Fifty Years Later

November 22, 2013

Today is the anniversary of one of the more tragic and still controversial events in American history: the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Skeptics are still waging a war on those who believe an organized conspiracy took place to kill our nation’s 35th president. There are many, many books on the subject, but the one I was reading recently appears to be one of the most-thorough examinations of the assassination.

Vincent Bugliosi is an attorney involved in several high-profile cases (the Manson-Tate murders most notably), but became involved in the JFK case when a mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald was staged for a London television show in 1986. Bugliosi wrote Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (New York: Norton, 2007) as a result of his research for the twenty-one-hour television show. This book is very extensive: it is more than 1,600 pages long, plus a CD with references, pictures, etc. are included with the book.

Bugliosi gives a time line of the events and makes the case (just as an attorney would) for Oswald’s guilt. He then goes on to discuss in detail why conspiracy theories, such as the Magic Bullet, the Grassy Knoll, the Mafia, CIA, Castro, etc. all are not viable scenarios to explain the events of November 22, 1963. He then takes on the theses of the leading books on all these theories—and even the skeptical looks at the theories—to give a very comprehensive view of them all.

Bugliosi is critical (but supports the conclusion) of Gerald Posner’s book Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK (New York: Random House, 1993) because he feels that Posner does what the conspiracy theorists do: picking and choosing what evidence supports their case and disregarding what does not. I have not read Posner’s book in a long time, and I don’t remember if this is the case or not, but this gives me an opportunity to reread Posner’s book and determine this for myself.

Bugliosi titled his book Reclaiming History because he wanted to take the event away from conspiracy theorists and get back to the important aspects of the event: the taking of the life of a charismatic and promising president who very well would have changed the course of history.