cover image Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

Vincent Bugliosi, Author . Norton $49.95 (1612p) ISBN 978-0-393-04525-3

Bugliosi, best known as Charles Manson's prosecutor, spent more than 20 years writing this defense of the Warren Commission's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the slaying of President Kennedy, but his obsession has produced a massive tome that's likely to overwhelm most readers. At times, the author seems determined to present every detail his researches revealed, even if it doesn't add to the overall picture (like a footnote on Elvis sightings). Further, while Bugliosi says even serious conspiracy theorists don't claim the FBI or Secret Service were involved, he devotes chapters to each. The book's structure—it's organized by subject, such as theories about the role of the FBI, the KGB or anti-Castro Cubans—leads to needless repetition, and, for an author who excoriates conspiracy theorists, charging them with carelessness and making wild accusations, Bugliosi is not always temperate in his language; for example, twice he makes the nonsensical claim that some Warren Commission critics "were screaming the word conspiracy before the fatal bullet had come to rest." His decision to devote twice as many pages to critiquing Oliver Stone's movie JFK as to his chapter on organized crime (identified by the chief counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassination as the likely conspirators) is a curious one, as is the choice to open the book with a dramatic re-creation of events surrounding the assassination rather than a straightforward chronology of the relevant facts. Moreover, Bugliosi does not always probe whether individuals who are the sole source for certain facts (for example, Oswald's widow, Marina) had any motive to lie. Bugliosi's voluminous endnotes are on an accompanying CD. Gerald Posner's 1993 Case Closed made most of the same points in a much more concise way. 32 pages of illus. (May)