A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination

Philip Shenon, Author
Philip Shenon. Holt, $32 (640p) ISBN 978-0-805094-20-6
Reviewed on: 11/04/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
Open Ebook - 640 pages - 978-1-4299-4369-7
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Hardcover - 640 pages - 978-0-349-14061-2
Hardcover - 464 pages - 978-1-4087-0533-9
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This sober and powerful book, in spite of its headline-grabbing subtitle, is more a secret history of the Warren Commission than a secret history of the J.F.K. assassination itself. As in his The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, Shenon, a former New York Times reporter, affords the reader access to the behind-the-scenes deliberations and dynamics that shaped a historic inquiry into a national trauma. Positive word about Shenon’s first book prompted a prominent lawyer—who had been a young investigator on the Warren Commission—to ask Shenon to tell the story of the commission’s staff, “the then young lawyers who did the actual detective work in 1964.” The result is likely to frustrate both those who are adamant that a conspiracy was behind the killing, and those convinced that the Warren Commission got everything right. Shenon successfully portrays the unethical approach of the most prominent early conspiracy theorist, Mark Lane, and rigorously avoids speculating beyond what the evidence demonstrates. But the combination of destroyed records, unpursued investigative leads, and lies by senior government officials—“most especially at the CIA”—will leave most reasonable readers unsettled as to whether the truth has yet been discovered. Maps and photos. (Oct.)
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