Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Ten Worst Books on the JFK Assassination (Chronological)

1. The Warren Report (1964).

The first official whitewash, the Warren Report represents the U.S. government's first attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people. On the weekend of the assassination the new President, Lyndon Johnson, had recieved reports from the CIA's Mexico City station claiming that Lee Harvey Oswald had been seen conspiring with communist agents two months previously. Johnson, fearfull of a nuclear war with the Soviets, ordered Earl Warren to chair the Commission and "prevent the deaths of 40 million Americans." In other words: make sure the buck stops with Oswald.

2. Marina and Lee by Priscilla Johnson McMillan (1977).

Lee Oswald's murdered body barely had time to cool before Priscilla Johnson McMillan jumped on the scene to "befriend" his widow, Marina, and begin work on her official biography. As the only American jounalist to whom Lee Oswald granted an interview shortly after his "defection" to the Soviet Union, McMillan had a curious ability to be in the right place at the right time. Curious, that is, until the release of official documents revealed that the CIA considered her a "witting collaborator". The result was a book that even Marina would later dismiss as "full of lies."

3. Case Closed by Gerald Posner (1993). 

Oliver Stone's 1991 movie JFK sparked renewed and massive debate about the assassination and gave many people their first insight into the lies of the Warren Commission and the implausibility of the lone gunman theory. And then along came former Wall Street lawer Gerald Posner to save the day! The fact that Case Closed was brimming over with factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations did not stop the mainstream media from heaping unprecedented praise on the book and lauding Posner for "exposing" the critics. But as Flava Flav warned us, don't believe the hype.

4. The Kennedy Contract by John H. Davis (1993).

Behind Lee Oswald and Fidel Castro, the Mafia has long been the third most popular scapegoat in the murder of John Kennedy. In fact, the theory seems quite unbelievably to have gained in popularity over recent years despite the fact that there is absolutely zero evidence that Oswald had any connections to organized crime. Conversely, as former U.S. Senator Richard Schweiker said, Oswald did have the "fingerprints of intelligence" all over him. Sadly, this matters little to John H. Davis who appears to be intent on absolving the U.S. government of any complicity in the assassination.

5. Killing the Truth by Harrison Edward Livingstone (1993).

One of the most over-the-top, paranoid conspiracy theorists out there (and I do mean "out there"), Livingstone's third JFK book is a long-winded, badly written attack on those in the critical community he claims are "killing the truth" about the assassination. And by "killing the truth" he means not buying into his wacky nonsense. Those to whom Livingstone directs his delusionary ranting include Harold Weisberg, Oliver Stone, Mark Lane and Robert Groden. Hell, even the legendary Mary Ferrell is not spared Livingstone's misplaced wrath. A pathetic waste of time, effort and paper.

6. Oswald's Tale by Norman Mailer (1995).

Norman Mailer claimed that he began writing his biography of Oswald with no fixed opinion about his guilt but to anyone with even half a brain cell this is obvious bullshit. Not only does he rely heavily on three anti-Oswald sources—the Warren Report, Case Closed and Marina & Lee—but he consistently interprets Oswald's actions in ways that conform to the official portrait and makes no attempt to deal with Oswald's obvious intelligence connections. As Harold Weisberg once said, this is not so much Oswald's tale as it is Mailer's.

7. False Witness by Patrica Lambert (1998).  

This one-sided, broadside attack on Jim Garrison is truly one of the worst pieces of garbage I've ever had the misfortune to read. Patricia Lambert cobbles together every bad thing ever said about Garrison with no regard for its veracity and in true tabloid fashion she even accuses him of being child molester and compares him to cult leader, David Koresh. This is not only one of the worst ever books dealing with events related to the Kennedy case it's probably one of the worst books ever written.

8. The Great Zapruder Film Hoax edited by Jim Fetzer (2003).

The authors of this silliness actually believe that the Zapruder film is a complete Mary Poppins-style fabrication! What more really needs to be said? It is this type of paranoid nonsense that makes it easy for Warren supporters to lump us critics in with UFO spotters and moon hoaxers. There can be no doubt that books like this do nothing but muddy the record, add to confusion about the case and hinder any progress we might otherwise be making.

9. Blood, Money & Power by Barr McClellan (2003).

Disbarred Texan lawyer, Barr McClellan, must have been in serious need of cash to write this dreadful piece of obvious fiction. The most sensational claim in Blood, Money & Power was that the fingerprint of convicted murderer and friend of Lyndon Johnson, Mac Wallace, was found on a book carton on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. But, as it turned out, this wasn't true.

10. Reclaiming History by Vincent Bugliosi (2007).

Vincent Bugliosi's massive 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 theorists and 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.


  1. An excellent list Martin!
    If it were mine I would perhaps drop the Zap Hoax book in favor of Mellingers "Mortal Error"
    (SS agent shot Kennedy, ooops)
    Thanks, Ed

  2. I agree totally with that list.

  3. To Mr. McClellan: Two questions-- 1) Who should I believe, the Parkland doctors, or what you report? Either the throat wound was an ENTRANCE WOUND, or it wasn't! And 2) Why did you OMIT the names of the other two people up on the TSBD's sixth floor, Ruth Ann (?) and Loy Factor? Do you not believe the late Loy Factor's story? Key to the events of Dealey Plaza? # of shots HEARD does NOT = # of shots FIRED!

  4. Just found your blog Martin. What is your opinion of the validity of the Zapruder film authenticity