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Martin Hay "Martin Hay" (United Kingdom)

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Edition: Paperback

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The sad truth is that every confusion at the core of ..., 4 April 2015
I can honestly say that Beyond Reasonable Doubt fully lived up to my expectations. I expected that authors Mel Ayton and David Von Pein would add nothing to our understanding of the assassination of President Kennedy, and that is precisely what they did. I expected they would regurgitate the same tired old arguments and trot out the usual roster of long-discredited witnesses, and they did just that. And I expected that they would pontificate on the evils of “conspiracy theorists” at every available opportunity and, lo and behold!, they did.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt is a standard format lone nut book, cut from the same cloth as Reclaiming History, Case Closed, and Conspiracy of One. It spends half its time trying desperately to convince readers that the Warren Commission was right all along and the other half-blaming conspiracy theorists for the confusion. Von Pein suggests in the book's preface that for the last fifty years JFK's murder has been “falsely shrouded in mystery” and those pesky conspiracy theorists are to blame. Which is ridiculous. Conspiracy theorists are not to blame for the Dallas Police Department's mishandling of both its suspect and the physical evidence against him. Nor are they responsible for J. Edgar Hoover's rush to judgement and his decision to limit the FBI's investigation to Lee Harvey Oswald. It was not the conspiracy theorists who illegally removed Kennedy's body from Dallas so that it could be flown to a military hospital where under-qualified and inexperienced pathologists bungled the autopsy. And no mere conspiracy theorist is accountable for crucial autopsy photos, X-rays and even the President's brain being surreptitiously removed from the archive never to be seen again. The sad truth is that every confusion at the core of this case was created by those in officialdom who failed or refused to conduct a proper investigation and chose instead to cover their own butts whilst papering over the holes in the case against Oswald.

To be fair to the authors, it is true that a good number of conspiracy theorists have, as Von Pein puts it, “twisted and misrepresented the evidence” in the Kennedy case. But the exact same thing is true of Warren Commission apologists. Beginning with the Warren Commission who, as historian Gerald McKnight put it, “went through the motions of an investigation that was little more than an improvised exercise in public relations”, the twisting and misrepresenting of evidence in the Kennedy assassination has been carried out by those with an agenda. And Ayton and Von Pein have such a massive agenda that they manage to one-up the Commission by making not even a pretence of objectivity. The authors shamelessly omit important facts contradicting their position whilst promoting any scrap of information that appears to support it without giving consideration to the reliability of its source.

Perhaps the most troubling thing about Beyond Reasonable Doubt is that it tries to push the notion that Lee Harvey Oswald should be treated as guilty until proven innocent. In the final chapter, Ayotn and Von Pein try to outdo the prince of hyperbole, Vincent Bugliosi. The authors actually state their absurd belief that "not a 'scintilla' of evidence has been found which would call into question Lee Harvey Oswald's guilt, beyond all reasonable doubt." Not only is this statement laughably wrong on a factual level, the attitude behind it is one that attempts to turn the American judicial system on its head. Had Oswald lived to face trial, he would have been legally entitled to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. In death, the Warren Commission and its acolytes have attempted to strip him of that right. Yet the cold, hard fact remains that no one has ever come remotely close to proving Oswald's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt—least of all Ayton and Von Pein.

What do the authors offer? They give us the testimony of Howard Brennan; a man who failed to pick Oswald out of a line-up and admitted that his own recollection had been clouded by outside influences. They give us an old, dry palm print and some fibers on the rifle that may or may not have come from a shirt Oswald was probably not wearing at the time of the assassination. And they offer a highly contradicted, uncorroborated, and probably false claim that fragmentary fingerprints on the rifle could be matched to Oswald's prints. In the end, their entire case rests on the dubious claim that the rifle found on the sixth floor belonged to Oswald. Yet assuming that to be true, what does it actually prove? Would it not make sense for someone wishing to set Oswald up to use a rifle traceable to him? The inarguable fact is that Oswald did not have the rifle in his possession for at least two months leading up to November 22, 1963, and nobody can vouch for its whereabouts during that time.

As Former Dallas Police Chief, Jesse Curry, candidly admitted to the Dallas Morning News in 1969, "We don't have any proof that Oswald fired the rifle, and never did. Nobody's yet been able to put him in that building with a gun in his hand." This statement remains as true today as it did in 1969, whether Ayton and Von Pein like it or not. In the words of attorney Jeremy Gunn “...there is just no question that [Lee Harvey Oswald] is not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
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History Will Prove Us Right : Inside the Warren Commission Investigation into the Assassination of John F. Kennedy
History Will Prove Us Right : Inside the Warren Commission Investigation into the Assassination of John F. Kennedy
by Howard P. Willens
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £21.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Whitewash of a Whitewash, 5 Jan. 2014
Nobody likes to admit they were wrong, even on small, trivial issues. So imagine you screwed up - whether by accident or design - something as monumental as the investigation into the murder of the President? How much time do you think would have to pass before you were ready to hold up your hand?

Apparently, for former Warren Commission lawyer Howard Willens, even 50 years is not long enough. Because, despite close to five decades of criticism, Willens remains defiant and unapologetic in his defense of the Commission and its now-defunct conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. And it is not as if that criticism has come entirely from conspiracy "buffs." Far from it. The Commission's findings and methods have been questioned by historians, pathologists, lawyers, district attorneys, state governors, US senators, presidents, and even members of the Commission itself.

For example, in 1979 the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that "The Warren Commission failed to investigate adequately the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President." (HSCA report, p. 256) It went on to say that "the committee found fault with the manner in which the conclusions of the Warren Commission were stated...There were instances, the committee found, in which the conclusions did not accurately reflect the efforts undertaken by the Commission and the evidence before it...the Commission overstated the thoroughness of its investigation and the weight of its evidence in a number of areas, in particular that of the conspiracy investigation...It is a reality to be lamented that the Commission failed to live up to its promise" (Ibid, 259-261). Indeed this failure to do as promised and fully explore the possibility of a conspiracy is the reason why one of the Commission's own members, Senator Richard Russell, later admitted to not being satisfied that Lee Harvey Oswald really had planned and executed the assassination all by himself.

Professor emeritus of history, Gerald McKnight, goes much further in his landmark book, Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why. McKnight describes the Warren Report as "a shoddily improvised political exercise in public relations and not a good-faith investigation into the Kennedy assassination." (McKnight, p. 7) He explains that the Commission "favoured witnesses who strengthened the case for Oswald's guilt and discounted or even suppressed testimony (and evidence) of those who jeopardized the prosecution case the government was building against a dead man." (Ibid, p. 3) McKnight does not just say these things, he proves them over and over again, using the government's own records almost exclusively.

Willens is having none of it. He dedicates his book "To my colleagues on the staff of the Warren Commission who knew that Truth was their only client". And he insists, presumably with a straight face, that "In the nearly fifty years since the report was published in 1964, not one fact has emerged that undercuts the main conclusions of the commission that Oswald was the assassin and that there is no credible evidence that either he or Ruby was part of a larger conspiracy." (Willens, p. 11)

This is patently absurd. After careful study of the Warren report and its 26 volumes of hearing and evidence, first generation critics like Harold Weisberg, Mark Lane, and Sylvia Meagher proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that the evidence before the Commission undermined, contradicted, and flat-out disproved its central conclusions. That was over 40 years ago and the Commission's conclusions do not look any better today.

There is a word for Willens's stance: denial. Quite frankly, Willens needs to step up and admit that the world is round.

At the time of the assassination, Howard Willens was a lawyer in the Justice Department's criminal division. After President Lyndon Johnson announced that he was putting a Commission together, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach hand-picked Willens to "help the commission get up and running." (Ibid) This is significant because Katzenbach made his own objectives abundantly clear within hours of Oswald's murder on November 25, 1963. "The public must be satisfied", he wrote in his now infamous memo to Bill Moyers, "that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large, and that the evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial." He also suggested that "speculation about Oswald's motivation ought to be cut off" and that the government should rebut "thought that this was a Communist conspiracy or...a right-wing conspiracy to blame it on the Communists."

In other words, the buck stops with Oswald. This was long before the facts of the case had been established. On November 25th the authorities did not have a single credible eyewitness against Oswald, had not yet "found" his print on the rifle, and had performed a nitrate test that indicated he had not fired the weapon. It had not even been established that Oswald was the gunman let alone that there was no conspiracy. Clearly, the real solution to the crime mattered very little to Katzenbach.

When Katzenbach picked Willens for the job, one can assume he trusted Willens would not rock the boat. And his own actions suggest that Willens did not want to disappoint. As he writes, "Beginning on December 20, 1963, I devoted the next three weeks to assisting [J. Lee] Rankin in getting the commission staffed and organized." (p. 37) But Willens did not look for brilliant, independent-minded, professional investigators as would be expected in a genuine pursuit of the truth. He brought in a bunch of Ivy League lawyers; men whose skills lay not in investigating, but in assembling a case. Which, of course, suited the desires of Katzenbach and the Commission perfectly, since they intended to rely on the FBI and other federal agencies to supply the evidence while they put the correct spin on it for their report.

What's more, the men Willens picked were mostly business or corporate lawyers. One staff member, Burt Griffin, admitted later on that when he arrived in Washington he "was struck by how few of his new colleagues had been prosecutors or had any other experience in law enforcement." (Philip Shenon, A Cruel and Shocking Act, p. 124) This only got worse when several members of the staff left before the work was done. With a report yet to be finished, Willens brought in men with virtually no legal experience at all. One of these, Murray Lauchlit, began working for the Commission the day after he received his diploma! (Ibid, p. 404) Did Willens really think this staff was up to the task of solving the assassination? Or were they picked because they would most likely fulfill Katzenbach's objectives?

History Will Prove Us Right is a whitewash of a whitewash that seeks to undermine long-established truths about the Commission's aims and methodology. Willens writes, "The repeated claim by critics that the White House, a federal agency, or unspecified powerful forces influenced the extent of the commission's investigation or the content of its report is simply false." (Willens, p. 266) In order to make this seem plausible, he has to distort or omit reams of relevant information - including the aforementioned memo written by his boss, Nicholas Katzenbach, from which he avoids quoting at all costs.

To me, the way in which Willens deals with Earl Warren's acquiescence to chair the Commission is a perfect example of his desire to hide, and unwillingness to confront, the evidence that casts serious doubt on his claims. It is well known that Warren did not want to take the job, but gave in after President Johnson called him to the White House. In Willens's account of their meeting, there is no mention of the way in which the Chief Justice was reportedly brought to tears by LBJ's dire warning that millions of lives were in jeopardy. Johnson later reported telling Warren, "Now these wild people are chargin' Khrushchev killed Kennedy, and Castro killed Kennedy." He then raised the possibility that if the American public came to believe this story, they might call for a retaliation that could lead to a nuclear exchange with the Soviets. "If Khrushchev moved on us", he said, "he could kill 39 million in an hour, and we could kill 100 million in his country in an hour. You could be speaking for 39 million people." (Shenon, p. 60-61) Understandably, these words had a profound effect on Warren who, according to historian David Wrone, "From the day he assumed chairmanship of the Commission until the day of his death...firmly believed that a Soviet conspiracy had assassinated President John F. Kennedy." (Wrone, The Zapruder Film, p. 245) So, understanding his duty was to take a Soviet conspiracy out of the equation, Warren agreed to take the chair.

On January 20, 1964, Warren held his first meeting with the Commission staff. There, he impressed upon them the seriousness of the situation, restating LBJ's concerns. The contents of the meeting were recorded in a revealing memo written by staff member Melvin Eisenberg:

"After brief introductions, the Chief Justice discussed the circumstances under which he had accepted the chairmanship of the Commission...The President stated that rumors of the most exaggerated kind were circulating in this country and overseas. Some rumors went so far as attributing the assassination to a faction within the Government wishing to see the Presidency assumed by President Johnson. Others, if not quenched, could conceivably lead the country into a war which could cost 40 million lives. No one would refuse to do something which might help prevent such a possibility. The President convinced him that this was an occasion on which actual conditions had to override general principles."

Perhaps the key sentence in this memo is the one about it being "an occasion on which actual conditions had to override general principles." As historian Jim DiEugenio asked, "How could the message be made any clearer to a bunch of Yale, Stanford, and Harvard law school graduates? The threat of 40 million dead was going to take precedence over the general legal principles he had espoused." (DiEugenio, Reclaiming Parkland, p. 254-253). Willens hides all of this from his readers. And because he does not disclose Warren's reasons for accepting the chairmanship, Willens does not have to explain just who it was that got LBJ worried about a conspiracy involving Krushchev and Castro. It was the CIA.

The echoes of gunfire in Dealey Plaza had barely stopped ringing when the CIA began a campaign to lay the blame for the assassination at Castro's feet through the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (DRE) - an anti-Castro Cuban exile group the Agency funded. According to journalist Jefferson Morley, "the DRE was perhaps the single biggest and most active organization opposing Fidel Castro's regime." CIA veteran George Joannides "was giving the leaders of the group up to $25,000 a month in cash for what he described as 'intelligence collection' and 'propaganda.'" (Morley, The Man Who Didn't Talk and Other Tales from the New Kennedy Assassination Files.) The DRE was known to have had contact with Oswald during the summer of 1963. Within hours of his arrest on November 22, a representative of the group telephoned Clair Booth Luce (wife of TIME magazine publisher, Henry Luce), to tell her that Oswald was part of a hit team organized by Castro. The DRE then assembled a package for the media which included photographs of Oswald and Castro under the heading "Presumed Assassins." Thus, as Mark Lane noted, "it was the CIA and Joannides that paid for, organized and published the very first conspiracy theory about the assassination" (Lane, Last Word, p. 234).

Having planted a seed in the press, the CIA turned its attention to the White House. On Saturday, November 23, LBJ met twice with CIA director John McCone who briefed him about Oswald's alleged visit to Mexico City two months earlier. Based on information sent to headquarters by the CIA's Mexico City station, McCone reported that Oswald had been in contact with Soviet consular Valery Kostikov, whom, it was alleged, was an expert in assassinations. Shaking Johnson up some more, the CIA followed this up on Monday, November 25, with a cablegram from Mexico City Station Chief Winston Scott, who claimed to have uncovered evidence that Castro, with Soviet support, had paid Oswald to kill Kennedy. (McKnight, p. 24 & 66-67) The effect these stories from the CIA had on Johnson cannot be overstated since he was already of a paranoid disposition. According to Kennedy military aide, General Godfrey McHugh, LBJ was already crying about a plot to "get us all" before Air Force One had even left Dallas on the afternoon of the assassination. And there seems little doubt that Johnson was convinced by the CIA reports, because years later, he said to ABC News anchorman Thomas K. Smith, "I'll tell you something that will rock you. Kennedy was trying to get to Castro, but Castro got to him first." (Shenon, p. 526)

When we take all of the information above and put it together, it paints a fairly clear picture. The CIA fed false information to the press and the White House, blaming Castro for the assassination. A terrified Johnson balked at the idea of retaliation that might lead to a nuclear confrontation with the Soviets and so appointed Earl Warren to chair a Commission that would ensure the blame rested squarely on Oswald's shoulders. Warren, in turn, tacitly explained to the Commission's staff at its very first meeting the perceived severity of the situation and just what was expected of them. Consequently, as McKnight puts it, "the Warren Commission went through the motions of an investigation that was little more than an improvised exercise in public relations." (McKnight, p. 361) Little wonder, then, that Willens leaves all of these details out of his book.
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Excalibur Visionaries: Alan Davis Volume 1 TPB (Graphic Novel Pb)
Excalibur Visionaries: Alan Davis Volume 1 TPB (Graphic Novel Pb)
by Alan Davis
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criminally Underrated, 27 Mar. 2011
Co-creator of Excalibur, Chris Claremont, is one of my all-time favourite comic-book writers so it pains me to admit it but he made a real mess of a very promising series. When Claremont first put Excalibur together - in collaboration with the brilliant and often overlooked British artist Alan Davis - it looked set to be an instant classic. But after the first half dozen or so issues, things quickly began to deteriorate. By the time the multi-part (read bloated and tedious) "Cross-Time Caper" came to an uninteresting end with issue 24 many readers could have been forgiven for having given up on the book altogether. And as hard as it was to believe things only got worse before Claremont, who was either unable or unwilling to bring his ideas to fruition, left dozens of plotlines hanging when he finally left the series at issue 34. And so it was left to Alan Davis - who had himself departed with issue 24 - to clear up the mess when he returned as both writer and penciller with issue 42. Not only did Davis do a remarkable job of resolving the plotline issues and answering all the unanswered questions, he did it with style, panache and a uniquely British sense of humor. In the process he crafted what is in my opinion one of the finest, most entertaining, and criminally underrated comic-book runs of the '90s. Thanks to Davis Excalibur was - for all too brief a time - one of the very best titles out there. If you missed it the first time around you should put this collected edition in your shopping basket right now; you won't be sorry!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 4, 2011 10:47 PM BST

Reclaiming History: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
Reclaiming History: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
by Vincent Bugliosi
Edition: Hardcover

22 of 47 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rewriting History, 11 May 2009
Reclaiming History made me laugh; out loud. Not when author Vincent Bugliosi was attempting to be humorous by making one of his numerous sneering, sarcastic remarks at the expense of those who dare to believe that John F. Kennedy's murder was the result of conspiracy. But when he was being sincere. A few pages into his lengthy introduction, Bugliosi writes, "...the [Warren] Commission's conduct throughout the investigation clearly shows that its members only had one objective, to discover the truth of what happened." Ludicrous! In the face of the massive documentary record we now have at our disposal proving the exact opposite to be true, it is completely ridiculous for Bugliosi to make that statement in this millennium. But he does say it, and he apparently expects us to take his word for it. This type of attitude, "I'm right because I say I am and my saying so proves it" can be seen throughout his tedious 1600 page tome. It is neither entertaining nor enlightening.

[For those who are truly interested in how the commission operated and why it arrived at the conclusions it did, the authoritative work was written by respected historian Gerald D. McKnight; Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why - a book that Bugliosi lists in his bibliography but either did not read or failed to comprehend]

But Bugliosi makes clear from the outset, indeed from his presumptuous title, that apologising for the Warren Commission is not the only purpose of his book. Its primary intention is to silence the critics or, as he likes to call them, "conspiracy buffs." Bugliosi writes that "the majority" of conspiracy theorists, "knowingly mislead their readers by lies, omissions and deliberately distorting the official record." He also claims that when confronted with contradictory evidence, the critics resort to one of two tactics, either "twist, warp and distort the evidence" or "simply ignore it." These are strong and in some cases true words. But the exact same charges can be fairly levelled at Bugliosi himself. For example, Bugliosi states in his introduction that conspiracy theorists have been erroneously claiming for years that no one has ever duplicated the shooting feat the Warren Commission attributed to Oswald, and implies that critics have perpetuated this supposed falsehood by ignoring evidence found in the Warren Commission volumes. "On page 446 of volume 3," he writes, "we learn that way back in 1964, one `Specialist Miller' of the U.S. Army, using Oswald's own Mannlicher Carcano rifle, not only duplicated what Oswald did, but improved on Oswald's time." Nothing Bugliosi is alleging here is in any way acquainted with the facts.

Firstly, the tests to which he is referring have been covered countless times by numerous critics including Mark Lane in his 1966 book, Rush to Judgment and Sylvia Meagher in her acclaimed 1967 work, Accessories After the Fact. And secondly, the "duplication" was achieved by drastically altering the firing conditions and using riflemen far superior to Oswald - who was teased by his fellow marines due to his inability to qualify with his rifle. For the Army test, three rifleman, all rated as "Masters" by the National Rifle Association, fired at three stationary targets, rather than a moving one, from a tower thirty feet lower than the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. For confirmation of Oswald's ability to pull off the assassination, this test was about as much use as a chocolate teapot. And Bugliosi's treatment of this issue conclusively demonstrates that when faced with evidence he does not like, he is ready to do exactly what he says the critics are prone to do, "simply ignore it."

Nonetheless, in his childish and unscholarly way, Bugliosi continues to hurl insults at the conspiracy believers. "Waiting for the conspiracy theorists to tell the truth," he says, "is a little like leaving the front-porch light on for Jimmy Hoffa." And, "The conspiracy theorists are so brazen that they tell lies...about verifiable, documentary evidence." For the most part, Bugliosi sees no need to make a distinction between the responsible critic and the outlandish theorist, preferring instead to tar all with the same brush. He appears to relish in making sweeping, derogatory generalizations such as, "Ninety-nine percent of the conspiracy community are not, of course, writers and authors. These conspiracy `buffs' are obsessed...and actually attend conspiracy-oriented conventions...most of them are as kooky as a three-dollar bill..." It is obvious that Bugliosi needs to paint a negative picture of the JFK research community as a whole in order to make his own theory more palatable. He no doubt believes that his disrespectful, acerbic manner appears clever or witty but his bile-spewing tactics reveal how little faith he has in his own conclusion. As the old saying goes; an empty can rattles the most.

Bugliosi's ego would never let him admit it, but Reclaiming History spectacularly fails to live up to its intention of settling the controversy. It fails because, despite Bugliosi's assurances that his only master and mistress "are the facts and objectivity," he commits the exact same sins of which he accuses the conspiracy theorists¾and adds a few more. He consistently fills his narrative with hypothetical instances in place of actual evidence and expects the reader to take his word for it. His book is practically brimming over with phrases such as "must have," "reason to believe," "most likely" and "probably." This over-use of the hypothetical may be standard practice in a court room, but it is not how history should be written. Far from sticking to the facts, Reclaiming History is far and away the most factually inept, theory driven and speculative book ever written on the Kennedy assassination.
Comment Comments (26) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 3, 2015 1:24 PM GMT

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters
JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters
by James W. Douglass
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

132 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JFK and the Unspeakable, 19 Dec. 2008
In 1991, when Oliver Stone unveiled his movie "JFK," he was ridiculed and criticised for his compassionate portrayal of President Kennedy. His controversial thesis, that JFK was a man of peace who was struck down by a powerful cabal hell bent on war in southeast Asia, was not what the media or the establishment wanted the world to hear. Journalists who fancied themselves historians were quick to point out that it was Kennedy who announced in his inaugural address that Americans would "pay any price" in their fight against communism. And it was Kennedy that brought the world the closest it ever came to nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis. JFK, they said, was a hardened cold warrior until his dying day. End of story.

To counter Stone's powerful story along came Gerald Posner, with the most heavily promoted JFK assassination book of all time. Posner told us that conspiracy theorists like Oliver Stone were all crazy and the Warren Commission was right all along - "it was Oswald, silly!" The simple fact that "Case Closed" was packed full of inaccuracies and distortions of truth didn't bother the media one bit. Instead, Posner was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Hot on his slippery heels came Seymour Hersh ready to let us know that "Hey, JFK wasn't that nice a guy after all so it really doesn't matter who killed him. Go on, forget about the assassination. Go see what's on TV." Thankfully the dark cloud that was Hersh's vision of Camelot quickly passed over our heads and the world's people were still able to think for themselves.

Jim Douglass took the time not only to think for himself but also to actively seek the truth for himself. He studied the research of others, he interviewed relevant witnesses and he pored over the mountains of documents released by the Assassination Records Review Board. Then he produced one of the best books ever written on the subject. What makes JFK and the Unspeakable so good is that it does exactly what it promises to do; it tells us why President Kennedy was killed and why it matters. Kennedy was killed because he learned from the mistakes of the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis and became a threat to the cold war establishment. He came to see that the inevitable loss of innocent life that would follow a nuclear war was unacceptable and that despite the differences between the American and Russian ways of life, they all must breathe the same air. Kennedy had negotiated a nuclear test ban treaty and began to look at the possibility of total disarmament. He had organised secret back channels for communication with both Castro and Khrushchev because he wanted to end the cold war. And, just as Oliver Stone claimed, President Kennedy was pulling American military advisors out of Vietnam. Kennedy was becoming a man for peace and to the CIA and the Pentagon, whose very livelihood was dependant on prolonging the cold war, this was wholly unacceptable.

Why does it matter? Because if Kennedy had lived the world may well have been a very different place. If he had succeeded in implementing his plans the cold war may have ended much sooner and the world would have been spared the horrors of the Vietnam war. It matters because if he had lived a little longer, many others might have too. Jim Douglass won't be nominated for a Pulitzer and he won't receive the media hype afforded the likes of Gerald Posner. But his book is a masterpiece because it tells you the truth and, if you will allow it to, it will make you understand it.
Comment Comments (342) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 7, 2014 11:45 AM BST

Case Closed
Case Closed
by Gerald L. Posner
Edition: Paperback

24 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Case Still Open, 8 Oct. 2007
This review is from: Case Closed (Paperback)
The beauty of a book like Case Closed is that it claims to have all of the answers. If the reader is willing to blindly accept everything the author states as fact, they may be left feeling as if they know the answer to the great American murder mystery. There's no doubt that Posner is a strong, if simplistic, writer and as a former lawyer he knows how to present a case. And he most certainly has his lawyer hat on when he presents what basically amounts to a prosecutors brief. He cherry-picks the evidence, choosing only the witness testimonies and statements that support his arguments whilst ignoring and misrepresenting those that do not. Worst of all, when there is no evidence to support one of his claims, he says there is anyway!

Case Closed is rife with factual errors. In fact there are probably more inaccuracies in this book than in any of the hundreds of pro-conspiracy books that Posner spends half of his time criticising. For example:

p255: Posner claims that railroad workers on the overpass could not have seen puffs of smoke from rifle fire on the knoll "since modern ammunition is smokeless, it seldom creates even a wisp of smoke." This is provably false. Even a government investigation of the assassination refuted this. (see HSCA report p606)

p13n: Posner cites the reports of two Soviet psychiatrists claiming that they support the notion that Oswald was mentally unsound. They do not. (see Warren Commission hearings vol. 18 p464-73)

p257: Posner claims that eyewitness Ed Hoffman could not have seen a gunman behind the picket fence atop the grassy knoll because his view was blocked by "four large railway freight cars." All known films and photos show this to be false.

p329: According to Posner the exact moment Governor Connally was hit can be pin-pointed at frame 224 of the Zapruder film because "the right front of the Governor's suit lapel flips up from his chest." He neglects to mention that the bullet hole in Connally's jacket was several inches down from the lapel in the jacket body beneath the right nipple area.

And so on.

This is not to say that Case Closed is entirely without merit. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the author's conclusions, it is a very enjoyable read. Even though I know it is woefully biased and inaccurate I was gripped by Posner's biography of Oswald. And he does debunk a few of the sillier theories on the assassination (such as the bizarre body alteration theory put forth in David Lifton's book "Best Evidence"). Still, it's probably best to treat this book as what it is; a work of fiction.
Comment Comments (23) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 23, 2013 1:02 PM GMT

Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years
Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years
by David Talbot
Edition: Hardcover

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brothers by David Talbot, 20 Sept. 2007
I actually wasn't expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. "Brothers" falls more into the category of "why-dunnit" than "who" and I usually find such works a little tedious and long-winded. However, Talbot rarely over-emphasises a point and weaves many fascinating and engaging tales into his narrative. That said, there are some important points , such as the issue of Secret Service protection, that were only touched upon and could have been explored at least a little.

As Jim DiEugenio has pointed out, Talbot's take on the Kennedy saga has altered drastically over the last decade or so. Way back in 1992, he wrote an artice on the movie JFK, in which he criticised Oliver Stone's theory that Kennedy was fighting a government opposed to peace and social justice and that this led directly to his assassination. In "Brothers," Talbot has made a 180 degree turn and now presents much evidence supporting Stone's controversial view. In my opinion, this speaks volumes about the integrity of the author. Unlike the majority of Kennedy researchers, talbot is clearly more than ready to go where the evidence leads him.

Nonetheless, there are a few problems with "Brothers," the biggest of which is his treatment of the Jim Garrison investigation. Although it appears that Talbot is trying to take an objective stance, he ends up whitewashing the appalling behaviour of Walter Sheridan and doesn't acknowledge the government coordinated campaign to de-rail Garrison's probe. The New Orleans evidence is key to the conspiracy to kill Kennedy and the attack on Garrison deserves a more accurate treatment.

All in all, an enjoyable read that has inspired me to look into the RFK murder - something I had vowed not to do after spending so many years on JFK! Buy it, but buy Bill Davy's "Let Justice Be Done" too to fill you in on the details of the Garrison case.

Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £6.50

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Emancipation, 2 April 2006
This review is from: Emancipation (Audio CD)
I must admit, it's taken me some time to get into this album. It's the volume of material that slowed me down. Three cd's is an awful lot to take in all at once no matter how big a fan you are. But I guess that's Prince for you - music just pours out of him. And for that I am thankful! Emancipation admittedly has it's share of filler but there is some stunning material spread across these three discs. Like many I beleive the album would have benifited from a little quality control and could have been reduced to a truly exceptional single album.
The first disc is the one that sounds most like classic Prince and contains much of the best material. The opening track, "Jam of the Year" has an infectious groove and features some inspired piano playing. "We Gets Up" is as funky as hell - oh how this man can funk! "Damned If Eye Do" is a classic rock number that should please fans of the purple era. My personal favourite, "In This bed Eye Scream", is one of Prince's more personal songs, dealing with the breakdown of his relationship with Revolution member's Lisa and Wendy.
Disc two is basically all ballads. This may sound a little dull but there are some beautiful melodies here. Standout tracks include "Soul Sanctuary" and "Saviour." The third disc is a more up-beat dancey set. "Slave" is a stripped down track with an almost Sign O The Times-like demo quality. "Face Down" is one of Prince's better attempts at Hip Hop. The title track closes the album with a badass funky bass line that will not leave my head.
As mentioned before, three discs is a lot for anyone and therefore this album may not be for the casual listener. But if you're a lover of real music you should take the time to listen because you'll discover some truly amazing song writing here. If you already own a few Prince albums then you're probably already aware of the man's genius and will definitely enjoy much of this set.

The Rainbow Children
The Rainbow Children
Price: £29.24

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rainbow Children, 22 Mar. 2006
This review is from: The Rainbow Children (Audio CD)
When I first bought this album I didn't even know it was coming out. I just happened to pop into Andy's records on the day of release and there it was! I couldn't wait until I got home to hear it so I ran across the street to the library, sat in a comfy, quiet spot and, not knowing what to expect, popped it in my walkman. I fell instantly in love. It's just an incredible album in every way. Leaning more heavily towards jazz than anything Prince had previously released, it may not be to everyone's taste but tracks like "1+1+1 is 3", "The Work pt. 1", and "The Everlasting Now" are still irresistibly funky! Recommended for real music fans everywhere.

Price: £24.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 3121, 20 Mar. 2006
This review is from: 3121 (Audio CD)
3121 is being touted as a return to form, which is nonsense - the man never lost his form people! Prince is not Michael Jackson, he is not a "Pop Star", he is and always has been an artist who plays by his own rules. To prove this point Prince followed up his most commercially successful album, "Purple Rain", with "Around The World In A Day", an album that utterly confounded the critics with it's lack of radio friendly three minute pop tunes. It was a statement of intent: Prince would forever make music for himself.
Over the years, Prince has proven himself capable of delivering the hits when he feels like it. He did so in 1991 with the massively successful "Diamonds and Pearls" album and again a few years later with the smash-hit "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World." Since then he's continued to explore music as he has seen fit with little regard for what the outside world thinks. That is, until now. 3121 is pure pop and the failed musicians that call themselves "music critics" (you know, the morons who write for Q and NME) can once again understand what he's doing.
It's all here, the screaming guitars, the funky bass, THAT falsetto. And he's still reaching, still exploring, still an artist. If ever you doubted His Royal Badness (shame on you!) this album will make you eat your words. "Fury" is as fine a rock song as Prince has ever written, "Love" is the type of electronic dance pop that Madge is just not capable of delivering and the Al Green kissed "Satisfied" is simply sublime.
In a word, Godlike.

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