Customer Review

March 22, 2005
"The purpose of this book has been twofold. One, to educate everyday Americans that Oswald killed Kennedy and acted alone. .... And two, to expose, as never before, the conspiracy theorists and the abject worthlessness of all their allegations. I believe this book has achieved both of these goals." -- Vincent Bugliosi; Page 1461 of "Reclaiming History"


I agree 100% with the above-referenced comments made by Mr. Bugliosi.

I can remember thinking to myself many years ago....if I could choose just one person on the face of the globe whom I would want to have write an in-depth book on the JFK assassination, that one person would be Vincent T. Bugliosi.

Written over the course of a 21-year period by former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Bugliosi, "Reclaiming History: The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy" was a daunting project indeed. In 2006, the book's title was changed from "Final Verdict" to the wholly-appropriate "Reclaiming History".

This massive 1,664-page book (released on May 15, 2007) is accompanied by a CD-ROM, which contains an additional 958 pages of endnotes and another 170 pages of source notes. So the total number of pages adds up to a mind-blowing 2,792. Plus there are another 32 (unnumbered) pages of photographs and 6 more unnumbered pages of charts and diagrams.

When counting the endnotes on the CD, this mighty publication logs in at 1,535,791 total impressive stat by anyone's standards. And what makes that figure even more impressive is the fact that almost all of those 1.5-million words were written out in longhand by Mr. Bugliosi on Vincent's ever-present yellow legal pads. Incredible.

If I were being forced to come up with a very brief two-word description of this book, I think I would probably choose the words "Staggeringly Comprehensive". For example, "Reclaiming History" contains more than 10,000 source citations, including 1,557 in the first chapter alone, plus another 1,627 in the "Lee Harvey Oswald" chapter.

Mr. Bugliosi has meticulously researched, examined, and scrutinized the entire JFK assassination case for this book -- from Lee Harvey Oswald, to Jack Ruby, to J.D. Tippit, to all of the physical and circumstantial evidence, to the witnesses, to the autopsy, to the Warren Commission, to the HSCA, to the ARRB, and also to the enormous number of inaccurate conspiracy theories that have populated the landscape since 1963.

And Vince Bugliosi (who I'll refer to as "VB" many times throughout this review for the sake of brevity) has assessed this massive amount of information with his usual style of common sense, logic, thoroughness, and fairness....and has reached the conclusion (which I have fully agreed with for many years) that Lee Harvey Oswald, alone, shot and killed President Kennedy and Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.

Bugliosi has done something here that no one else has done prior to the release of "Reclaiming History" -- he has taken each major conspiracy theory (and many minor ones too) and has looked beyond just the surface allegations of conspiracy to dig deeper into them and reveal the inherent illogic, inconsistencies, and internal contradictions that exist in EVERY THEORY (without a single exception). It's a magnificent accomplishment by Bugliosi, in my opinion.

"Reclaiming History" is really akin to a "John F. Kennedy Assassination Encyclopedia", rather than a mere JFK "book". The heft and all-encompassing scope of this tome are certainly "encyclopedic" in nature, to be sure.

I get the sense that VB is having a ball as he works his way from one unsupportable conspiracy theory to the next in the second half of this book, thoroughly reducing each and every theory to a pile of dust. (And in most instances, even the dust doesn't stand a chance, as Vince blows that away as well.)

When conspiracists go about the formidable task of attempting to dismantle Mr. Bugliosi's 21 years' worth of lone assassin-favoring research, I get the feeling that those "CTers" will, in essence, be trying to put out the Great Chicago Fire with a Dixie cup full of hot water. Such meager conspiracy-rescuing attempts won't be of much use at all.

Bugliosi began writing this book shortly after he successfully "prosecuted" JFK's accused murderer during a televised Docu-Trial produced in 1986 for the Showtime cable-TV network, "On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald".

The Showtime Docu-Trial featured a real judge, a real jury from Dallas, two real lawyers battling it out in court (Bugliosi vs. famed defense attorney Gerry Spence), and real assassination-related witnesses as well, including Ruth Paine, Wesley Frazier, Marrion Baker, Cyril Wecht, Johnny Brewer, Charles Brehm, and many others.

Bugliosi believes that the '86 Docu-Trial is "the closest thing to a trial that Lee Harvey Oswald ever had or will have" (a VB quote from late 2005).

I'm a bit disappointed by the overall minimal number of photographs that appear in this massive book. The JFK assassination was the most-photographed murder in history, and I would have liked to have seen Vince augment his text here with more pictures depicting the events of November 1963. But, I guess you can't have everything. ;)

The book's first chapter (titled "Four Days In November") is a spectacular one. It runs for 317 intriguing pages and includes a comprehensive narrative of events, written in the present tense (for the most part). The ultra-detailed "Four Days" chapter has a very realistic "as it's happening" feel to it.

The first-chapter narrative proceeds chronologically, beginning at 6:30 AM (Dallas time) on the fateful morning of Friday, November 22, 1963, and continues through those shocking "four days", culminating with President Kennedy's funeral on Monday, November 25th.

The lengthy 276-page "Lee Harvey Oswald" chapter contains a superbly-written biography on President Kennedy's murderer. A more complete account of the short life of a strange young man named Lee you'll not likely find anywhere than that which exists in this book (although Jean Davison's "Oswald's Game", written in 1983, comes close).

After reading the engaging Oswald bio chapter, I felt as though I had literally been right alongside Lee Harvey Oswald during his entire twenty-four years on this planet.

As with all other parts of "Reclaiming History", the microscopic detail that exists within the Oswald chapter is remarkable, including a look at Lee's grades in various school subjects, plus a notation about a KGB report made on Oswald about his activities on May 1, 1960, wherein the KGB agents following Oswald around in Minsk (USSR) actually noted the trivial fact that Lee had purchased "200 grams of vanilla cookies" at a local bakery.

I'm surprised the agents didn't record the brand name of the confections and the color of the box. ;)

We also find out that when Lee returned to the USA from Russia, he boarded Delta Airlines flight #821 for the last leg of his excursion, from New York to Dallas, on June 14, 1962.

A worthy companion piece to this book's Oswald chapter is this VHS videotape, which contains a good Lee Harvey Oswald biography.

In addition to the ultra-detailed biographical chapter on Oswald, this book also has a pretty thorough bio section on Oswald's killer, Jack Ruby, as well. The 74-page chapter called "Ruby And The Mob" serves the dual purpose of filling in the blanks of Ruby's life and also dealing in depth with Jack's purported "Mob connections" (which are allegations that Bugliosi handily destroys).

Re. the "Single-Bullet Theory" -- Vince Bugliosi's "SBT" timeline has me a bit puzzled. He's actually got a variety of different opinions on the timing of the SBT shot (or so it seems when you read through the entire book, plus the CD's endnotes).

I, myself, believe beyond all reasonable doubt that the specific SBT point-of-impact Zapruder Film frame can be established....and that frame is almost certainly Z224 (and not "somewhere between Z frames 210 and 222", as Mr. Bugliosi says in this book on page 463).

Many things begin to happen to victim John Connally beginning at Zapruder frame #224 -- TOO many things, in my opinion, to believe that the SBT bullet passed through both Connally and JFK at any other time.

Oddly, though, Bugliosi says in an endnote that the SBT shot occurs "at Z223-Z224"; so I'm not quite sure which exact Z-Film frame Vince totally endorses, if any. (On some radio interviews in May 2007, Vince has stated that it's his belief that the SBT shot occurred "within a split-second of Z210".)

Plus, on pages 325 to 327 of the CD's endnotes, Bugliosi acknowledges the very real possibility (via Dr. John Lattimer's 1994 "lapel bulge" tests) that a single bullet could have passed through both Kennedy and Connally at Z224.

Vincent seems to be placing on the table ALL potential "SBT" possibilities throughout his immense publication. I, however, would have preferred more consistency in this book with regard to the timing of the SBT bullet strike. But Bugliosi evidently feels that the precise "impact" frame cannot be definitively established on the Zapruder Film for the SBT shot.

But even with a bit of ambiguity in his SBT timeline, at least Bugliosi knows (as do I) that a SBT frame DOES exist somewhere within Zapruder's 26-second home movie. And this bottom-line SBT belief exhibited by VB is due in large part to plain ordinary common sense....because the sum total of all the evidence in this case makes the Single-Bullet Theory a virtual certainty.

Or, to use Vincent's own words (from page 482 of this book) -- "The overwhelming evidence is that whenever Kennedy and Connally were hit, or first reacted to being hit, they were both struck by the same bullet." -- VB

And then there are also these comments made by Vince B. on pages 457 and 458:

"We can have all the confidence in the world, by an examination of the physical evidence and the utilization of common sense, that {a single bullet struck both JFK and Connally}. When you can establish the single-bullet theory by reference to evidence other than the {Zapruder} film, you necessarily know that the film itself cannot, by definition, show something else. .... Since we KNOW Kennedy and Connally were not hit by separate bullets, we know, before we even look at the film, that it CANNOT show otherwise." -- VB

The above Vince Bugliosi quote is brimming over with evidence-based common sense (with such common-sense observations flowing like water over Niagara Falls from every page of this book).

See my review on THIS WEBPAGE for more of my own thoughts regarding the Single-Bullet Theory.


UP NEXT......

A VARIETY OF VINCE BUGLIOSI QUOTES FROM "RECLAIMING HISTORY" (with a few of my own comments added as well, denoted by a "DVP" reference):

"I can assure the conspiracy theorists who have very effectively savaged {Gerald} Posner in their books that they're going to have a much, much more difficult time with me. As a trial lawyer in front of a jury and an author of true-crime books, credibility has always meant everything to me. My only master and my only mistress are the facts and objectivity. I have no others." -- VB; From the Introduction


"Waiting for the conspiracy theorists to tell the truth is a little like leaving the front-porch light on for Jimmy Hoffa." -- VB; From the Introduction


"I am unaware of any other major event in world history which has been shrouded in so much intentional misinformation as has the assassination of JFK. Nor am I aware of any event that has given rise to such an extraordinarily large number of far-fetched and conflicting theories." -- VB; From the Introduction


"In the Kennedy case, I believe the absence of a conspiracy can be proved to a virtual certainty." -- VB; Page 973


"The {Warren} Commission {quoting Arlen Specter}..."chose men of outstanding reputation, like Joe Ball of California, a leader of the California bar for many years...Similar selections were made...from New York and Chicago and Des Moines and New Orleans and Philadelphia and Washington, so that every conceivable pain was taken to select people who were totally independent, WHICH IS HARDLY THE WAY YOU SET OUT TO ORGANIZE A TRUTH-CONCEALING COMMISSION"." [Bugliosi's emphasis.] -- VB; Page 342

DVP: I couldn't agree more. And another thing that goes to this issue of the Warren Commission's credibility is the fact that the WC decided, at great cost, to publish the Commission's 26 volumes of supporting testimony and exhibits for the public to scrutinize. (The cost of printing the Warren Report and the first 1,500 copies of the 26 supporting volumes came to $608,000.)

And if Earl Warren's Commission had been engaged in a "cover-up" mission of some sort from Day 1, why on Earth would they have endorsed the release of those 26 volumes? Did the Commission WANT to be called liars and conspirators by the public in future generations?

The notion that the Warren Commission participated in one big "lie" with respect to its work, but then just went ahead and published 26 volumes of material that they certainly didn't have to publish, is just simply ridiculous.


"In {Oliver} Stone's hands, the thoroughly discredited {Jim} Garrison became a courageous, Capraesque, American patriot fighting for justice and to save the country from dark and sinister forces out to subvert our American way of life." -- VB; Page 1353



"So a murder case (the Kennedy assassination) where there is an almost unprecedented amount of evidence of guilt against the killer (Oswald) is presented to millions of moviegoers as one where there wasn't one piece of evidence at all. There oughta be a law against things like this." [All emphasis Bugliosi's.] -- VB; Page 1386


"Simple common sense tells us that the open {police motorcycle microphone} was not, as the HSCA concluded, in Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination. .... In the final analysis, the validity of the HSCA's acoustic evidence collapses under the weight of its own requirements." -- VB; Pages 203 and 217 of Endnotes


"Lest anyone still has any doubt as to the location of the large exit wound in {JFK's} head...the Zapruder film itself couldn't possibly provide better demonstrative evidence. The film proves conclusively, and beyond all doubt, where the exit wound was.

"Zapruder frame 313 and frame 328 clearly show that the large, gaping exit wound was to the RIGHT FRONT of the president's head. THE BACK OF HIS HEAD SHOWS NO SUCH LARGE WOUND AND CLEARLY IS COMPLETELY INTACT." [Bugliosi's emphasis.] -- VB; Page 410


"SEVENTEEN PATHOLOGISTS, even Dr. {Cyril} Wecht, ALL agreed that the wound to the back of the president's head was an entrance wound." -- VB; Pages 394-395


"Conspiracy theorists...are strangely silent as to what happened to {the} bullet after it entered the president's throat. .... It would be virtually impossible for a bullet entering the soft tissue of the neck at a speed of 2,000 feet per second to stop inside the neck and not exit the body." -- VB; Page 416

DVP: That excellent VB argument sounds very similar to my comments on THIS PAGE.


"The single most important discovery, and one that establishes with ABSOLUTE AND IRREFUTABLE CERTAINTY that the autopsy photographs have not been altered, is the fact that many of the photographs, when combined in pairs, produce stereoscopic images. ....

"Obviously, if the autopsy photographs are genuine and unaltered (which all the experts agree), then eyewitness descriptions of the president's wounds that contradict those photographs are not proof of alteration...but nothing more than examples of understandable, mistaken recollections, or if not that, then deliberate and outright falsehoods." -- VB; Pages 223-224 of Endnotes


"On the same day...that General {Edwin} Walker returned to Dallas {October 7, 1962}...Oswald announced...that he had move to Dallas. .... What Lee had in mind very likely was his plan to murder General Walker." -- VB; Pages 673-674


"The evidence is clear and unimpeachable -- Lee Harvey Oswald bought, owned, and handled the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle found on the sixth floor {of the Book Depository Building}. And it was THIS weapon that was used to murder John F. Kennedy." -- VB; Page 804


"If conspirators were to use a fake photograph to frame Oswald...what reason would the conspirators have for taking multiple photos? Even if it was to ensure that they at least got one good photo, after they got their good photo, why wouldn't they destroy the others?" -- VB; Page 398 of Endnotes

DVP: I've asked those same questions myself. And many theorists even go so far as to say that multiple backyard pictures were faked even though they (the conspiracy theorists purporting such insanity) readily acknowledge the fact that Marina Oswald herself took ONE "REAL" PHOTO of her husband on March 31st, 1963!

In other words, an authentic, bona fide backyard photo of Lee Harvey Oswald existed prior to 11/22/63, but the photo fakers decided to go ahead and fake additional pictures anyway....i.e., forgeries which depicted the EXACT SAME BACKYARD SCENE AS THE ONE "REAL" PHOTO!

Can the conspiracy-loving silliness GET much crazier than that?


"The whole issue of what stretcher the bullet {CE399} was found on, Connally's or some unknown person's, is a giant nonissue. Since we know that the bullet was fired from Oswald's Carcano rifle, and we know it wasn't found on Kennedy's stretcher, it had to have been found on Connally's stretcher." -- VB; Page 431 of Endnotes


"Apparently, Kennedy's assassin, instead of trying to...escape from behind the picket fence after shooting Kennedy, had much more important things to do -- mainly, climb over the fence (at which point he'd be in plain view of everyone on Elm Street) so he could beat up on that louse Gordon Arnold and take his film." -- VB; Page 888

DVP: Time for a well-earned "LOL" break!


"Perhaps the most famous of the "other" assassins are the "three tramps". The fact that there never was any evidence at all of their guilt is irrelevant to the conspiracy theorists. To the buffs, there was one big piece of incriminating evidence against the tramps: THEY WEREN'T LEE HARVEY OSWALD! And in the balmy and unhinged conspiracy universe, no evidence of guilt is stronger against someone than that he isn't Lee Harvey Oswald." -- VB; Page 929


"Once you establish and know that Oswald is guilty {of killing JFK}, as has been done, then you also NECESSARILY know that there is an answer (whether the answer is known or not) compatible with this conclusion for the endless alleged discrepancies, inconsistencies, and questions the conspiracy theorists have raised through the years about Oswald's guilt." -- VB; Page 953


"In a city {Dallas} of more than 700,000 people, what is the probability of one of them being the owner and possessor of the weapons that murdered both Kennedy and Tippit, and yet still be innocent of both murders? Aren't we talking about DNA numbers here, like one out of several billion or trillion?" -- VB; Page 964


"I can tell the readers of this book that if anyone in the future maintains to them that Oswald was just a patsy and did not kill Kennedy, that person is either unaware of the evidence against Oswald or simply a very silly person. .... Any denial of Oswald's guilt is not worthy of serious discussion." -- VB; Page 969


"The bottom line is that evidence of Oswald's innocence in the Kennedy assassination is about as rare as hundred-dollar bills on the floor of a flophouse." -- VB; Page 844



Per the "letter of the law", everyone who is accused of a crime is considered to be innocent until proven guilty....and this is just as it should be. However, even lacking the advantage of an official courtroom trial, Vincent Bugliosi, in my opinion, HAS definitely proven that Lee Harvey Oswald, alone, was guilty beyond all doubt of the two murders he was charged with in 1963.

And I also feel that any reasonable person who reads this incredible and comprehensive book will have no choice but to arrive at that very same "Bugliosi Has Proven Oswald Was JFK's Lone Assassin" conclusion.

Yes, the more rabid of JFK conspiracists are likely to be unimpressed by Mr. Bugliosi's all-encompassing body of work here. They will likely still balk and squawk about how Vince hasn't proved a darn thing and about how you can never prove there WASN'T a conspiracy.

But to any level-headed and sensible person, "Reclaiming History" represents the equivalent of Moses bringing the tablets down from the mountain. And each and every tablet says the same thing: "Oswald's Guilty and No Conspiracy".

Upon finishing this tome, it becomes even more obvious that the title of this book is, indeed, very appropriate and on target -- because Mr. Bugliosi, within these pages, has done a more than admirable job of "reclaiming history" from the JFK assassination conspiracy theorists of the world.

David Von Pein
May/June 2007
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