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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An epic piece of work
There are so many books about the John Kennedy assassination, mostly "oh yes he did"/"oh no he didn't" arguments about whether or not there was a conspiracy that its easy to loose any sense of the shock and drama of the event itself and its aftermath. And this book does something to retrieve this by looking at the events from a less familiar angle - that...
Published 11 months ago by George Smiley

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE book about the Warren Commission but NOT about the Kennedy assassination
It is probably my fault for not reading the cover blurb properly - but I bought this book expecting a detailed account of the events which led up to the assassination of President Kennedy, the events of the day itself and the aftermath. That is NOT what this book is about. It is about the Warren Commission. In parts the book is fascinating, but inevitably due to the...
Published 2 months ago by Henry H8


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An epic piece of work, 6 Dec 2013
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This review is from: A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination (Hardcover)
There are so many books about the John Kennedy assassination, mostly "oh yes he did"/"oh no he didn't" arguments about whether or not there was a conspiracy that its easy to loose any sense of the shock and drama of the event itself and its aftermath. And this book does something to retrieve this by looking at the events from a less familiar angle - that of the work of those employed to support the Warren Commission. It brings the story down to the ground; the energetic work of bureaucracies to cover up any suggestion of culpability, the desire of Lyndon Johnson to clear the decks for his presidency by settling suggestions of a foreign conspiracy, the painstaking work of the Commission's staff, and the slightly enigmatic figure of Earl Warren - a fascinating man whose contribution to the history of the US in the last century is hugely underestimated.

This is a fascinating story, well- told. Shenon tries a little too hard to make a mystery about Oswald's trip to Mexico City and why the CIA misled the Commission about what they knew about it (my own speculation is that they heard Oswald sounding off about committing acts of violence to prove his dedication to the Cuban cause, and concealed it in the same way the FBI did with similar threats he made to them). He puts a bit too much weight on the accounts of people who even on the basis of his own account probably ought not be given too much credence. But by showing that the Commission was made up of normal human beings trying to make the best of extraordinary events rather than Bond villains involved in a mega conspiracy, Shenon does something to bring home the impact of the events.and what more can you ask of popular history?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not so much a history of the JFK assassination as a history of the subsequent investigation into it..., 15 July 2014
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C. Ball (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination (Hardcover)
I picked this book up thinking it would be yet another investigation of the JFK assassination, another overview of the merits and weaknesses of the many and varied conspiracy theories posited over the years, perhaps presuming (yet again) that finally the case has been closed with this book. The title certainly implies that, in its 'Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination'. Thankfully, and not at all to my disappointment, it isn't that at all. This book looks at the Kennedy assassination from a relatively unfamiliar angle: that of the Warren Commission presidential investigation into the assassination. Indeed, it is far more the 'Secret History of the Warren Commission' than anything else, and so much of the information contained in these pages was delightfully new and fresh to me.

Most books on the assassination do little more than dismiss the Warren Commission in a few sentences, ridiculing its narrow scope and conclusions. Indeed, with so many conspiracy theories out there, the irony is that the one thing most of them agree on is that the Warren Commission was a whitewash.

I couldn't possibly comment on the accuracy of the Commission's conclusions - nobody can. What this book certainly reveals is that for the vast majority of the young lawyers and staff who worked behind the scenes on the Commission, there was no suggestion of a deliberate cover-up, of the aforementioned whitewash. If the Commission's conclusions have been deemed by history to be faulty, that seems - as this book argues - to be largely the result of deception, deceit, back-pedalling and ass-covering by the three main security agencies: the FBI, CIA and Secret Service. It is almost without question that vital information was withheld from the Commission, information that may well have changed their final conclusions and perhaps the course of history.

In writing this engrossing and disquieting book, Philip Shenon had access to much brand-new material, recently disclosed documents and new interviews with previously unregarded individuals. He doesn't 'set out his stall' on the conspiracy theories one way or the other, although the evidence revealed does seem to strongly lean toward some Cuban connection. What he does conclude is that, almost from the moment of the assassination to the present day, senior officials in the American government have lied about the assassination, about events leading up to it, about what was known and not known about Oswald, and about what was and was not revealed to those who ought to have been privy to the full facts. There may or may not have been a conspiracy that led to JFK's death, but there has almost certainly been one to mislead, obfuscate and deny after it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE book about the Warren Commission but NOT about the Kennedy assassination, 10 Sep 2014
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This review is from: A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination (Hardcover)
It is probably my fault for not reading the cover blurb properly - but I bought this book expecting a detailed account of the events which led up to the assassination of President Kennedy, the events of the day itself and the aftermath. That is NOT what this book is about. It is about the Warren Commission. In parts the book is fascinating, but inevitably due to the subject focus there is so much detail about who said what to who at the Commissions. I soon lost track of who all the various lawyers were: 'so and so was 39 and wore glasses and studied at Yale, so and so was 45, married and went to Harvard' etc. The best and most interesting parts of the book are where people such as Jackie Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson become involved. Unfortunately these parts are all too brief. If you want a book about the Warren Commission - then this is it. If you want a book about the Kennedy assassination (including all the conspiracy theories) then this is probably not the book for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does not answer the mystery but well worth reading, 17 Mar 2014
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markr - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination (Hardcover)
This is a well written and fascinating account of the Warren Commission investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy. Painstakingly researched, and written so well that the 500+ pages fly by, this does not answer the questions but does raise some serious doubts - particularly about what Lee Harvey Oswald was doing in Mexico and about his contact with Cuban embassy staff just a few weeks before the assassination took place.

The author has clearly tried to be objective but his frustration at destroyed evidence, whatever the motives, and about the smokescreen created by US agencies, particularly the CIA , again whatever their reasons, shines through.

Perhaps the truth will never be known, perhaps it is already known - but this book adds a genuinely fascinating angle on the mystery, makes clear the pressures the Warren Commission staff were working under, and is well worth reading to understand the experiences of those who genuinely tried to seek the truth.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Cruel and Shocking Book! Not the Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination., 24 July 2014
By 
Ovekat (Exeter, Devon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination (Hardcover)
Firstly when buying this book it should be borne in mind that Philip Shennon is an apologist for the Warren Commission and the "lone nut theory." So don't expect the truth of what happened, merely a shoe horning of selected events and facts to fit the conclusion he wants to arrive at. In fact very similar to the Warren commission report - start with the conclusion you want namely, Lee Harvey Oswald did it all by himself - and then twist the facts to suit.

The author starts with deception even before the book begins! In the frontispiece Shennon confirms that Marina Oswald, wife of LHO confirmed to the Warren Commission that LHO had been to the Cuban and Russian embassies in Mexico City. What Shennon does not state is that prior to her Warren Commission testimony Marina was adamant that LHO had not been to those embassies and had vehemently told the Secret Service so. Then strangely at the time of her Warren Commission testimony in February 1964 she remarkably did an about turn and simultaneously received a payment of $132,000 dollars, worth $600,000 today, from a company called Tex-Italia with bogus partners using false names and who never made a film of her or LHO, in fact never made any type of film, and who were evicted from their business premises for not paying the rent. Even though Marina received the payment the film was taken no further. It takes Shennon 200 pages to confirm this point. The only assumption is that Marina was "financially encouraged" to change her view that LHO had not been to Mexico. The relevance of this epiphany is that unless LHO went to Mexico City (as opposed to an LHO lookalike, then the government case that LHO did it alone with communist encouragement wobbles considerably).

This is just the start of a book that mis-states events, exaggerates and minimises when he feels it's necessary to convince the reader that LHO was a lone nut. He, Philip Shennon, is an apologist for the Warren Commission whitewash perpetrated by the US government and media for the last 50 years. I counted over ninety misrepresentations and misleading statements including biased observations of known facts, and in my opinion, as a record of the assassination and who did it this book is utterly worthless.
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4.0 out of 5 stars kennedy assassination, 28 Mar 2014
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This review is from: A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination (Hardcover)
A good book though stretching the conspiracy theory a little The best of the books published re the anniversary of this shocking happening! Well written and thorough! A lot of research has gone into this and prompts more questions and answers many. Overall a very good read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 5 Aug 2014
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This review is from: A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination (Hardcover)
First class insight into the crime!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 1 Aug 2014
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This review is from: A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination (Hardcover)
Excellent.As new
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars J F K, 5 Jan 2014
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This review is from: A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination (Hardcover)
This book was bought as a surprise present for my husband and he just loves it, full of interesting detail
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gift, 20 Dec 2013
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This review is from: A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination (Hardcover)
This book was not for myself, but I'm sure it will be appreciated by the recipient. Delivery and condition of the product however was very good.
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