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Moving and Magnificent,
This review is from: Parkland: Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Movie Tie-in Editions) (Paperback)
Parkland is a shortened version of the author's definitive book Reclaiming History published back in 2007. Reclaiming History covered almost every possible facet of the Kennedy assassination in minute detail, including the conspiracy theories around at that time that had proliferated since shortly after the event. Parkland in the main covers the actual event in almost forensic detail and has left out most of the Conspiracy Theories. This means he has been able to produce a volume of a little less than half the size at about 630 pages. Even at half the size of the original it is still a substantial book which covers the four day period from the day of the assassination through to the burial of Kennedy and Oswald.
I am not an expert in this field or even particularly knowledgeable, having read perhaps 5 books on the subject in the last twenty years. As a result I am pretty much convinced that Oswald acted alone and that although flawed and possibly incomplete the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee reports, that Oswald was the lone gunman, are essentially correct in the main.
The book provides compelling evidence that Oswald acted alone, because there is no credible evidence to the contrary. Conspiracy theorists take a single piece of conflicting testimony, a possible incriminating connection, half-truths, genuine mistakes, badly worded statements from people who should have known better, and downright lies/exagerations and weave them into what they think of as credible evidence of a wholesale conspiracy. The Conspiracy includes The Police state and Federal, The Secret Service, The FBI. The CIA, The Mob, Castro, Arms manufactures, Lyndon Johnson, and any right wing organisation in Dallas at the time. The conspiracy theorists have even suggested it was Governor Connelly!
Oswald is described in minute detail. His domineering, perhaps unhinged, mother, his absent father, constant moves and homes, numerous schools, no friends. His joining the Marines, probably to get away from his mother, his Marxist ideology, his grass is greener in the USSR idea which turned into a nightmare, his attempted suicide at 20 or 21 when he couldn't get his own way, his constant poverty, his violence to his wife and distance from his children, his attempt to kill a local politician (he was saved only by a window frame deflecting the bullet) his inability to keep a job and probably worst in his mind, his wife's eventual rejection of him.
The fact that Oswald was a Communist, had lived in the USSR, had a Russian wife, was being watched by the FBI and was gunned down before his trial have proved manna from heaven for conspiracy theory enthusiasts. They just cannot believe that a serial underachiever with a very high opinion of his own importance can buy a gun and shoot someone. How can such an inconsequential person do so much damage? He must have been part of a complex and highly organised conspiracy at the highest level, mustn't he? This is a much more palatable explanation than the boring truth!
Parkland reads like a well written political thriller without losing its academic credentials in the slightest. Mr Bugliosi has realised a book just covering the facts rather than including fantasist theories will appeal to those who want to know what really happened, and what certainly didn't happen on that terrible day 50 years ago. Bringing these four days to life in almost minute by minute detail, the very real shock, terror and almost unbearable sadness of those four days unfold with alarming reality. At times I found I needed to put the book down purely because the idea that so much suffering could be caused by a rejected malcontent with a $12 mail order rifle and a cheap .38 revolver is upsetting.
Even with a toddler at home and having little "me" time, I was reluctant to put it down and managed to finish it in 4 days, the same amount of time covered by the book. If you are looking for a balanced and beautifully written account of those four days in November without all the conspiracy nonsense you will do no better than this fine work!