Monday, November 18, 2013

50 Years of JFK Assassination

The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination - Lamar Waldron (Counterpoint)

 If Kennedy Had Lived  - The First and Second Terms of John F. Kennedy: an Alternate History – Jeff Greenfield (Putnam)

Top Down – A Novel of the Kennedy Assassination – Jim Lehrer (Random House)

Dallas 1963 – Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis (12 Books)

Over the course of the last fifty years there has been a cottage industry created around a steady stream of books, movies, DVDs, special edition magazines and a virtual library of  number of television specials that all purport to tell the “real” story of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. With the 50th anniversary of that event set to take place later this week there has been a noticeable uptick in new JFK assassination books; this set ranges from another spin on the assassination conspiracy, a speculative “history” of what might have been, a novelization of the event and a book not so much about the event, but focused on the location the event took place.

Lamar Waldron has been dubbed the “ultimate JFK historian” and it’s clear that he has spent a fair amount of time delving into the mountainous public record that was generated about the event. Waldron offers up some interesting revelations in the new book, The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination , including some material from recently released files. Based on the fact the a huge cache of documents are still kept under lock and key this is a story with seemingly no end and plenty of revelations still to come.

While there are countless theories as to what “really happened” Waldron makes the case that Mafia godfather Carlos Marcello had “the means, motive and opportunity” to assassinate JFK. He does a masterful job of stitching together a case against Marcello based on interviews and case record. Is this the real deal? Your guess is as good as Oliver Stone’s.

Veteran television news reporter/commentator Jeff Greenfield offer up an interesting take on the events of November 22, 1963, speculating not on who committed the crime, but on what might have happened if Kennedy had lived . While purely a speculative proposition, If Kennedy Had Lived  - The First and Second Terms of John F. Kennedy: an Alternate History, plays what if through a series of three scenarios.

Among the more interesting twists Greenfield proffers are: the United States choosing not to commit to more troops in Viet Nam, that the Civil Rights act of 1964 would not have passed and that Ronald Reagan would have been the Republican presidential candidate in 1968 in place of Richard Nixon. While many members of the mainstream media have spent plenty of time and ink to mythologize JFK, Greenfield also speculates that like many second terms, it’s likely Kennedy may have ended up mired in controversy.

Another television newsman, Jim Lehrer offers up a novel approach with Top Down, which features a Washington newsman (go figure) and a Secret Service agent trying to come to grips with the decision to remove the protective shield from the Presidential limousine.

Lehrer is an accomplished and entertaining novelist, unfortunately here the story ends up being a little thin plot wise and ends up falling short of the mark.

Veteran Texas newspapermen Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis have taken a swing at adding a new perspective on the event with their book, Dallas, 1963. The Kennedy assassination is a bit player in the story has the authors try to breakdown the city, the players and powerbrokers who populated Dallas in the time leading up to the events of 1963.

While conceptually the book offers a unique read on the event and the era, it tends to drift at times when Minutaglio and Davis’ liberal skirts starts to show and it makes it difficult to take seriously.

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