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1.0 out of 5 stars Digging up bones, 17 Feb. 2014
This review is from: November 22: How They Killed Kennedy (Hardcover)
Michael Eddowes, financed the publication of this book (and two others) during the 1970’s.

In a nutshell Eddowes sought to advance the ‘two Oswald’s theory’. This wasn’t exactly an original idea in the mid 1970’s, it had been touted before. Eddowes chose to employ a variation on the theme by contending that the ‘real’ Oswald who went to the Soviet Union in 1959 was not the same ‘Oswald’ who returned to the USA in ’62.

Incredibly, just two things initially alerted the author to a body-double swap having being made; (a) The varying records of Oswald’s height, which appear throughout the documentary record of his life and, (b) At post mortem in 1963 there was no reference to a scar on the ‘Dallas body’, which the ‘New Orleans Oswald’ was known to have – namely as the result of minor, childhood mastoid surgery.

Thus his ‘investigation’ begins. Unfortunately, it doesn’t begin particularly well.

As early as page 1 of the foreword he writes; “..Jack Ruby, a Russian-Jewish hoodlum..”. But Jack Ruby wasn’t Russian. He was born in Chicago and his parents were both Polish. This is entry-level stuff and Eddowes flunks it. He can’t even establish the correct nationality of Jack Ruby. This does not auger well for the writing that follows.

Michael Eddowes boldly makes his intention plain as he finishes his foreword: “ [I] have produced this book which is, in effect, a ‘brief for the prosecution’ of Khrushchev for the murder of President Kennedy”. Eddowes – who was a solicitor by profession – doesn’t suggest under which law this ‘prosecution’ of a deceased Soviet national might have been pursued, however.

From this point on the author speculates, hypothesises and fabricates with sheer abandon. Basically, if he can imagine something, then it must be real. Unfettered by facts, evidence or testimony, Michael Eddowes embarks on his stream-of-consciousness musings and the reader is cornered as if by the drunk at the bar who knows the solution to all the ills of the world.
All of the assertions that are made about the substitution of a ‘fake Oswald/spy/assassin’ are utterly ridiculous and at no stage does Eddowes offer any proof at all for any of them.

A smattering of the author’s unrestrained theorising includes – but is not confined to - the following:

“It would seem that having been informed by the Russians that their spy in Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall had discovered that the Americans were aware of the presence of missiles on Cuba, the Chinese decided to await the outcome of the missile crisis”. (p. 12)

It would seem that Mr Eddowes has an overactive imagination.

“If, as the evidence indicates, the KGB organised the assassination,..” (p. 14)

Evidence? What evidence?

On page 16 (and in the photographic plate section of the book) Eddowes describes Warren Commission exhibit 237 as a surveillance photograph of a 35 year-old American male. He’s guessing again. To this day the name, age and nationality of this individual remain unknown!

“About twenty-four hours after the assassination, it was discovered that the assassin [that’s the fake Oswald] had also been spying at Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall in Dallas during the ‘Cuba Crisis’ of October 1962” (p. 17)

Discovered? By whom? Eddowes doesn’t say
“There is some circumstantial evidence that Ruby was involved for months if not for years in the plot to assassinate”. (p. 27)

Eddowes neglects to state what that ‘evidence’ was.

“The ‘genius’ of the Russian plot was to send the imposter to the American Embassy in Moscow on 31 October 1959; thereafter the route to Dealey Plaza would be unimpeded”. (p. 99)

‘Genius’? It was more than that. Kennedy wasn’t elected president until the following year! Those dastardly Soviets could predict the future, eh?

As Eddowes weaves his web of B-movie, spy-body-doubles, he goes to great lengths to make the crucial distinction between the ‘real Oswald’ and the ‘assassin’. The author never really gets around to suggesting – much less proving – how or when this ‘swap’ was accomplished. At one point (p. 98) he even muses that, “It will later be demonstrated in this book that it is possible that the real Oswald never reached Russia,..”. Despite this promise, he doesn’t ‘demonstrate’ this at all; he simply hazards a guess.

Not until page 155 does the author present all of his ‘reasons’ for suspecting imposture. He cites Oswald’s height, the ‘missing’ mastoidectomy scar, hair, skin colour, American accent, fluent Russian, inability to speak any Spanish and change in character.

As Eddowes hammers home the ‘real Oswald’s’ innocence, he equally hammers home the ‘fake Oswald/real assassin’s’ guilt.

Eddowes accepts that ‘the fake Oswald’ really did shoot JFK from the TSBD and he is certain that ‘the fake’ also killed Tippit. Time and again the dogged investigator inches the ‘real’ (New Orleans born) Oswald away from the Dallas murders and inserts the Soviet body-double into all of the incriminating scenarios.

This kind of lunacy drones on until, mercifully, the book finishes; but Michael Eddowes’ quest was far from over.

More writing, in the same vein followed and as the 70’s drew to a close Eddowes forsook his typewriter, picked-up his passport and splashed out more of his own money on travelling to the USA. He was on a mission in which he sought to convince others that the Warren Commission and (by this time) the HSCA had got it all wrong.

Incredibly, by 1981 he’d convinced Marina Oswald that the grave in Rose Hill cemetery did not contain the body of her husband, but that of the ‘fake soviet agent/assassin’. She agreed to an exhumation. Amid huge media attention, on October 4, 1981 the grave was opened and the casket and body were removed to Baylor University Medical Centre for a thorough forensic examination. By the end of the same day, the team of forensic pathologists had reached their collective and individual conclusions:

The body was that of the New Orleans born Oswald, the same man who had served in the Marines, gone to the USSR, married Marina, fathered two children by her, returned to the USA, shot Kennedy, shot Tippit and was, in turn, shot by Jack Ruby. The dentition and the presence of a mastoid scar showed, beyond any doubt, that Michael Eddowes had been wrong all along.

Yet Eddowes was more than just ‘wrong’ about the identity of the body in the grave. In his zeal to blame ‘the assassin’ for the murders of JFK and Tippit, he had, without realising it, been building a case against the ‘real’ Oswald every step of the way. Given that it was the ‘real’ Oswald who was in the grave and that ‘assassin’ was the very same man, all of the accusations that the author had made against ‘the fake’ Oswald rebounded fully on Lee Harvey Oswald – the one and only Lee Harvey Oswald.

So why write a review of a book that expounds a redundant hypothesis?
Well, I think that, ‘How They Killed Kennedy’ is a good example of just how a seemingly credentialed writer – Eddowes was a solicitor – can present a ‘theory’ which, even for a few short years, can bamboozle a credulous readership.
The angst to exonerate Oswald has existed from the very beginning of the conspiracy movement and is still prevalent today, fifty years on. There have been all manner of ‘theories’ postulated to excuse his two murderous acts; Eddowes merely had his own ‘pet theory’.

Conspiracy theories are like religions; they can’t all be right but the can all be wrong.

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November 22: How They Killed Kennedy
November 22: How They Killed Kennedy by Michael Eddowes (Hardcover - 2 Feb. 1976)
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