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The Poison Patriarch: How the Betrayals of Joseph P. Kennedy Caused the Assassination of JFK Paperback – August 9, 2016
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"A fascinating and unique account of what happened in Dallas in 1963."
Nicholas Pileggi, author of Wiseguy and Casino
"Daring: Shaw points the bony finger of recrimination at JFK's father."
James Wolcott, Vanity Fair
The New Yorker
"This book...sheds light on one of the darker questions about the assassinations."
G. Robert Blakey, counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations and coauthor of The Plot to Kill the President
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Mark Shaw is a former criminal defense lawyer who served as a legal analyst on TV. He wrote over twenty books, and is a member of an organization that reviews historical topics such as the assassinations of the 1960's. This well-written 2013 book has 280 pages, ‘Contents’, nineteen chapters, ‘Sources’, ‘Bibliography’, and ‘Index’. [The Bibliography lacks the book “Dr. Feelgood”.] Bobby Kennedy was personally informed by J. Edgar Hoover that JFK was shot (‘Prologue’). This book examines the motive for killing JFK and debunks the theory that Oswald alone did it. It examines the history of Joseph P. Kennedy as a factor in the assassination. It offers a new perspective on the causes of the murders (Chapter 1). Millions saw Oswald murdered on TV. Jack Ruby was born in Chicago and moved to Dallas to run a strip joint, the “Carousel Club” (Chapter 2). Melvin Belli was a famous personal injury lawyer, how did he become Ruby’s lawyer?
Belli claimed temporary insanity as a defense. A Yale University psychologist testified to Ruby’s brain damage (Chapter 3). [Experts testify in favor of the side that hires them.] The jury found Ruby guilty and chose the death penalty (Chapter 4). The conviction was overturned (p.36), but Ruby died before a new trial. The Warren Commission said Oswald acted alone (Chapter 5). Ruby did not have a “significant link” to organized crime (p.44). Years later the HSCA said there was a conspiracy (p.49). Chapter 6 has theories about Oswald and Ruby. In 1994 the book “Mob Lawyer” was published with a history of JFK’s past (Chapter 7). Killing JFK made Bobby powerless (p.78). RFK tried to put the mob out of business (Chapter 8). Shaw says Belli was known to those Texas lawyers (p.102). Belli was connected to Mickey Cohen (Chapter 9). The murder of Oswald was like an organized crime hit to silence an assassin and conceal the conspiracy (p.105). Chapter 10 has more facts about Mickey Cohen.
Chapter 11 lists Melvin Belli’s connections with various criminals. He often traveled to Las Vegas. Shaw discusses why Belli became Ruby’s lawyer (Chapter 12). There are varying stories. “Mob approved” (p.135). [Shaw is wrong about a model for “Perry Mason” (p.136). If anyone, it would be Earl Rogers of Los Angeles.] The insanity defense was optimal (p.140). Chapter 13 discusses Belli’s defense strategy: he refused to plea bargain. [Was that possible?] Was the case fixed (p.153)? Belli’s defense led to a guilty verdict (p.160). Portraying Ruby as mentally incompetent would destroy his credibility. A reporter confided she would break the story, then she died at home (Chapter 14). Was Belli the picked because he had secrets (p.173)? There is too much evidence to contradict the theory of a long gunman, such as the medical evidence (Chapter 15).
Richard Goodwin believes organized crime killed JFK (Chapter 16). This chapter lists many facts in support. JFK’s death ended the organized crime program (p.201). RFK said the Mob killed his brother (p.211). He was affected with remorse (Chapter 17). Would a full-scale investigation reveal truths about the Kennedy family (p.216)? Hoover did not want a conspiracy. Chapter 18 lists the Kennedy tragedies. Did RFK underestimate his enemies? Was he over-zealous (p.222)? Was his appointment a mistake (p.227)? Chapter 19 has Joseph P. Kennedy’s biography. He was dismissed as an Ambassador because of his appeasement attitude. He had other faults (pp.230-235). JFK had cordial relations with the FBI, and links to mobsters. The appointment of RFJ was seen as a betrayal (p.236). Joe betrayed people who trusted him all his life (p.243). Was the Kennedy Curse the result of their pride (p.244)? If so then Joseph Kennedy’s examples damaged his sons.
Mark Shaw wrote this book to question the defense of Jack Ruby (‘Epilogue’). He wrote the only biography of Melvin Belli. He wonders why no others questioned Belli’s involvement in the case.
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