- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: Carroll & Graf; 2 edition (October 14, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786712422
- ISBN-13: 978-0786712427
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Man Who Knew Too Much: Hired to Kill Oswald and Prevent the Assassination of JFK 2nd Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Carroll & Graf has been in the forefront of producing books about the Kennedy assassination--of widely varying quality; it has come up with a winner this time. Russell, a freelance journalist who has written for Time and the Village Voice , has spent 17 years on this mammoth study of one of the most mysterious figures on the fringes of the assassination: Richard Case Nagell, described as the man "hired to kill Oswald and prevent the assassination of JFK." With painstaking care, Russell sets out to reconstruct the strange life of Nagell, a former member of a super-secret army intelligence unit who was wounded in battle, the sole survivor of two air crashes, a contract agent for both the CIA and the KGB at different times, and a man whose life kept intersecting with Oswald's. Russell has met Nagell on a number of occasions, corresponded with him as recently as 1990 (when he was living in a motel in California) and wonderfully captures the intriguing eccentricities of his speech, with his deliberate, almost playful, allusiveness. Nagell seems to have been utilized by both the CIA and the KGB to keep tabs on Oswald (who himself probably also worked both sides of the street) and was ultimately prodded by the Russians to head Oswald away from his role in the Dallas plot (one of at least three to kill JFK in 1963, according to Russell). If Nagell failed to dissuade Oswald, he was to kill him. At that point Nagell, bewildered and unsure who was calling the shots, lost his nerve, warned the CIA and FBI of the impending disaster, then had himself arrested (he discharged a gun harmlessly in a Texas bank a month before the president was assassinated); he spent years in jail, while lawyers wrangled over his sanity. Nagell has not been heard from for the past two years, but Russell believes he is still alive, his silence bought by a generous military pension. The author is right in suggesting that a government investigation that subpoenaed Nagell as a witness (neither the Warren Commission nor the House inquiry did) would learn a great deal about an event that continues to intrigue and baffle the world. No praise can be too high for Russell's mastery of a massive quantity of detail, for his determination to seek out primary sources and for his refusal to over-dramatize. This is a model work of historical reconstruction that should, as Norman Mailer suggests in a blurb, open up many hitherto unperceived leads in the case.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Don't expect this massive tome to provide any definitive answers to who assassinated JFK. Russell uses Richard Case Nagell, an obscure double (triple?) CIA agent who claims that the KGB hired him to kill Lee Harvey Oswald and thus prevent the assassination, as the basis of a tale of enormous conspiracy. Russell provides a veritable alphabet soup of possible conspirators, including the FBI, KGB, CIA, and OAS, and implicates the Mafia, Cubans, and Texas oilmen as well. He postulates a conspiracy that spans several continents and includes so many people with so many aliases that it is impossible to keep track of them all, even with the "cast list" of 297 names provided. Though obviously laboriously researched, this book simply offers too much to be either cohesive or credible. Purchase only where demand for conspiracy books warrants.
- Rebecca House Stankowski, Purdue Univ. Calumet Lib., Hammond, Ind.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Despite its length, this book remains very readable -- a genuine page-turner. Russell is probably the best writer (in terms of literary skill) ever to address this topic, with the exception of Carl Oglesby -- who provides a forward to this volume.
The evidence indicates that Nagell worked for American intelligence and had foreknowledge of the assassination. He certainly had Lee Harvey Oswald on his radar before November 22, 1963. We know this because Nagell somehow got hold of Oswald's military ID card, which was found in Nagell's possession in September, 1963. Jim Bundren, the officer who arrested Nagell, seems a perfectly credible witness. Bundren reports that Nagell said some pretty remarkable and chilling things which strongly presaged the assassination.
However, I advise caution in assessing the stories Richard Case Nagell told Russell in the 1970s. Nagell talked about a ring of Soviet agents who had penetrated deep into the CIA's higher echelons, and he seems to think (or to want us to think) that this ring engineered the assassination. I don't buy that bit -- not for a second.
Nagell indicated that John Paisley, the CIA officer who died so mysteriously in the 1970s, was a Soviet mole. Ridiculous.
The reader must always keep in mind that Nagell probably received a government pension when he was in contact with Dick Russell. I doubt that a guy in Nagell's position would tell the full truth to an investigative journalist. You can't put toothpaste back in the tube. If someone in the intelligence community has blurted out too much of the truth, that truth must then be hidden amidst some carefully chosen lies.
Also: Russell takes seriously Clare Petty's theory that James Jesus Angleton, the CIA's ultra-paranoid mole-hunter, was himself a Soviet mole. Petty (who worked under Angleton for a number of years) was just plain wrong about that. Frankly, Petty had become almost as paranoid as his boss. The Soviet Union fell long ago, and if Angleton were a KGB plant, I'm sure we'd have some evidence by now. Everything indicates that Jim Angleton was a genuine right-wing fanatic. (That said, Petty's accusation constitutes poetic justice, since Angleton's false accusations ruined the lives of so many people who were loyal to the US.)
There is a lot more going on in this book. Nagell is only part of the story. This book is highly, highly recommended -- but please, seek out the first edition published in 1992. You should also pick up Russell's more recent "On the Trail of the JFK Assassins."