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Barry Ryder "Barry Ryder" (London)

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Murder at the Farm: Who Killed Carl Bridgewater? (Review special)
Murder at the Farm: Who Killed Carl Bridgewater? (Review special)
by Paul Foot
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but..., 16 Jun. 2012
The indomitable Paul Foot chronicles the disturbing Carl Bridgewater murder and its subsequent investigation and discusses the many and various twists and turns that this notorious case went through.

Written is his trade-mark crusading style, the late author offers up heaps of `reasonable doubt'.
In 1997, of course, Jimmy Robinson along with Vincent and Michael Hickey were freed. Pat Molly had died whilst serving his sentence.

This book leans heavily on the lack of crime-scene evidence against the four and, just as heavily, on the disputed confessions of Molloy and Vincent. At various stages of the imquiry the men had variously named each other as participants in the murder and then gone on to retract the accusations.
Foot also examines many of the `verbals' that were offered by all manner of dubious characters against the four and crucial alibi witnesses whose testimony casts doubt on the prosecution's case.
From its earliest days, the investigation had become very messy and the accused were largely responsible for that.

By the end of the book (and having seen other material) I was satisfied that the convictions were `unsafe'. Without the vital crime-scene evidence, the combine stories of all concerned did little to merit four convictions. The men were rightly freed.

Foot invites the reader to consider Hubert Spencer as the true murderer of young Carl. In this I cannot agree at all. There is no evidence what-so-ever that Spencer - who did kill a man with a shotgun, just as Carl had been killed - had anything to do with the Yew Tree Farm tragedy.

Foot always did argue his cases well and with great passion. In this, `Murder At The Farm' succeeds admirably. There never was sufficient evidence to convict the four as Foot maintained.
But, as far as this reader is concerned, Spencer most assuredly didn't commit the crime either.

So what's the answer..?

I think that there is one..

Comment Comments (14) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 14, 2016 2:42 PM BST

National Nightmare on Six Feet of Film: Mr. Zapruder's Home Movie And the Murder of President Kennedy
National Nightmare on Six Feet of Film: Mr. Zapruder's Home Movie And the Murder of President Kennedy
by Richard B. Trask
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book of the film, 15 April 2012
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This fine 2005 book by Richard Trask relates the remarkable story of the iconic Zapruder film from the moment that Mr. `Z' pressed the `start' button on his camera in 1963 up until 1997 when The Sixth Floor Museum became the final custodians of it.

Trask chronicles the key, initial hours as the film is developed, printed, copied and viewed for the very first time. He stays hot on the trail as two of those very first copies head off to Washington for analysis whilst Mr Z begins to realise what an incredible scoop he has made.

The film's sale to Life Magazine is well covered as is the Warren Commission's use of the film during its deliberations.

The author spends a little time discussing how the `research community' obtained the film and how `bootlegged' copies were soon being shown on college campuses all over the country.

The reader will find a very useful chapter which deals with the `alterationist' schism within the `research community' and what they believe about the film. Trask contrasts this viewpoint with those of the `authentic' section and, most importantly, what the real photographic experts say.

The book has plenty of black-and-white plates and some good colour ones as well.
At times some of the discussion and analysis of film development processes and camera mechanics can seem a little arcane for those (such as I) who are 'technophobes', but overall, this is a fine book about a fascinating subject.

If you already have a copy of the MPI DVD, `Image Of An Assassination', this would be an ideal companion to it.


The Manchester Affair
The Manchester Affair
by John Corry
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book of the book, 1 April 2012
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This review is from: The Manchester Affair (Hardcover)
John Corry's 1967 examination of the `William Manchester' affair seeks to shed light on the behind-the-scenes wrangling that, for a while, threatened to deny the world access to 'The Death Of A President' - arguably the bench-mark, historical, volume on the JFK assassination.

After initially requesting that Manchester write the only `officially authorised' version of the days between November 20 - 25, Mrs. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy soon began to regret their decision.

Corry delves deep into the early exchanges between JBK, RFK and William Manchester as he seeks to discover what lay at the heart of the growing disquiet.
Neither JBK nor JBK were reading the early drafts, but were inviting family loyalists to examine what Manchester had written. It seems that it was these 'appointed readers' who were spotting passages and quotes that they thought would reflect badly on the Kennedy family.

Things go from bad to worse as each side accuses the other of misunderstanding the wordings used in early written agreements and soon lawyers are entering the fray.

Corry retains his focus as the controversy threatens to spiral out of control and, eventually, both sides agree on some deletions and alterations.

So, what were the 'issues' that Manchester tackled that the family found so objectionable? Well, I won't spoil anyone's potential reading enjoyment but, I will say that the 'issues' were remarkably minor and, in this reader's opinion, the 'controversy' amounted to little more than the Kennedy family seeking to micro-manage 'Death Of A President' and its writer.

Well done John Corry.


The Beatles: The Authorised Biography
The Beatles: The Authorised Biography
by Hunter Davies
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab for Fab-Four fans!, 28 Mar. 2012
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This is the only `official authorised biography' of the Beatles and, as such, has some wonderful advantages over other studies.

All the key personalities get to have their say; friends and family as well as professional contacts. Mums and Dads, brothers and sisters, Aunt Mimi and, even, Freddie Lennon are all here.

Davies deals honestly with the Sutcliffe and Best matters and he makes no attempt to make excuses for our heroes as they behaved so badly toward two young men who were crucial to the band's early development. (There's a whole chapter devoted to `Decca And Pete Best').

The book moves chronologically from the earliest days up to 1968. By then the touring was over and the band were peaking as a truly innovative musical force in the studio.

My own (2009) edition has a 'postscript' which Davies penned in `85 and brought things up to date at that point.

For fans of the Beatles this book is pretty much indispensable.
Depending what you want to know about the most influential music-group of all time, this book may well be all that you'll ever need.
For fans who want to know more about the music that the Beatles created and how they did it, `Revolution In The Head' by Ian MacDonald would make an ideal companion read to this book by Davies.


Special Unit Senator : The Investigation Of The Assassination Of Senator Robert F. Kennedy
Special Unit Senator : The Investigation Of The Assassination Of Senator Robert F. Kennedy
by Robert A. Houghton
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Crucial introduction to the RFK murder, 14 Mar. 2012
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This 1970 publication is absolutely indispensable for readers who are interested in the murder of Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968.

Written by Robert A. Houghton (with journalistic assistance from Ted Taylor) this tells the inside story of the creation and work of `Special Unit Senator' - the group that was tasked with the investigation of RFK's assassination. Houghton - of the LAPD - headed-up SUS and his access to all of the evidence and files that were generated provides the reader with an un-matched, first-hand account of how Sirhan Sirhan was captured, interrogated, charged and, ultimately convicted.

Along with much else, this remarkable book chronicles the huge task that SUS undertook in seeking to discover if Sirhan and his act could be linked to any co-conspirators. It really is an amazing story, full of hoax-leads, mistaken witnesses and a great deal of plain, old police 'footwork'.

Later books by Dan Moldea and Mel Ayton have been able to bring the story up-to-date and both frequently cite from this vital publication.

For readers who have a genuine interest in the historical and legal truth of RFK's murder - rather than a desire to wallow in a murky pool of conspiracy mud - this book, along with the diligent works of the aforementioned Moldea and Ayton is required reading.


20 Years in the Secret Service; My Life With Five Presidents
20 Years in the Secret Service; My Life With Five Presidents
by Rufus W. Youngblood
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A first-rate, first-hand memoir, 29 Feb. 2012
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Published in 1973, this book is crammed with the sort of insight and anecdote that only the best autobiographies can muster.

The author's twenty years of service included field-work, White House duties and Presidential protection.

Most readers will be familiar with Youngblood's swift actions in the fateful Dallas motorcade in which JFK was killed but, there is much here that will be largely unknown about the man and his work.

Contrasting the tragedy of Dallas, the author offers quite a few very funny moments. The image of him pushing a stalled car whilst his captive was handcuffed inside and steering is genuinely comic.

For readers who have read Gerald Blaine's, `The Kennedy Detail', this important volume would make a great `companion read'.


ZR Rifle: Plot to Kill Kennedy and Castro
ZR Rifle: Plot to Kill Kennedy and Castro
by Claudia Furiati
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No evidence? No problem! Just write anyway!, 22 Feb. 2012
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This 1994 book comes across as little more than a belated and unnecessary attempt by the author to distance Castro and Cuba from Lee Oswald - JFK and Tippit's murderer.
Furiati has rather 'over-egged-the-pudding' here. She doesn't simply take the opportunity to show that Oswald wasn't encouraged by Havana (which is not in dispute), she cannot resist the moment to allege that Oswald was a 'patsy' set up by the CIA. Hardly an earth-shattering allegation in '94, was it?

My alarm bells were ringing by the end of the second sentence of the introduction. Furiati writes, "..I stood perplexed in the doorway of the Roxy Cinema. I had just seen the movie `JFK'.."

Perplexed, Claudia? I'll bet you were.

Furiati spends plenty of time discussing the characters and projects that were tasked with killing Castro. For the most part, her writing is accurate. Most folks have known and accepted the CIA's role in seeking to 'remove' Castro at the behest of various presidents from Eisenhower onwards since Drew Pearson blew-the-gaffe in '75.

So what evidence does the author offer to support her contention that the ZR-rifle programme was used to kill JFK? None.
This book simply throws names and allegations about like so much mud in the hope that some will stick.

At the end of the book, Furiati reproduces a Q&A that she conducted with Fabian Escalante. He, of course, is a former head of Cuban State Security. Escalante has always had much to say about Oswald and the assassination of JFK. Unsurprisingly, he thinks - or rather, he wants the reader to think - that The CIA were behind the assassination.

Unfortunately, Escalante places great store by people such as Oliver Stone, Mark Lane, Roger Craig and Jim Garrison.


The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev 1960-1963
The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev 1960-1963
by Michael R. Beschloss
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Great book by a great historian, 17 Jan. 2012
Published in 1991, this was the third book written by Michael Beschloss. As with his previous two, he again demonstrates his wonderful grasp on the history of the Cold War period, it's characters - central and peripheral - and the events.

The author frames this book within the `60-'64 years and he uses the lives and careers of Kennedy and Khrushchev to explore this dramatic period in 20th century history.

Historians are only as good as their sources and in this regard, Michael Beschloss can be confidently described as impeccably grounded. His own interviews and his mastery of the written record assures the reader that this book is reliable and authoritative.

For readers who have an interest in this period and the events of Laos, Berlin, Vienna, Vietnam, Cuba and Dallas, this book will advance and enhance her understanding enormously.

Great history by a great historian.

Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 19, 2012 6:42 PM GMT

Arabian Nightmare
Arabian Nightmare
by Richard Arnot
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No murder and no cover-up; but a dreadful accident., 1 Dec. 2011
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Richard Arnot's `Arabian Nightmare' is his account of the deaths of English nurse Helen Smith and Dutchman Johannes Otten.

Arnot and his wife Penny hosted the party in Jeddah in 1979, during which Smith and Otten fell to their deaths from a sixth-floor balcony.

This case spawned a whole host of `conspiracy theories' and `cover-up scenario's' largely because Smith's (understandably) distraught father, Ron, could not accept that his daughter's death had been accidental.

The bulk of the book is taken up with the author's time in a Saudi prison. It's not quite as bad as `Midnight Express', but it was certainly no picnic either.
Arnot describes how he and his fellow party-guests were treated and how he and they constantly got mixed messages from the Saudi authorities and their own Embassy's - one minute they were being told that their detention would only be brief and the next, they were hearing that the Saudi's were treating the deaths as murders.
Arnot relates the emotional roller-coaster that seemed to go on for ever.

The story finally sees the release of all concerned and, thankfully, the Saudi's were ultimately satisfied that no foul-play had occurred. They were bent on punishing the group for their consumption of alcohol, though. Fortunately the public lashings that were imposed were never carried out.

The book moves to it's close as Richard Arnot and his wife finally part and both seek to re-start their lives, he in Australia and she in the USA.

The climax of the book comes as Ron Smith finally gets a UK public inquest into his daughter's death and Arnot attends.
It is now a matter of public record that the inquest returned an `open verdict' so Smith didn't get the `unlawful killing' decision that he had set out for; Arnot didn't get the `accidental death' verdict that he would have preferred, either.

Some readers may find this book to be disappointing and anti-climactic because the author doesn't dissect and analyse the events of the fateful party in huge detail. There are two good reasons for this, of course. Firstly, he was asleep in bed when Otten and Smith fell and, secondly, there never was any 'foul-play'. It really was just a tragic accident.
Unlike Paul Foot's book, 'Arabian Nightmare' doesn't seek to imbue this event with any sinister explanation, the book and Arnot's candour deals with the sad reality - Helen and Johannes died accidentally.

Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 7, 2014 6:28 AM BST

Who Killed Hilda Murrell?
Who Killed Hilda Murrell?
by Judith Cook
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Occam's razor is vindicated again, 28 Nov. 2011
Judith Cook's 1985 book posed the question, `Who Killed Hilda Murrell?.

At the time of publication the case was unsolved and ongoing. Cook sought to explore some of the more intriguing facets of the case and - like many others - was soon enmeshed in a `conspiracy theory'.

Murrell's anti-nuclear campaigning seemed to offer a possible motive for the murder. Perhaps she had become an irritant that `the pro-nuclear lobby' felt had to be silenced before she presented her paper to the Sizewell inquiry.
The author postulates another possibility; that Murrell's nephew - Robert Green - may have entrusted 'appropriated' signals and papers to her for safe keeping. Green held high rank in the Navy at the time of the Falkland's war and may have come under suspicions of stealing material that related directly to the sinking of the Belgrano.

Cook explores a string of coincidences and soon pools her findings with MP Tam Dalyell and questions are finally aired in the Commons.

Like all conspiracy theories, this one is long on speculation and very short on evidence.

I was particularly taken by a sentence which appears on the last page of the main text. (The book goes on with a `timeline of events' and Hilda Murrell's paper which was read, after all, at the Sizewell inquiry.)

On page 132, Cook speculates that,
`Nothing more would be heard about the death of Hilda Murrell and, eventually, her file would sink quietly into the category of unsolved murders'.

Well, in this, the author was most assuredly wrong. In May 2005, at Stafford Crown Court, Andrew George - a burglar - was convicted of Murrell's killing.
A 'cold-case review' matched fingerprints and DNA belonging to George with the murder scene.
A reading of the key exchanges at the trial reveal that - just as the police had originally surmised - the seventy-eight-year-old lady was killed and sexually assaulted after returning home and finding the robbery in progress.

The simplest explanation turned out to right all along.

Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 30, 2013 6:51 AM GMT

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