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Anthony Summers

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About Anthony Summers

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  1. Tony Summers, Not in Your Lifetime

    David Andrews refers without offering any detail to my "kowtowing" 9/11 book. I don't recall having kowtowed to anyone, and I think the CIA would be amused by the suggestion that I did so in my 9/11 book. I'd also be surprised were anyone to say, with evidence, that I have ever knowingly - or even unknowingly - made "propagandistic" statements. Without wanting anyone to spend money on the basis of Mr. Andrews' calumnies, I would refer readers to my 9/11 book The Eleventh Day and - I guess - to the 2013 edition of Not In Your Lifetime.
  2. RFK assassination program on BBC2, Nov. 20

    I've been travelling, and was unable to catch the programme. I've seen the Guardian, though. This seems on its face to be an extremely thin story. Photographs and photograph recognition are infamously unreliable, especially coming from witnesses so long after an event. That does not mean these fellows were not in the Ambassador on the night - though I would have thought that's the last place such officers would have allowed themselves to be seen and photographed - but I'm surprised (at least on the basis of what I read in the Guardian) that the BBC would have judged the story worth running.
  3. Historians, Journalists and Political Conspiracies

    I don't much like the description "investigative journalist" - it's become debased by overuse and its usurpation by people who couldn't investigate their way out of a paper bag. As for me, I think I simply felt the stories I was covering - while working for the BBC - often deserved more work and digging than time and budgets allowed. As Senior Film Producer in the BBC Current Affairs Group, I worked with colleagues to encourage that sort of project. Then I left to write my first book, on the disappearance of the Romanovs in 1918, and before I knew it was being described as an investigative journalist. But everyone in journalism should strive to investigate and probe below the surface of the story. If they don't, in my book they're not journalists at all. In function, the historian essentially works with what's there in print already or what he or she finds in manuscript form. Unlike journalists, they tend to seek out living witnesses far less often - and in my experience then often proceed to carp at "journalists" who do go out and do "live" research and - perish the thought! - come up with something the historians had missed. One U.S. historian had the gall to say (in connection with one of my books), "If it's not in the files, it didn't happen." The Kennedy assassination is a special case, I think. At first, to its shame, the U.S. media simply trusted the establishment and did virtually nothing to probe into the case. Lazy from the outset, and later gullible and passive. Frankly, they've not done much even since the evidence for "lone gunman Oswald" became evidently fragile. Why? So ridiculous were many of the early "critics", so bizarre was the Garrison circus in New Orleans, that many perfectly honourable reporters shied away from what looked like a quagmire for reputations. So did I - until asked to make a BBC documentary about the work of the House Assassinations Committee.
  4. I don't much like the description "investigative journalist" - it's become debased by overuse and its usurpation by people who couldn't investigate their way out of a paper bag. As for me, I think I simply felt the stories I was covering - while working for the BBC - often deserved more work and digging than time and budgets allowed. As Senior Film Producer in the BBC Current Affairs Group, I worked with colleagues to encourage that sort of project. Then I left to write my first book, on the disappearance of the Romanovs in 1918, and before I knew it was being described as an investigative journalist. But everyone in journalism should strive to investigate and probe below the surface of the story. If they don't, in my book they're not journalists at all. Without intending to be facile, a journalist is a journalist - writing for publication in a newspaper, magazine, or perhaps a book. Or, of course, reporting as a broadcaster. A historian, by contrast, is by definition an academic - who may or may not write for publication. In function, the historian essentially works with what's there in print already or what he or she finds in manuscript form. Unlike journalists, they tend to seek out living witnesses far less often - and in my experience then often proceed to carp at "journalists" who do go out and do "live" research and - perish the thought! - come up with something the historians had missed. One U.S. historian had the gall to say (in connection with one of my books), "If it's not in the files, it didn't happen." Either I come up with a subject and persuade a publisher to give me the advance necessary for the research, or - as has happened - a publisher has the idea and asks me if I'm interested in doing a given book. Yes, one sometimes wonders if one is in some degree of danger or, alternatively, retribution from people with power and influence. Sometimes there is even evidence that there is some danger. But - and this was true of Woodward and Bernstein when they were working on Watergate - any decent journalist must just shrug, take reasonable precautions, and get on with it. There's no point in being in this business if you're going to be fearful and look over your shoulder all the time. "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen...." etc. I have not often thought the fact that I tackle "controversial " subjects has damaged my career. Rather the reverse, in the sense that controversy sells books - at least, so goes my perennial hope and that of my publishers. Have I come under pressure to leave a subject alone? Not exactly. During my work on the Kennedy assassination I was physically threatened by some renegade policemen who - I later discovered - were under investigation for being involved in Mafia boss Carlos Marcello's rackets. Otherwise, over the years, there have just been rumbles and grumbles. The Kennedy assassination is a special case, I think. At first, to its shame, the U.S. media simply trusted the establishment and did virtually nothing to probe into the case. Lazy from the outset, and later gullible and passive. Frankly, they've not done much even since the evidence for "lone gunman Oswald" became evidently fragile. Why? So ridiculous were many of the early "critics", so bizarre was the Garrison circus in New Orleans, that many perfectly honourable reporters shied away from what looked like a quagmire for reputations. So did I - until asked to make a BBC documentary about the work of the House Assassinations Committee. I spend weeks or months building a huge chronology and reading everything worth reading that I can lay my hands on. Then I start interviewing - usually hundreds of people. There are a number of reasons that may lead one to believe or not believe an interviewee. Sometimes those who seem the most credible turn out to liars, and vice versa. I like to have two sources or more for a fact or assertion - but sometimes one is not that lucky. Then you have to go with your own judgement in the context of all the other related information and the nature of the interviewee. I always let the reader know what my sources are - readers deserve that. How do I get hold of documents? Dozens of ways - the Freedom of Infromation Act, or its equivalent in countries other than the United States, holdings of individuals' personal papers, court records. In short, anywhere.
  5. An interview with Anthony Summers

    I don't much like the description "investigative journalist" - it's become debased by overuse and its usurpation by people who couldn't investigate their way out of a paper bag. As for me, I think I simply felt the stories I was covering - while working for the BBC - often deserved more work and digging than time and budgets allowed. As Senior Film Producer in the BBC Current Affairs Group, I worked with colleagues to encourage that sort of project. Then I left to write my first book, on the disappearance of the Romanovs in 1918, and before I knew it was being described as an investigative journalist. But everyone in journalism should strive to investigate and probe below the surface of the story. If they don't, in my book they're not journalists at all. Without intending to be facile, a journalist is a journalist - writing for publication in a newspaper, magazine, or perhaps a book. Or, of course, reporting as a broadcaster. A historian, by contrast, is by definition an academic - who may or may not write for publication. In function, the historian essentially works with what's there in print already or what he or she finds in manuscript form. Unlike journalists, they tend to seek out living witnesses far less often - and in my experience then often proceed to carp at "journalists" who do go out and do "live" research and - perish the thought! - come up with something the historians had missed. One U.S. historian had the gall to say (in connection with one of my books), "If it's not in the files, it didn't happen." Either I come up with a subject and persuade a publisher to give me the advance necessary for the research, or - as has happened - a publisher has the idea and asks me if I'm interested in doing a given book. Yes, one sometimes wonders if one is in some degree of danger or, alternatively, retribution from people with power and influence. Sometimes there is even evidence that there is some danger. But - and this was true of Woodward and Bernstein when they were working on Watergate - any decent journalist must just shrug, take reasonable precautions, and get on with it. There's no point in being in this business if you're going to be fearful and look over your shoulder all the time. "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen...." etc. I have not often thought the fact that I tackle "controversial " subjects has damaged my career. Rather the reverse, in the sense that controversy sells books - at least, so goes my perennial hope and that of my publishers. Have I come under pressure to leave a subject alone? Not exactly. During my work on the Kennedy assassination I was physically threatened by some renegade policemen who - I later discovered - were under investigation for being involved in Mafia boss Carlos Marcello's rackets. Otherwise, over the years, there have just been rumbles and grumbles. The Kennedy assassination is a special case, I think. At first, to its shame, the U.S. media simply trusted the establishment and did virtually nothing to probe into the case. Lazy from the outset, and later gullible and passive. Frankly, they've not done much even since the evidence for "lone gunman Oswald" became evidently fragile. Why? So ridiculous were many of the early "critics", so bizarre was the Garrison circus in New Orleans, that many perfectly honourable reporters shied away from what looked like a quagmire for reputations. So did I - until asked to make a BBC documentary about the work of the House Assassinations Committee. I spend weeks or months building a huge chronology and reading everything worth reading that I can lay my hands on. Then I start interviewing - usually hundreds of people. There are a number of reasons that may lead one to believe or not believe an interviewee. Sometimes those who seem the most credible turn out to liars, and vice versa. I like to have two sources or more for a fact or assertion - but sometimes one is not that lucky. Then you have to go with your own judgement in the context of all the other related information and the nature of the interviewee. I always let the reader know what my sources are - readers deserve that. How do I get hold of documents? Dozens of ways - the Freedom of Infromation Act, or its equivalent in countries other than the United States, holdings of individuals' personal papers, court records. In short, anywhere.
  6. So far as I know it has not been published. I believe I have a copy of it deep in the files somewhere. If you want to see the material, though, Jim Lesar - who obtained it for me in his capacity as my attorney - certainly has a copy.
  7. Operation 40

    You ask whether I found Martino credible. That's hard to answer because of course I was unable to interview him. He was long dead when I did the research. But I did find his widow Florence and his son credible - in that I interviewed them without notice or time for preparation many years after the event, and their responses seemed spontaneous. You ask who I think "paid" Martino to take part in the alleged operation. I'm not sure that this is even a legitimate question, since so far as I recall there was no suggestion that he had been paid. Anyway, I have no basis on which to speculate and in general try to avoid speculation.
  8. You ask whether I found Martino credible. That's hard to answer because of course I was unable to interview him. He was long dead when I did the research. But I did find his widow Florence and his son credible - in that I interviewed them without notice or time for preparation many years after the event, and their responses seemed spontaneous. You ask who I think "paid" Martino to take part in the alleged operation. I'm not sure that this is even a legitimate question, since so far as I recall there was no suggestion that he had been paid. Anyway, I have no basis on which to speculate and in general try to avoid speculation.
  9. I did indeed regret the fact that my then publisher - not I - decided to give my Kennedy assassination book the title Conspiracy. That word wound up on the cover because I had mooted something along the lines of the HSCA's (then fresh) finding of "probable" conspiracy. When the book was republished in the nineties I insisted that the title be changed to Not In Your Lifetime - a reference to Earl Warren's quote on publication of his Report, to the effect that some material not not be released "in your lifetime". It seems to me an affront that this should apply to any relevant material today. And, yes, I did say to Lisa Pease that I don't think a conspiracy has been proven - for the good reason that there is no definite, uncontested proof of conspiracy. Perhaps there was a plot, and my writings show that I'm very open to that possibility. But there's nothing finite, or indeed anything hard enough to "go to the bank" on. Any open-minded person ought to accept that. I don't know what Pease means by her reference to "self-serving" - and no idea who Gary Webb may be. I certainly have never discussed anyone of that name with Pease or anyone else. I have a dim memory of taking a look at Helliwell while working on my biography of Richard Nixon - but not in connection with the assassination. I'm aware, of course, of Shackley, Davidson and Quintero. But not of "evidence" that any of them were involved in the assassination. Your question as to what I know that might suggest Oswald was not involved alone in the assassination is too broad. But my book contains much information that might lead one to speculate just that (even that Oswald himself may conceivably have been framed).
  10. Anthony Summers

    I did indeed regret the fact that my then publisher - not I - decided to give my Kennedy assassination book the title Conspiracy. That word wound up on the cover because I had mooted something along the lines of the HSCA's (then fresh) finding of "probable" conspiracy. When the book was republished in the nineties I insisted that the title be changed to Not In Your Lifetime - a reference to Earl Warren's quote on publication of his Report, to the effect that some material not not be released "in your lifetime". It seems to me an affront that this should apply to any relevant material today. And, yes, I did say to Lisa Pease that I don't think a conspiracy has been proven - for the good reason that there is no definite, uncontested proof of conspiracy. Perhaps there was a plot, and my writings show that I'm very open to that possibility. But there's nothing finite, or indeed anything hard enough to "go to the bank" on. Any open-minded person ought to accept that. I don't know what Pease means by her reference to "self-serving" - and no idea who Gary Webb may be. I certainly have never discussed anyone of that name with Pease or anyone else.
  11. Biography: Anthony Summers

    Anthony Summers was born in 1942. After completing his education at Oxford University he worked as a journalist for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Summers has written several books about several historical figures including Nicholas II, John F. Kennedy, J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon: The File on the Tsar (1976), The Kennedy Conspiracy (1980), Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe (1985), Honeytrap (1988), The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover (1993), Not in Your Lifetime (1998), The Arrogance of Power:The Secret World of Richard Nixon (2000) and Sinatra: The Life (2005).
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