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William Manchester and JFK

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William Manchester died earlier this week. Most of the obituaries mention the disputes over the publication of Manchester’s Death of a President.

In 1964 Jacqueline Kennedy commissioned Manchester to write an account of the assassination of JFK. However, she was unhappy with the manuscript and managed to get Manchester to make several changes. The story goes that Jacqueline was particularly upset by Manchester's portrayal of Lyndon B. Johnson. One change she insisted on concerned the opening of the book where Johnson is seen bullying JFK into going on a deer hunt. Despite the author's willingness to tone down his criticisms of Johnson (including the changing of the opening scene) she was still not happy with the final version on the book. Jacqueline tried to stop the book being published and even offered Look Magazine $1m to kill its serialization (the magazine had paid $665,000 for the right to serialize the book).

This is indeed a strange story. Manchester made few comments about the matter but in interviews he did back up the Kennedy family view that he had been killed by a lone gunman.

Maybe, Manchester gave us a clue to what really happened with his next book (a book that he claims the authorities tried to stop him writing) was The Arms of Krupp (1968). The book was a look at the two German arms manufacturers, Gustav Krupp and Alfried Krupp. The book explored the Krupp family's links to Adolf Hitler and his government. Although Krupp, was convicted of war crimes at the Nuremburg trials he was released in 1951 by the Americans because he was considered essential to the Cold War effort.

What was the connection between this and the assassination of JFK? Well, the man who ordered Krupp’s release was John J. McCloy, the high commissioner in American occupied Germany. Yes, the same man who sat on the Warren Commission. McCloy was also an arms advisor to JFK and was largely responsible for the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in 1963.



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