Whodunnit (ii): the murder of JFK

Thanks to a libris, I now have the four books I mentioned last blog. So let me provides some vital statistics. (All weights include index and footnotes, except for the Bugliosi which has its fns in a CD rom I didn’t get.)

In the black (pro-Warren) corner, Posner’s volume (1993), the veteran of the bunch, weighs in at 637 pp. His partner, the massive — think Andre the Giant — Bugliosi (2007) has 1632. In the white (anti-Warren) corner, the Talbot (2007) is a slim 417 pp, and the Douglas is a nearly as trim 510.

Before joining me in standing while Marilyn Monroe sings the national anthem, let me make a few observations. Posner, being published first can address none of the other books. Reviewing the other indexes though, I see Bugliosi mentions Posner several times, not generally complimentarily, but neither of his opponents, perhaps understandably since their publication dates were close to his. Talbot mentions Posner but not to rebut any points he made. Talbot says that Posner’s book became a best seller because it was favorably reviewed by the mainstream media since its conclusion let the same media “off the hook” for its complicity in the cover-up. (Any implications of his own book becoming a “bestseller,” as its softcover edition proclaims, are not drawn.) Douglas mentions neither Posner nor Bugliosi. The failure of Talbot and Douglas may be due to the fact to the close proximity of the publication dates of their books, but Bugliosi’s book stemmed from his having prosecuted Oswald in a 21-hour British television trial, broadcast over several days in several countries, in July 1986. (A condensed American version was shown on SHOW in November.) Gerry Spence was the defense attorney. The jury convicted Oswald, after six hours deliberation. This would seem to have warranted some mention.

Maybe it did in some later writings by Douglas and Talbot. I haven’t checked, but I am aware of an article in Talbot in “Slate” (11/6/13) where he places Douglas’s book atop a list of the seven “best books” about Kennedy’s killing. (His own is Number Six.) Neither Posner nor Bugliosi made the list but are dismissed as “hardcore lone gunmen” theorists.

I ought to say I am no impartial referee. I believed Oswald did it up until around the time of Oliver Stone’s movie on the subject. (Like most Americans, I had read none of the books on the subject.) Then I conceded it was as likely as not that other people were involved. Since then I have swung back to my original opinion.


As I finish the last writing project to which I’m committed, I’m looking at a new one. I approach it cautiously, due to its nature and because this decision coincides with my going off one of my meds, and the last time I dropped it, some regrettable e-mails and impaired relationships resulted. But I aim to uncover who killed Kennedy.

My plan is to lay out, point-by-point, the arguments in two books which believe the Warren Commission got it wrong and weigh them against the answering points, if they exist, in two books that agree with the Commission. In one corner are James Douglas’s “JFK and the Unimaginable” and David Talbot’s “Brothers.” In the opposite ate Gerald Posner’s “Case Closed” and Vincent Bugliosi’s “Reclaiming History.” I chose the Douglas because it is so highly thought of by my good friend and respected political thinker M that he will no longer discuss its subject — or much else of substance — with me; and I chose the Talbot because it is highly thought of by good friend and respected political thinker B, who not only still puts up with my thoughts but is sometimes influenced by them.

I don’t expect to convince anyone of anything. But I expect to inform myself, not only about the ostensible primary topic, but about how people — including myself — think and reason and inform themselves about what they choose to believe.

Stay tuned. This will take a while.