- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters Hardcover – 25 Jun 2008
|New from||Used from|
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
''One of the most important books in recent years . . . . I hope many churchpeople will read it to understand the depth of our country s unspeakable darkness and be free, in the spirit of John Kennedy and Jim Douglass, to pursue 'peace for all humanity.' '' --John Dear, S.J., author, Living Peace
''Remarkable: devastating in its documented indictment of the dark forces that have long deformed the public life of this country . . . . This book should be required reading for every American citizen.'' --Richard Falk, Milbank Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University
''An exceptional achievement. Douglass has made the strongest case so far in the JFK assassination literature as to the Who and the Why of Dallas.'' --Gerald McKnight, author, Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why
Douglass (a longtime peace activist with the Catholic Workers) borrows the term "the Unspeakable" from Catholic philosopher Thomas Merton in order to point towards a form of systemic evil that he believes resulted in the death of John F. Kennedy. He argues that Kennedy was slowly, and in contradictory manner, turning away from the Cold War hawkishnSee all Product description
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-2 of 38 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The positives: author Douglass attempts a parallel narrative, covering both Kennedy's Whitehouse years, his (relevant) foreign and domestic policies, as well as the secondary narrative concerning Lee Harvey Oswald, his movements and the Dealey Plaza situation and its aftermath.
Kennedy's domestic policy concerning his battle with the US steel industry is something that I had never read before (it's actually mentioned when Marilyn Monroe sings Happy Birthday to President Kennedy) and is potentially pertinent in a cumulative way to the context of the assassination. JFK's foreign policy - his growing detente with the USSR and Cuba, the backdoor negotiations that he was exploring, get covered reasonably well, as does his Vietnam withdrawal policy.
The negatives concern the fact that so much of this material is covered more authoritatively elsewhere: the Vietnam policy, for example, is analysed in much detail in books like JFK and Vietnam by Major (retd) John M. Newman, or by Colonel (retd) L. Fletcher Prouty in JFK: The CIA, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy. Kennedy's overarching career is discussed with much better analysis in Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years by David Talbot. Lee Oswald, the Dealey Plaza scenario and the rest of the mythology gets a much better hearing by the likes of Anthony Summers in JFK Conspiracy ( sometimes called, Not In Your Lifetime).
Then there's how this book starts. For some reason, possibly the author's pro-Christian agenda, Douglass introduces the musings of North American Trappist monk, Thomas Merton. Whilst Merton is as entitled as anybody else to his opinions on the Kennedy case, they are totally irrelevant to the substance of this book and yet Douglass goes on and on and on about him. It got to the point that I considered stopping reading this book, so obsessed is the author with working Merton's opinions in to the text. A good editor would have simply ripped that out and advised the author to start again.
The editing, however, is another place where this book falls woefully short: this book is terribly disorganised. It has six basic chapters which make sense (such as Washington and Dallas) but within each of those chapters, the narrative is all over the place. One minute Jack Ruby is being discussed at Parkland hospital, the next we are back with a living JFK who is mourning his son's death, then we're looking at Oswald's activities in Mexico City, then it's back to JFK and his secret negotiations with Khrushchev and off the book goes again. It's so disorganised that it's hard to discern what the author really wants to tell us. Yet conversely, this book is also incredibly repetitive: Douglass will give us a direct quote and a sentence or two later, he'll repeat exactly the same quote again, like he thinks we've forgotten.
Any book on the Kennedy case cannot hope to cover everything: all authors must choose what to include and what to leave out but again, here, Douglass' judgement is questionable. While I cannot agree with another critic's one star review of this book because he dislikes the author's selective use of witnesses, I do find it strange that Douglass seems to lean heavily on the "two Oswalds" theory. Not the well-established fact of an Oswald impersonator at the shooting range or test-driving a car recklessly, in both cases drawing attention to himself (though the author does quite rightly mention these) but rather the strange stories of a second Oswald being seen leaving the Texas School Book Depository and getting in a car immediately outside, or seen leaving the back exit of the cinema whilst Oswald was being arrested and taken out the front entrance, or the story of Oswald getting on a plane in Dallas and leaving the city just after the shooting. In the author's attempt to convince the reader of an intelligence operation being conducted around Oswald, of which there most certainly was one, the author draws from some questionable sources.
Overall, I found JFK and the Unspeakable disorganised and repetitive, with some adverse choices of sources and some irrelevant Christian-oriented commentary. Yet despite these issues and despite there being many better, much more comprehensively researched books on the multiple facets of this case, author James Douglass just about manages to redeem himself and pull off a basic overview of the complexity of this murder investigation. There are many other books on the subject I would recommend before this one but neither is this one to be avoided either.
Hindsight should be a powerful analytical tool and the threads that are pulled together here are quite convincing even without overt evidence to support the conclusions - the motives and the way history itself has developed in the past 50 years speak louder than anything. I wanted something that spread wider than just the murder itself (I read this in tandem with Gaeton Fonzi's book, The Last Investigation, which covers a lot of that material in more depth) and this book fulfilled that by drawing on much more circumstantial evidence for the apparent threat that Kennedy was evolving into for his own military-industrial establishment. And while the motives may have been circumstantial, the actions are there for all to see who are prepared to look and reason with an open mind. The great scandal of what happened in 1963 and the few years after Kennedy's untimely end, is the complete lack of authoritative and bold action by successive administrations in addressing the effective coup d'état that took place at that time, and bringing those responsible to justice and to account for their crimes.
Douglass' style is sometimes a little unstructured and repetitive, but he gets there in the end, and with a mass of evidence in one place that clearly brings the various threads together in a clear, but very scary, conclusion.
There seems to me a great parallel and connection in the events that took place back then with those that occurred during the first years of this century in that same bastion of the 'free' world - and I hope it's not another 50 years before the truth is exposed fully on both Kennedy's demise, the extremism of the state mechanisms that are implicated in that crime, and the further horrors of the past 15 years in bringing the world to further unrest. This book should be read with an open mind and one eye on current affairs - we lost a great man and a swathe of history has been the worse for his absence.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?