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Top Five Books on the JFK Assassination


David Talbot
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"Ultimate Sacrifice" is certainly not "the last word" on the Kennedy assassination. But it keeps the pot boiling. There are sure to be more books on the subject next fall. They will continue coming as long as the American public feels it is still not getting the full truth about the violent removal from office of its 35th president.

Readers interested in delving into the Kennedy assassination face a bewildering array of books to pick from. Here is my personal guide to the top five books on the subject, in the order I recommend reading them.

1. "Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why," by Gerald D. McKnight, University of Kansas Press, 2005.

This lucid and persuasive critique of the official version of the assassination is the best book on the subject in years. A good place to begin. (The University of Kansas Press deserves credit for making the JFK assassination an ongoing area of interest.)

2. "Not in Your Lifetime: The Definitive Book on the JFK Assassination," by Anthony Summers, Marlowe & Com., 1998.

The subtitle is accurate. Written by the indefatigable Irish investigative reporter, who has made a specialty of shedding light on America's darkest corners, Summers' book (originally published as "Conspiracy" in 1980) ferrets out a wide cast of suspicious characters, a number of whom never received the legal attention they should have before they died.

3. "The Last Investigation," by Gaeton Fonzi, Thunder's Mouth Press, 1993.

Fonzi, a Philadelphia journalist who became one of the most aggressive investigators for the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970s, is an unsung American hero. His account of the only government investigation that came close to cracking the JFK case is fascinating and heartbreaking.

4. "Oswald and the CIA," by John Newman, Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1995.

Newman, a University of Maryland professor who served for 20 years as a military intelligence officer, uses his national security experience to make a compelling case that accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was a creature of U.S. intelligence, despite the CIA's strong assertion he was not.

5. "All American Mafioso," by Charles Rappleye and Ed Becker, Doubleday, 1991.

Rappleye, a journalist, and Becker, a former Las Vegas P.R. man who was familiar with mobsters, tell the story of one of the most fascinating Mafia figures of all, Johnny Rosselli. The key link between the underworld and the CIA, for whom he organized murder plots against Fidel Castro, Rosselli became a witness of great interest to government investigators in the 1970s. Just as he was starting to tell his story to the Church Committee, which was thought to include revelations about the Kennedy assassination, Rosselli's dismembered body was found floating in an oil drum in the waters off Miami. "He was killed every way you can kill a man," former Sen. Gary Hart, a Church Committee member, later recalled.

Still hungry for more? Pick up copies of "The Zapruder Film," by David R. Wrone (another excellent title from the University of Kansas Press, 2003); "Deep Politics and the Death of JFK" (University of California Press, 1996), by one of the grand old men of the JFK research field, Berkeley professor Peter Dale Scott; "JFK, Nixon, Oliver Stone & Me" (Public Affairs, 2002), an entertaining account of Washington/Hollywood politics by a former congressional staffer named Eric Hamburg who helped guide the energy unleashed by the film "JFK" into passage of the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act -- an enormous boon to researchers trying to expand our knowledge of the crime, but which has yet to be fully complied with by government agencies.

http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2005/12...ooks/index.html

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BK’S Top 5 JFK Assassination Books – Bill Kelly – Bkjfk3@yahoo.com

Hello David,

Okay, and after careful consideration, I’ll throw my hat in this ring too.

One of the first articles I ever had published professionally was a review of books about the assassination [see: The Kennedy Beat Goes On - from the 70s, which I think holds up pretty good after all these years, errr,…decades. ]

I’ve tried to keep up with all new books. This is not a list of the best books on the subject, nor the ten most influential, but rather, the ones that I believe you need to read in order to figure out the crime.

Agreed with David on Tony, the best investigative journalist on the case, when he is on the case, and I’m proud to have worked with him and contributed in a small way to the Jim Braden and Carl Mather sections of the book. But we’ve come along way since then. I couldn’t come up with just five, so I limited it to five areas, and a few obscure but important books.

1) Not In Your Lifetime – by Anthony Summers, the one book that puts it all together and deals with most of the significant issues in the right way. But Tony’s book is built on the firm ground set down by Sylvia Meagher, Joshia Thompson, Mark Lane, Vince Salandria, Penn Jones and other early independent researchers.

2) – The Fish Is Red (William Turner/Warren Hinkle) or Turner’s bio Rearview Mirror by former renegade FBI agent who runs down almost every important alley, follows the leads to New Orleans and Florida and gives an accurate report on what he finds. While Dick Russell, Gaeton Fonzi and today Larry Hancock take the same paths much further, Turner kicked open the door and went in first.

3) – The Warren Report or William Manchester’s Death of A President, though conceding the lone assassin senario, give the details you need to know, but fail to go the extra mile on all important leads.

4) – Nightwatch – by David Atlee Phillips, gives you the necessary historical context and gets you into the Great Game, learning the tradecraft of the game, which can also be learned from - The Craft of Intelligence, by Alan Dulles, or his girlfriend’s memoirs Autobiography of a Spy – by Mary Bancroft. Dulles suggests Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, which has a chapter on the use of secret agents, the five types of agents and how when they are used properly, are the Devine Scheme.

5) - As for strategy and techniques that were used in the assassination of JFK, Ed Lutwack’s Coup d’etat – A Practical Handbook lays out the procedures for taking over a government by coup (as opposed to insurrection, revolution or election) and reflects the need for the coup plotters to control communications.

Then there’s Paul Linebarger who wrote the textbook Propaganda and Pyschological Warfare, but when he taught such students as Ed Lansdale, E. Howard Hunt and David Atee Phillips, as a text he used The American Confidence Man (Charles C. Thomas, Pub. 1974 ), by Professor David W. Maurer, professor of linguistics at the University of Louisville, Kentucky.

Maurer’s The American Confidence Man is a fascinating book that I picked up for a quarter at a used book store, before I knew of Linebarger’s use of it to train his covert operatives.

In the course of his study of language, Maurer focused on the slang words used and developed by confidence gangs of the 1920s and 1930s, when the Big Con Big Store – was refined like a theatrical performance, one of which was the Wire, the fake western union wire and horse betting parlor as portrayed in the movie The Sting, one of the words Maurer helped define more clearly.

When I recognized the movie plot in the book, I called the linguistics dept. at UL and while Maurer had died, his former assistant acknowledged that Maurer had the same sensation I did when he saw the movie and recognized his book. He notified his attorney, who inquired with the production company, and the screenwriters, who denied having read Maurer’s book. But when they got the screenwriter on the stand in court, under oath, he couldn’t explain where they got the name Charlie Gondorf, one of the most prolific and real inside man on the Big Con, as outlined in Maurer’s book, and no where else. Maurer never got the recognition but eventually got some money from the Hollywood con men who tried to steal his research.

The idea is that what happened at Dealey Plaza should be looked on, not as a homicide, but as a Big Con job, with JFK being the Mark.

All the other details are just props, smoke and mirrors.

BK

Below is my review from the 1970s:

Parting Shot – The Kennedy Beat Goes On – Broadsider Magazine – Ocean City, New Jersey.

By William Kelly [Published June 19, 1976 by Marion Talese/Edited by Kurt Loder]

Since the murder of President John F. Kennedy almost thirteen years ago, countless books have been written – and at least a hundred of them published – documenting the assassination. And more of them are in the works. Six new books worthy of attention have been published this year alone, riding a wave of media publicity left in the wake of the recently renewed congressional investigation.

Not since Warren Commission attorney David Belin attempted to defend the findings of the original panel of investigators (in November 22, 1963 – You Are the Jury, Quadrangle Books) has anyone attempted to p;ut forth the notion that a lone nut – Lee Harvey Oswald – was the sole culpret. The most recently published works, in fact, all argue rather persuasively that the deed was done by agent-technicians of either the CIA, the Mafia, anti-Castro Cubans – or all three in concert.

Establishment Quack

Without a doubt, the last word has not been written on this subject – despite the rather inflated title of Appointment in Dallas: The Final Solution to the Assassination of JFK, which is probably the most widely discussed of the new books – Appointment is rife with tidbits of previously published research, and is the work, I believe, of a quack. Despite his certified Establishment credentials, author Hugh McDonald offers us nothing much beyond an astonishing tale of how he came to meet a man in London – whom he calls Saul – who, he asserts, is a professional assassin who killed the president for $50,000.

McDonald, who was formally chief of detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, a CIA contract agent, and head of security for Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign, has told his incredible story to Geoffrey Bocca, a novelist who will probably remain unknown for his two previous books, The Life and Death of Harry Oakes and Commander Amanda. Reading The Final Solution, one cannot help but recall the Howard Hughes/Clifford Irving affair. McDonald claims that the famous photo of an unknown man leaving the Cuban embassy in Mexico City – a man originally identified by the CIA as Oswald, although he obviously isn’t – is actually ‘Saul’, the real assassin. Armed with this photo, plus a story told to him by his CIA contact officer (now conveniently deceased) and the aid of a secret anti-communist underground society in Europe known as the ‘Blue Fox,” McDonald treks across South America and Europe in search of the elusive ‘Saul’ – whom he finally catches up with (of all places) in the lobby of a London hotel in 1972.

McDonald’s 210 pages churn with Cold War intrigues and stale, anti-Russian germ-warfare propaganda (that even the CIA has by now discarded), until the last chapter – which is ‘Saul’s’ True Confession. And which is anything but plausible.

Three Tramps

A good standard to use in determining the seriousness of an historian’s research is the quality of the index, references and footnotes. Appointment in Dallas has none, while Canfield and Weberman’s Coup d’etat in America and Robert Sam Anson’s They’ve Killed the President! Are both very well documented. Both books probe deeply into the sometimes (unavoidably) confusing but important relationships between Oswald, Ruby, organized crime, and various governmental agencies.

Canfield and Weberman begin with the celebrated photographs of the three “tramps” being taken into custody by police at Dealey Plaza immediately after the assassination. Who were they? According to the authors, two of them were Watergate burglars E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis. Canfield and Weberman gave copies of these photos to ex-comedian-turned-assassination theorists Dick Gregory, who got a lot of media publicity for them and finally forced the Rockefeller Commission to look into the allegations. (It was finally decided – tentatively, at least – that they were just three tramps.)

Coup d’etat is available now only in a $12 hardbound which makes it somewhat inaccessible to the general public, but Anson’s They’ve Killed the President – The Search for the Murderers of John F. Kennedy is readily available at your corner bookstore in a $2.50 Bantam paperback edition. It covers much of the same ground as Coup d’etat, but in a less paranoid, more reasonable – and ultimately more convincing – style. Working with a $25,000 advance, Anson, a political editor for New Times magazine, has put together a meticulous manuscript that covers the assassination in a sound, logical manner, from the curious ballistic evidence down to the Cuban connections.

Of the remaining books published recently, two are edited texts containing articles and news clippings previously published in various periodicals by both newsmen and independent researchers. Government By Gunplay, edited by Sid Blumenthal, of the Boston-based Assassination Information Bureau, is available at Mark’s Central News here in Ocean City for $1.50, and includes articles by former Pentagon/CIA liaison officer L. Fletcher Prouty; old New Left theorists Carl Oglesby; and Robert Groden, the optics expert who restored the original Zapruder film and finally got it onto national TV for the fist time – last year.

Awaiting the Last Word

The Assassination: Dallas and Beyond, edited by Peter Dale Scot, a professor at the University of California , is probably the most vital recent edition to assassination literature. It is an authoritative text containing 43 articles and important documents for serious conspiracy buffs and students of history at the college level.

For newcomers to the politics of assassination, re-issued classics now available in paperback at local bookstores include Mark Lane’s Rush to Judgement, first issued in 1966; Jim Garrison’s Heritage of Stone and Sylvia Meaagher’s brilliant but expensive ($7) Accessories After the Fact.

The most recent paperback available is JFK: The Case for Conspiracy, by F. Peter Model and the aforementioned Robert Groden, which is published by Manor Books, costs $1.95, and contains some rather disturbing color frames of the Zapruder film and an analysis of recent news reports on the assassination.

Certainly, the last word has yet to be written on the events that took place in Dallas thirteen years ago – and which have haunted us ever since. The only thing now known for sure is that the hard questions remain to this day unanswered.

[Ed Note: William Kelly has read the Warren Commission Report and 26 volumes of supporting records and is a substitute history teacher at Ocean City High School. ]

Edited by William Kelly
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My top five (but not in the order I would read them if I was just beginning to investigate the assassination).

(1) Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked (2003)

Larry has probably the most comprehensive understanding of the assassination than anyone else in the research community. The book is particularly good on the anti-Castro Cuban exiles and the events surrounding the LBJ/Bobby Baker scandal. Larry has also impressed me by the way he has answered questions about his book on the Forum. Although several other authors have agreed to do this, no one has done it so well as Larry. The book has unfairly been ignored by the critics and has received very few reviews. I am looking forward to reading the revised edition due in March.

(2) Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation (1993)

A fascinating account of the research that Gaeton Fonzi did as a staff investigator on the House Select Committee on Assassinations. At times it reads like a Raymond Chandler novel (yes, the writing is that good). The only problem with the book is that one gets the impression that Fonzi is not telling you everything he knows. Would love to persuade him to answer questions about his book on the Forum.

(3) Gerald D. McKnight, Breach of Trust (2005)

A book that has not received the publicity it deserves. McKnight’s has provided an excellent analysis of the Warren Report. In doing so he shows conclusively that the Warren Commission was wrong. More importantly, the members of the commission knew that they got it wrong and therefore were willing participants of the cover-up. Unlike most writers on the assassination, McKnight is a professional historian and he always remains within the bounds of the available evidence. As a result, it is the one book that should be read by those who still believe in the lone gunman theory.

(4) Anthony Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy (2002)

This was a breakthrough book when first published in 1980. However, Summers has constantly revisited the subject and each new edition has contained even more information about the conspiracy. Although not a professional historian, Summers is always very careful about the way he deals with the sources and has always avoided believing some of the more dubious witnesses. This should always be the first book that anyone reads about the JFK assassination.

(5) Richard Mahoney, Sons and Brothers (1999)

This is not a book that concentrates on the assassination. However, by looking closely at the relationship between John and Robert Kennedy, he provides a great deal of information that helps to explain both the assassination and the cover-up. As with Fonzi, you get the impression that Mahoney has not told us everything he knows. I suspect that is because much of this book is based on “off the record” information. That includes information supplied by his father, William P. Mahoney, JFK’s Ambassador to Ghana.

Other books that should be read by all students of the assassination include Thomas G. Buchanan’s Who Killed Kennedy? (1964), Joachim Joesten’s Oswald, Assassin or Fall Guy? (1964), William Penn Jones’ Forgive My Grief I (1966), Carl Oglesby’s The Yankee and Cowboy War: Conspiracies from Dallas to Watergate and Beyond (1976), William Turner’s The Fish Is Red: The Story of the Secret War Against Castro (1981), Jim Garrison’s On the Trail of the Assassins (1988), Jim Marrs' Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy (1989), Mark Lane’s Plausible Denial (1991), Dick Russell’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1992), Matthew Smith’s JFK: The Second Plot (1992), Peter Dale Scott’s, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993) and Lamar Waldron’s Ultimate Sacrifice (2005).

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Let me add this about the premise of the Trento book.

What if JFK thought he could depose Castro without Soviet retaliation because he had cut a secret deal with Khruschev.

It is possible that hard-liners in the Soviet Union, had they become aware of such a deal, could have decided: 1) they would have to take out Kennedy to protect Castro; and 2) they would also have to get rid of Khruschev. Had there been a Kennedy/Khruschev deal over Cuba that could have sealed the fate of both men.

Re my top five books, I am sure I would include "Ultimate Sacrifice", although I have not yet read it. And "Live By the Sword." Even though I do not agree with all of his conclusions, I rate Gaeton Fonzi's "The Last Investigation" very highly. I also like Scott's "Deep Politics." And of course near the top would be "Someone Would Have Talked". I'd put Scott's at #5 subject to reconsideration and replacement with a different book.

I do not include Trento's book because it covers a lot more than the assassination.

Finally, although I would not put it in the Top Five, I like Kurtz's "The Crime of the Century" and he may come closest to identifying the conspirators: 1) same Mafioso identified in "Ultimate Sacrifice"; 2) Cuba; and 3) "rogue" CIA agents. I would also add Hoffa because I think Trafficante and Marcello received encouragement from Hoffa. So I think Kurtz may come closest to identifying the parties to the conspiracy. Perhaps it does belong in my "Top Five" for that reason alone.

I do agree with you that Mahoney's "Sons and Brothers" is very good and I also like "All American Mafioso" although the latter is not strictly an assassination book.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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Guest Stephen Turner

From my perspective, anyone who seriously intends to research this matter needs, at the very least, a good understanding of the Warren commission. It is impossible,or imprudent to attempt a rebuttal of work that you have not bothered to familiarise yourself with.I also think any serious researcher needs to read Posner, if only to see how its done. Steve.

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My Top Five Books (for today) are:

1. Not In Your Lifetime by Anthony Summers. Gets extra points for constantly updating his work... He really draws a compelling picture of Oswald and the usual cast of anti-Castro Cubans, etc..

2. Six Seconds in Dallas by Josiah Thompson. The first book to really explore the evidence from a fresh perspective. My own research is in many ways built upon a foundation laid by Thompson.

3. Post-Mortem by Harold Weisberg. Weisberg really deserves a cumulative nomination for all his books. He was the most-in-your-face of the early researchers. He refused to jump at conspiracy theories, choosing instead to focus on the governments obfuscations and misrepresentations. His writing style is admittedly an acquired taste, but he dug up more documents and was a bigger thorn in the side of the government than all the other researchers combined.

4. Someone Would Have Talked by Larry Hancock. A connect the dots approach to the conspiracy pays off, showing how a conspiracy involving the mafia, the CIA, and the anti-Castro Cubans need not be as big a conspiracy as most would have you believe. Gets extra points for the thousand pages of documents on the accompanying cd-rom.

5. The Last Investigation by Gaeton Fonzi. Gives you an inside look at the HSCA investigation. Needs to be made into a movie.

Of course, there are many others. If Robert Blakey were to write a tell-all book about what went on behind the scenes in the HSCA investigation, I would move that to number one.

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My Top Five Books (for today) are:

1. Not In Your Lifetime by Anthony Summers. Gets extra points for constantly updating his work... He really draws a compelling picture of Oswald and the usual cast of anti-Castro Cubans, etc..

2. Six Seconds in Dallas by Josiah Thompson. The first book to really explore the evidence from a fresh perspective. My own research is in many ways built upon a foundation laid by Thompson.

3. Post-Mortem by Harold Weisberg. Weisberg really deserves a cumulative nomination for all his books. He was the most-in-your-face of the early researchers. He refused to jump at conspiracy theories, choosing instead to focus on the governments obfuscations and misrepresentations. His writing style is admittedly an acquired taste, but he dug up more documents and was a bigger thorn in the side of the government than all the other researchers combined.

4. Someone Would Have Talked by Larry Hancock. A connect the dots approach to the conspiracy pays off, showing how a conspiracy involving the mafia, the CIA, and the anti-Castro Cubans need not be as big a conspiracy as most would have you believe. Gets extra points for the thousand pages of documents on the accompanying cd-rom.

5. The Last Investigation by Gaeton Fonzi. Gives you an inside look at the HSCA investigation. Needs to be made into a movie.

Of course, there are many others. If Robert Blakey were to write a tell-all book about what went on behind the scenes in the HSCA investigation, I would move that to number one.

From my perspective, anyone who seriously intends to research this matter needs, at the very least, a good understanding of the Warren commission. It is impossible,or imprudent to attempt a rebuttal of work that you have not bothered to familiarise yourself with.I also think any serious researcher needs to read Posner, if only to see how its done. Steve.

Steve, you would require that of someone? I would liken that to being a prisoner at Abu Ghraib. LOL.

No, your point is well taken.

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My Top Five would be (not in any order):

1. Post Mortem: JFK Assassination Cover-Up Smashed! Weisberg. I have always felt that in reading this book and digesting its contents one can say authoritatively, that, based on the official evidence only, LHO fired no shots on November 22, 1963.

2. Presumed Guilty by Howard Roffman. I have always been impressed by his concise dissection of the official theory. Part II, the medical/ballistics evidence analysis pulverizes the official assertions. And, Chapter 8, The Alibi, clearly shows, again using only official evidence that LHO cannot have been both the 6th floor shooter and a second floor Coke consumer in the time allowed by the Warren Commision lawyers.

And the entire book is available free on line. Cool.

3. Never Again! Weisberg. He recaps all the medical, ballistic, and clothing evidence that supports more than one shooter and demolishes the misinformation put out by The Journal of American Medical Association's treatment of the case. One key thing often overlooked by many: The Warren Commission disproved its own report when they hired Dr. Joseph Dolce to test the Mannlicher Carcano ammunition against the single bullet theory. As Dolce years later pointed out to Chip Selby--for his excellent Reasonable Doubt video-- he proved with experiments that the single bullet theory is not true. He told this to Warren Commission lawyers in an April 1964 meeting and they just ignored him. Never called him to testify. His testing is key. I wonder why he is so often overlooked by critics. No definitive work on this case should ignore his revealing test results, nor the treatment he received by the Commission. Weisberg also has some strong words for Jim Garrison and says that Garrison went in the direction with the investigation. There were some leads he gave Garrison while he was in New Orleans, but they weren't pursued.

4. The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, A Bibliography, 1963-1979, compiled by DeLloyd J. Guth and David R. Wrone. This one is essential because in the preface Wrone severely criticizes the House Select Committee on the Assassinations for ignoring massive evidence of conspiracy. He highlights seven major flaws in their approach. This is another set of data most critics have ignored over the years in their discussions re the HSCA. (also, Wrone wrote a great article, Cicero's Lament, on the occasion of David Belin's death, available on line; what a great destruction of the lies of the Commission and Belin; no wonder guys like Wrone don't get on Nightline or the other major news talk shows in America.)

5. Breach of Trust. McKnight. Others have talked about this very fine volume. McKnight rightly give a lot of credit to Harold Weisberg, the dean of the assassination critics.

Others I'd have on my list:

* The Zapruder Film by David R. Wrone. I have always been impressed with his scholarship. He never seems to get the mainstream media press he deserves.

*Accessories After the Fact. Sylvia Meagher. Very well done early analysis of the documentary base.

*The Last Investigation. Fonzi's book is fascinating.

*The Strength of the Wolf. Douglas Valentine's scholarship has always been suberb and he has a chapter on The Federal Bureau of Narcotics and the Assassination of JFK. Very, very interesting. He told me he also believes the key to the case is what happened in Mexico City.

*Not In Your Lifetime. Anthony Summers.

*The Assassinations. James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, editors.

Brian LeCloux

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Guest Stephen Turner

From my perspective, anyone who seriously intends to research this matter needs, at the very least, a good understanding of the Warren commission. It is impossible,or imprudent to attempt a rebuttal of work that you have not bothered to familiarise yourself with.I also think any serious researcher needs to read Posner, if only to see how its done. Steve.

Steve, you would require that of someone? I would liken that to being a prisoner at Abu Ghraib. LOL.

No, your point is well taken.

Robert, Posner was easy, By the time I had finished reading it for the first, and last time, i had enough ideas in my head to rebutt three quarters of his spin there and then. The W/C is another matter, and I feel I should warn newbies not to tackle this gothic masterpiece in one go. But for cross referencing witness statements it is hard to beat. Steve.

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3. Never Again! Weisberg. He recaps all the medical, ballistic, and clothing evidence that supports more than one shooter and demolishes the misinformation put out by The Journal of American Medical Association's treatment of the case. One key thing often overlooked by many: The Warren Commission disproved its own report when they hired Dr. Joseph Dolce to test the Mannlicher Carcano ammunition against the single bullet theory. As Dolce years later pointed out to Chip Selby--for his excellent Reasonable Doubt video-- he proved with experiments that the single bullet theory is not true. He told this to Warren Commission lawyers in an April 1964 meeting and they just ignored him. Never called him to testify. His testing is key. I wonder why he is so often overlooked by critics. No definitive work on this case should ignore his revealing test results, nor the treatment he received by the Commission. Weisberg also has some strong words for Jim Garrison and says that Garrison went in the direction with the investigation. There were some leads he gave Garrison while he was in New Orleans, but they weren't pursued.

Brian LeCloux

I think you misunderstand Dolce's significance, as did Weisberg. Dolce did not disprove the SBT. In the early discussions he merely voiced his disagreement that a bullet shattering a wrist could exit as undamaged as CE 399. Dr. Light, among others, agreed. Dolce was cut-out of the loop at that point. Dr. Olivier then had a gunner fire shots into ten severed arms, and sure enough, the exiting bullets were all far more damaged than CE 399. Dolce's theory had been proved. But this DID NOT disprove the SBT. To Olivier, and perhaps, more significantly, to Specter, this proved that the bullet shattering Connally's wrist had been traveling at a slower speed than the bullets fired in Olivier's tests. (The damage incurred by a bullet is directly related to the speed it is traveling when it hits bone.) What's significant is not that they disregarded Dolce's comments, but that they failed to test bullets traveling at a reduced speed to see at what speed a bullet striking a wrist might emerge and still look like CE 399. In other words, the tests were designed merely to add credence to Specter's theory, and not to establish fact. If they'd done the proper testing, they may very well have found that there was NO speed at which a bullet could shatter a wrist and emerge unscathed. But those tests have never been done, leaving the door open for the Posnerites and Lattimerites to spew their nonsense. (Both the CBS tests in 67 and the "Beyond the Magic Bullet" tests last year were flawed in their conception--and both failed to simulate a magic bullet.)

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My five top choices:

Weisberg's Post-Mortem

ibid Never Again (a little partial because I provided the title.)

ibid his unedited ms that was published under the title "Case Open," the antidote to Posner's apologia for the official story. (Like Max Holland remarked to Prof. Kutler: McKnight is a Weisberg disciple but he writes better. That was Max's withering appraisal of BOT. Max gets nervous, I think, when somebody actually cites the government's own records.)

Dave Wrone's book on the Zapruder film.

Howard Roffman, Presumed Guity

I'd have to add Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation

Barbie Zelizer, Covering the Body (I think is a much overlooked little classic).

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  • 1 month later...

3. Never Again! Weisberg. He recaps all the medical, ballistic, and clothing evidence that supports more than one shooter and demolishes the misinformation put out by The Journal of American Medical Association's treatment of the case. One key thing often overlooked by many: The Warren Commission disproved its own report when they hired Dr. Joseph Dolce to test the Mannlicher Carcano ammunition against the single bullet theory. As Dolce years later pointed out to Chip Selby--for his excellent Reasonable Doubt video-- he proved with experiments that the single bullet theory is not true. He told this to Warren Commission lawyers in an April 1964 meeting and they just ignored him. Never called him to testify. His testing is key. I wonder why he is so often overlooked by critics. No definitive work on this case should ignore his revealing test results, nor the treatment he received by the Commission. Weisberg also has some strong words for Jim Garrison and says that Garrison went in the direction with the investigation. There were some leads he gave Garrison while he was in New Orleans, but they weren't pursued.

Brian LeCloux

I think you misunderstand Dolce's significance, as did Weisberg. Dolce did not disprove the SBT. In the early discussions he merely voiced his disagreement that a bullet shattering a wrist could exit as undamaged as CE 399. Dr. Light, among others, agreed. Dolce was cut-out of the loop at that point. Dr. Olivier then had a gunner fire shots into ten severed arms, and sure enough, the exiting bullets were all far more damaged than CE 399. Dolce's theory had been proved. But this DID NOT disprove the SBT. To Olivier, and perhaps, more significantly, to Specter, this proved that the bullet shattering Connally's wrist had been traveling at a slower speed than the bullets fired in Olivier's tests. (The damage incurred by a bullet is directly related to the speed it is traveling when it hits bone.) What's significant is not that they disregarded Dolce's comments, but that they failed to test bullets traveling at a reduced speed to see at what speed a bullet striking a wrist might emerge and still look like CE 399. In other words, the tests were designed merely to add credence to Specter's theory, and not to establish fact. If they'd done the proper testing, they may very well have found that there was NO speed at which a bullet could shatter a wrist and emerge unscathed. But those tests have never been done, leaving the door open for the Posnerites and Lattimerites to spew their nonsense. (Both the CBS tests in 67 and the "Beyond the Magic Bullet" tests last year were flawed in their conception--and both failed to simulate a magic bullet.)

3. Never Again! Weisberg. He recaps all the medical, ballistic, and clothing evidence that supports more than one shooter and demolishes the misinformation put out by The Journal of American Medical Association's treatment of the case. One key thing often overlooked by many: The Warren Commission disproved its own report when they hired Dr. Joseph Dolce to test the Mannlicher Carcano ammunition against the single bullet theory. As Dolce years later pointed out to Chip Selby--for his excellent Reasonable Doubt video-- he proved with experiments that the single bullet theory is not true. He told this to Warren Commission lawyers in an April 1964 meeting and they just ignored him. Never called him to testify. His testing is key. I wonder why he is so often overlooked by critics. No definitive work on this case should ignore his revealing test results, nor the treatment he received by the Commission. Weisberg also has some strong words for Jim Garrison and says that Garrison went in the direction with the investigation. There were some leads he gave Garrison while he was in New Orleans, but they weren't pursued.

Brian LeCloux

I think you misunderstand Dolce's significance, as did Weisberg. Dolce did not disprove the SBT. In the early discussions he merely voiced his disagreement that a bullet shattering a wrist could exit as undamaged as CE 399. Dr. Light, among others, agreed. Dolce was cut-out of the loop at that point. Dr. Olivier then had a gunner fire shots into ten severed arms, and sure enough, the exiting bullets were all far more damaged than CE 399. Dolce's theory had been proved. But this DID NOT disprove the SBT. To Olivier, and perhaps, more significantly, to Specter, this proved that the bullet shattering Connally's wrist had been traveling at a slower speed than the bullets fired in Olivier's tests. (The damage incurred by a bullet is directly related to the speed it is traveling when it hits bone.) What's significant is not that they disregarded Dolce's comments, but that they failed to test bullets traveling at a reduced speed to see at what speed a bullet striking a wrist might emerge and still look like CE 399. In other words, the tests were designed merely to add credence to Specter's theory, and not to establish fact. If they'd done the proper testing, they may very well have found that there was NO speed at which a bullet could shatter a wrist and emerge unscathed. But those tests have never been done, leaving the door open for the Posnerites and Lattimerites to spew their nonsense. (Both the CBS tests in 67 and the "Beyond the Magic Bullet" tests last year were flawed in their conception--and both failed to simulate a magic bullet.)

I think Weisberg had it right on the significance of Dr. Joseph Dolce and he was joined by Professors David R. Wrone and Gerald W. McKnight. In fact, Dolce indicated to documentary film maker Chip Selby for the excellent doc, Reasonbable Doubt, that he proved with experiments that the single bullet theory was not true and he added--and this is on the video---that his conclusions were shown with bullets "even at low velocity."

Also, Dolce did the tests, as he pointed out. The report was written by someone else, but Dolce did the tests.

Finally, in his new book, Breach of Trust, Gerald McKnight, tells readers that Gaeton Fonzi recommended the HSCA interview Dolce, but they never did.

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From my perspective, anyone who seriously intends to research this matter needs, at the very least, a good understanding of the Warren commission.

Stephen, agreed, and the first book to analyze the Warren Commission was "The Oswald Affair" by Leo Sauvage, which remains one of the best books about the Crime of the Century. Sylvia Meagher's "Acessories" is essential, as is the entire opus of Harold Weisberg, warts and all. Mark Lane's "Rush to Judgement" has some important sections, while "Six Seconds in Dallas" by Josiah Thompson takes much of Lane's book to another level. Edward Jay Epstein's "Inquest" is indispensible on the inner workings of the Commission, while Henry Hurt's "Reasonable Doubt" would be an ideal textbook on the case were it not for the Easterling section and the author's pro-Garrison bias.

For insight into how the case developed in the early years, Mark lane's "A Citizen's dissent" is good, though it is heavily biased in favor of Mark Lane, while David Lifton's "Best Evidence" -- besides being a primer in the medical evidence, (Time Magazine called it "a prolix medical thriller") and a chronicle of how the case developed up to 1980 as viewed by the research community -- is one of the scariest books ever written in the history of the world.

In general these books steer clear of speculation, unlike many of the books cited in this thread.

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