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Barry Ryder "Barry Ryder" (London)

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A Simple Act of Murder: November 22, 1963
A Simple Act of Murder: November 22, 1963
by Mark Fuhrman
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When simple gets complicated, 14 Jun. 2010
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Mark Fuhrman’s 2006 book is an unashamedly ‘Oswald-did-it-and-did-it-alone’ publication. He’s absolutely right, of course; Oswald did murder JFK and there is no evidence that he was assisted in his task. He also killed J. D. Tippit about forty-five minutes after killing Kennedy, of course.

The early chapters breeze by with comfortable familiarity. Furman knows what is real and what isn’t. Oswald’s purchase of two murder weapons is discussed and presented with clarity and confidence. The ‘back-yard photos’ are of Oswald, they aren’t fakes. Oswald did attempt to murder Walker and there is sufficient physical evidence and testimony to accept it as a fact. The ‘acoustic evidence’ of a fourth shot is wrong.

The author traces Oswald from the Paine home on the morning of the murders carrying a wrapped package which looked suspiciously like a disassembled rifle. By the noon hour, Furman shows Oswald in earnest preparation for the murder which is only minutes away.

This is all good stuff. In truth, all of this had been written before. Posner, Ford, Davidson, Newman, Manchester, Bishop, Moore, Ayton and Belin, among others, have all related the sequence of events. The Warren Commission and HSCA followed the same facts and reached the same conclusions long before Fuhrman put pen to paper. The narrative is always the same. It’s always the same because there is only one way to tell the truth.

So what is different about ‘A Simple Act Of Murder’? Well, the author doesn’t buy the single bullet conclusion! That’s right; he thinks that it’s wrong. Now this is unique, surely? A professional in the field accepts Oswald’s sole culpability yet he rejects Specter’s solution.

In truth, this part of the book – roughly from page 114 until the book’s end – is the most engrossing aspect of Fuhrman’s presentation.

The discussion and logic that the author employs in order to advance his alternative analysis of the shooting sequence is pretty good. I won’t spoil anybody’s potential reading enjoyment by revealing any detail of what he suggests.

I will state that, despite Fuhrman’s best efforts, I was unconvinced. I felt that he placed an over-reliance on the WC testimony of Nellie Connally. The fine lady told the truth as best she knew it, of course, but the Z-film and Croft 3 show that she was mistaken. Her conviction about what she felt had happened greatly influenced her husband’s assumptions and they seem to have done the same to Mark Fuhrman.

That said, the arguments advanced by the author aren’t without merit and they do demand a hearing. The suggested alternative that the author puts forward is nowhere near as ridiculous as the tripe that the conspiracy lobby have doled out over the years. How many shots does Groden allege? The last I heard he was screaming that sixteen shots had been fired!!

Finally, there was something else that ‘A Simple Act’ touched upon with which I was in total agreement. The author refers to the futility of the many ‘re-enactments’ that have been staged over the years. He laments, “It is difficult, maybe even impossible, to stage re-enactments accurately enough for them to be considered evidentiary.” (p. 134)
He’s right. Any attempt to re-create a unique moment in space and time which relies on so many variables can never be conclusive.
I would recommend this book to any and all readers who accept Oswald’s culpability in the assassination. Mark Fuhrman’s challenge to the received wisdom of the SBC serves as a good reminder that serious readers of the Dallas tragedies should always be prepared to re-examine what they think they know.

Virtue untested is no virtue at all.

Good book. Get a copy.

Barry Ryder

Tony Martin and the Bleak House Tragedy (True Crime Library)
Tony Martin and the Bleak House Tragedy (True Crime Library)
by John Sanders
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The case that enraged a nation., 12 Jun. 2010
Published in 2001, this fine book will give the reader a reliable overview of this controversial case from the time of the burglary and shootings up until Martin had served about 15 months of his life term.

Sanders narrates the events at Martin's home and provides the crucial 'history' that lay behind this explosive event, the fall-out from which still reverberates today.

The author makes no bones about where his sympathies lie - squarely with Martin in his appalling predicament and, moreover, with the overwhelming groundswell of public opinion that erupted when Martin was charged and later convicted of murder.

The latter part of the book is devoted to discussions about the many issues which this case highlighted: Police funding, its 'political mandate', the media's reporting, the faults and flaws of the judicial system and, not least, what constitutes 'reasonable force' in the face of confrontation and Martin's 'mandatory' life sentence.

The case of Tony Martin still had a long way to go at the time that this book was published so there is no 'ending' here, but it's a very good introduction to a case that will have great relevance for us all for many years to come.

Great work by John Sanders.


A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK's Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History: Jim Garrison, JFK's Assassination and the Case That Should Have Changed History
A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK's Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History: Jim Garrison, JFK's Assassination and the Case That Should Have Changed History
Price: £14.72

1.0 out of 5 stars Joan's farewell to common sense, 8 Jun. 2010
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Jim Garrison lost his case against Clay Shaw way back in 1969. His 'investigation' had lasted 28 months, the trial lasted for just over one month and the jury returned its 'not guilty' verdict in under one hour.

Garrison, his staff and many acolytes never got over it. They had their day in court and lost. One of the many acolytes who has agonised over this humiliating defeat ever since, is the author of this book - Joan Mellen. 'A Farewell To Justice' is suffused with Mellen's frustration, anger and paranoia.

This book is her attempt to explain and excuse Garrison's defeat. It's an embarrassingly feeble and dishonest attempt.
In a nutshell, she blames legions of characters - many of whom were only tangentially involved in the 'investigation' - for the courtroom disaster. Mellen's two main protagonists - Jack Martin and Thomas Beckham - weren't even called by Garrison as witnesses!

All and sundry are branded as 'CIA assets' who were tasked with subverting justice. Mellen's own fanaticism and confirmation-bias permeates every page. She embraces every quack and lunatic who ever insinuated themselves into 'the case', whilst branding those who cared and fought for justice 'liars'.

Mellen declares that Garrison " himself by deciding not to call any witness who had been in trouble with the law" (p. 299). That's not true.
Garrison called Vernon Bundy. Bundy had pleaded guilty to theft on May 25th, 1966. Joan Mellen believes that Bundy's "..criminal record was minor.."(p148). She writes that, ""On the stand, Vernon Bundy, despite his understandable unwillingness to acknowledge that he had been convicted of stealing from a cigarette machine,." (p. 304).
Bundy didn't steal from a cigarette machine. He stole the machine along with its contents of cigarettes and cash! He was convicted but was allowed to remain free on five years parole. He violated the conditions of his licence and went to jail. It was whilst there that he first wrote to the court 'offering his services' in Garrison's 'investigation'.

For readers who are unfamiliar with the byzantine convolutions of Garrison's rampage, this book may seem to offer food for thought. For those who know better, 'A Farewell To Justice' reads as the pathetic tantrum of a woman who can't deal with reality and is hell-bent on changing it.
The inexperienced reader should bear in mind that at the time of the book's publication (2005), Joan Mellen was a professor of English and creative writing at Temple University. There's plenty of 'creative writing' to be found between the covers of 'A Farewell To Justice'.
Unfortunately, there's some writing that's worse than 'creative' - it's dishonest.

On page 356 she writes, " Shaw, the [House Select] Committee decided was "possibly one of the high level planners, or 'cut out' to the planners of the assassination."
That's not true. The HSCA 'decided' no such thing. The words that Mellen quotes were not those of the HSCA. Those were the beliefs of Jim Garrison! Mellen has deceptively presented the words of a report written by Jonathan Blackmer as being a 'decision' of the HSCA. They weren't. Blackmer had written what Garrison alleged during an interview, not what the HSCA 'decided'.

Mellen's creative mind is shown at it's most ludicrous on page 206. Here she writes of Rose Cherami:

"On Friday, November 22nd, at twenty minutes before noon, Rose was watching television in the hospital recreation area . Scenes in Dallas flashed on the screen. President Kennedy was on his way.
"Somebody's got to do something!" Rose shouted. "They're going to kill the president!" No one paid any attention The motorcade pulled into view. "Watch!" Rose cried out. "This is when it's going to happen! They're going to get him! They're going to get him at the underpass!
"POW!" Rose yelled as the shots rang out."

Mellen offers no source for this incredible scene, because there isn't one. The assassination wasn't televised 'live' so Cherami couldn't possibly have seen it and provided such a commentary! Cherami was a lady beset with all manner of mental health issues but nobody ever attributed her with the gift of 'remote viewing'. Nobody except Mellen, that is.

Readers who are looking for a detailed analysis of the trial itself won't find it here. Mellen devotes very little time and space to the scene of Garrison's demise. She also finds it helpful to avoid any and all trial testimony; that's right. None of the telling court-room exchanges are featured verbatim in 'A Farewell To Justice'. Mellen's selective re-telling of what happened is the only thing on offer.

A typical example of the author's selectivity is how she fails to discuss James Hardiman, a postman who was called as a witness by the State. This man blundered very badly on the stand. On cross examination, he assured Dymond that he'd delivered mail to two people who didn't even exist! Dymond had trapped him and his credibility hit the courtroom floor with a sickening thud. The author doesn't want to talk about Mr Hardiman.

Garrison's star witness, Perry Russo, hardly features in Mellen's account of the trial proceedings. His absurd story is all but air-brushed from Mellen's sanitized history. There's a reason for this, of course; his story was a lie from beginning to end. He made-up half of it himself and had the other half 'suggested' to him by the prosecution team whilst he was drugged and hypnotised.

In short, this is a ridiculous book. Garrison lost his case because it was fraudulent. His witnesses and 'evidence' were not believed by the jury.
For readers who might wish to know the truth about Garrison and his persecution of Clay Shaw (and many others), the books 'Plot Or Politics' by James & Wardlaw, 'The Garrison Case' by Milton Brener, 'American Grotesque' by James Kirkwood and 'False Witness' by Patricia Lambert will illuminate the darkness.

'On The Trail Of The Assassins' by Garrison himself and the movie 'JFK' made by Oliver Stone won't help. They're every bit as fraudulent as 'A Farewell To Justice'.


A Climate of Fear: Blakelock Murder and the Tottenham Three
A Climate of Fear: Blakelock Murder and the Tottenham Three
by David Rose
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars when the wheels came off, 2 Jun. 2010
This book isn't a particularly edifying read, unfortunately.

The author has looked long and hard at this dreadful episode and has produced a book that will challenge the reader to revisit a time and place when 'community cohesion' failed catastrophically.

Rose offers up a picture of a police force that was unsure of its 'political mandate', tactically confused and poorly apprised of 'intelligence' on the ground. It has to be said, too, that a significant number of the officers involved were racist and their 'one-size-fits-all' approach to the situation and suspects was never going to get to the truth of who killed Blakelock and seriously wounded Coombes.

In its way, this book challenges the reader in much the way that Chris Mullins' examination of the Birmingham Six case did. Paul Foot's 'Murder At The Farm' is similar, too.

This book makes for some uncomfortable reading but, all-in-all Rose does a pretty good job of presenting an episode that we ought not forget in a serious and fair way.


The Encyclopaedia of Executions
The Encyclopaedia of Executions
by John J. Eddleston
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book that nobody wants to be in!, 29 May 2010
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Despite its bleak cover and foreboding title, this really is a great book.

It's not exactly bed-time reading; much more a useful reference volume.

The author has done a fine job in listing all of the judicial hangings that were carried out in the UK during the last 64 years of capital punishment.

From the most famous cases to virtually unheard of murders, they are all here. The dramatic and the mundane. The miscarriages and the `bang-to-rights'.

Each entry has a detailed outline of the crime and trial - this isn't merely a catalogue. The author has researched plenty of background and each case can be seen for what it was.

There seem to be a large number of - what we would call today - 'domestics', which is particularly sad.

On an entirely personal note; my special interest was in one case of the 1950's. My Dad was actually arrested as a suspect in that murder! Eventually the police got the right man and my Dad was cleared! He was used as a witness for the prosection at the trial. The hapless murderer was hanged and he`s here within these pages. Had things not gone the way they did I might not be here writing this now.

Great book for all armchair sleuths - and local historians, too, I would think.


Oswald's Politics
Oswald's Politics
by W. O'Brien Gary W. O'Brien
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.63

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars another brick in the wall to understanding Oswald, 24 May 2010
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This review is from: Oswald's Politics (Paperback)
This outstanding book would be a welcome addition to any 'JFK assassination' bookshelf.

Building on earlier works which examined Lee Oswald in detail, this 2010 study by Gary O' Brien analyses Oswald's politics and adds another brick to the wall in understanding the young man who wrote himself into history in 1963.

The author holds a PhD in political science and, therefore, the reader can enjoy his analysis with a high degree of confidence.

O' Brien's exploration of the political climate in which Oswald grew and developed his own, unique agenda makes for some very interesting reading.

The text runs to 371 pages the latter half of which comprises of five extensive appendices. These cover Oswald's political essays, his letters, press interviews that he gave, a short lecture that he delivered and the radio transcripts of his interviews on WDSU.

Much of that material is covered in Diane Holloway's excellent 'The Mind Of Oswald', of course.

I enjoyed this book immensely and I'm sure that if you have an interest in Lee Harvey Oswald and the Kennedy and Tippit murders, you will to.

Finally, this book is not a 'conspiracy book'. This is strictly 'real-world'. If you hold the belief that Oswald's left-wing posture was 'false' and was only a cover for his true 'loyal marine/CIA operative' position - as Garrison and others had foolishly maintained - O' Brien's study will be of no interest to you.


Let Me Take You Down: Inside The Mind Of Mark David Chapman, The Man Who Shot John Lennon: Inside the Mind of Mark David Chapman - Man Who Shot John Lennon
Let Me Take You Down: Inside The Mind Of Mark David Chapman, The Man Who Shot John Lennon: Inside the Mind of Mark David Chapman - Man Who Shot John Lennon
by Jack Jones
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars happiness was a warm gun, 23 May 2010
In many ways this book is really Mark Chapman 'in his own words'.

The author's interviews and correspondence with Lennon's killer affords the reader a genuine 'first-hand' account of the emotional 'car-wreck' that was Mark Chapman.

Rooted in religion, drugs, obsession, Satanism and depression, Chapman comes across as an accident waiting to happen.

Jones has written a very good book here; he simply offers up the innermost thoughts and writings of one of the most vilified murderers of recent times.

The author includes some key input that was provided by many of the health professionals who examined Chapman and sought to understand him and his deed. It's dark, fascinating stuff.

So why did he do it? This book will get you pretty close to understanding why.

Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 24, 2010 8:13 AM BST

Killer on the Loose
Killer on the Loose
by Mike Fielder
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars very good book!, 20 May 2010
This review is from: Killer on the Loose (Paperback)
Mike Fielder's 1994 book chronicles the story of the Rachel Nickell murder investigation.

The author's account begins with Rachel's ghastly murder in '92 and climaxes with Colin Stagg being released by Judge Ogden in '94 - before ever facing a jury.

Older readers will remember the case well. Many will have felt that Stagg had cheated justice 'on a technicality'. But, as time has proven, he didn't. He was and is innocent of Rachel's murder. The many developments that have occurred since Fielder's book was first published have exonerated both Stagg and the trial judge.

To his credit, the author does manage to remain largely objective and impartial throughout. Because of his proximity to the horror of the crime and it's dreadful effect on those closest to the victim, he clearly did develop views of his own; only occasionally do these seep through into the narrative.

It's a sobering book but well worth the read.


God Hates You, Hate Him Back: Making Sense of the Bible (Revised International Edition)
God Hates You, Hate Him Back: Making Sense of the Bible (Revised International Edition)
by CJ Werleman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.95

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ah, freethought and honesty!, 6 May 2010
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I loved this book to bits!

It's everything that 'Scriptural Criticism' should be - sassy, irreverent, funny and accurate.

If you are an atheist (as I am) you won't find anything new in this book as it hoists 'The Good Book' on its own petard. What you will find is a deliciously witty writing style. There are plenty of 'typos' and loads of poor grammar but that doesn't matter; even the finest leather has flaws in it.

The Bible can be attacked from many directions, of course, and C. J. Werleman doesn't approach his task with the profundity of a Stenger, Grayling or Berg. Not for this author the finer philosophical arguments.

Werleman examines the bare text as-it-stands and isn't incumbered by 'reverence', 'awe' or 'humility. This approach allows him to take the Bible at its word and challenge it on its own terms.

This book would be an ideal gift for the 'nominal' Christian in your life. You know, those folk who 'think' that they are C of E but who have never actually read the Bible.

Werleman's down-to-earth treatment of the bronze-age compendium of clap-trap that has shaped, ruined and cost so many lives is just the sort of thing that might succeed in getting the wishy-washy, cafeteria Christian types to admit that there is a great deal wrong with the foundation stone of their faith.

Well done C. J. and dangerous little books. More of the same, please

Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 9, 2015 7:21 PM GMT

Kennedy and Lincoln: Medical and Ballistic Comparisons of Their Assassinations
Kennedy and Lincoln: Medical and Ballistic Comparisons of Their Assassinations
by John K. Lattimer
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Thirty years old and still bright as a button!, 27 April 2010
This wonderful (1980) book is a real boon for readers who are interested in both the Lincoln and John Kennedy assassinations.

The author writes with great knowledge and understanding on both historic murders. He compares and contrasts the ballistic and medical evidence of the two shootings and the whole book is lavishly illustrated with photographs and diagrams.

For this reviewer, the Lincoln assassination was not the main interest - the Kennedy killing was.
Coming barely two years after the HSCA had affirmed the conclusions of the Warren Commission, The Ramsay Clarke Panel and the Rockerfeller Commission, Lattimer's book really did put to rest any lingering 'conspiracy' doubts that I had.

His impeccable medical background lends this book real heavyweight credibility. Unlike any other author before him, he formulated and conducted practical experiments to test some of the most contentious issues raised by the 'research' and 'conspiracy' writers.

In the thirty years since this book's publication only a few others have come close to matching Lattimer's scholarly work.

If you see a copy anywhere - grab it!

You'll love yourself forever!


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