Richard Russell, then a US Senator and member of the Warren Commission.
Russell says he "does not believe" the WC findings, and LBJ concurs.
Holland provides reasonable context that Russell was not dismissing the entire effort of the WC, but only that portion pertaining to John Connally, and the bullet that struck Connally in Dealey Plaza.
But, that is a huge but...
Connally maintained he was not struck by the same bullet that struck JFK in the throat, but by a separate bullet.
A simple viewing of the Zapruder film tends to support Connally's recall. In that horrid film, JFK is seen reaching for his throat--responding likely to the neck shot. A few frames later, Connally then turns around backwards in his seat, 180 degrees or more, to ascertain what is going on. Then Connally turns nearly 180 degrees forward, but appears to be struck by a bullet. A third shot, of course, hits JFK in the head. If you do not interpret, it looks like three shots.
The problem is, if Connally is indeed accurate in his recall---as backed up by the Zapruder film---then shots from a single-shot bolt-action carbine do not explain the rapidity of shots.
Ironically, Holland then choses to quote Lady Bird (LBJ's wife), and her recollection of that terrible day. In a moving passage, Lady Bird recalls a shot, and "then there were two more sots in rapid succession."
"Rapid succession" is not a single-shot, bolt-action carbine, of the type Lee Harvey Oswald is alleged to have used.
Lady Bird's recollection matches up with John Connally's, and with Connally's wife too. BTW, Connally told the WC that the bullets were arriving so quickly that he throughout he was under fire from an "automatic" weapon. Connally told the WC'ers he was a hunter (do all Texas pols hunt?).
As in so many cases, the WC interview of Connally left much to be desired. They did not follow up on his comment about automatic weapons. Really, automatic, or semi-automatic? (I think Connally probably meant the latter).
Okay, so coming back to Russell's comment, he was saying he did not think Connally had been hit by the same bullet as JFK, then he was also saying there must have been another gunman involved.
That is the context that Max Holland leaves out. Even if Holland disagrees with Richard Russell, he should have explained that.