Sunday, 2 January 2011

The Top 10 Books on the JFK Assassination (In chronological order)

1. Rush to Judgement by Mark Lane (1966).

New York lawyer Mark Lane was asked by Lee Harvey Oswald's mother to represent him before the Warren Commission but the Commission denied the request. Instead, Lane wrote what is essentially a defense brief for Oswald based largely on the evidence published in the Commission's 26 volumes of hearings and exhibits. Of all the early critiques of the Warren report, Rush to Judgement is far and away the most readable and accessible and Lane himself remains the critic that Warren apologists love to hate. Gerald Posner, Jim Moore and Vincent Bugliosi have all dedicated large sections of their respective books to shooting Lane down but in their rantings and ravings none have managed to point out any factual errors in his work. Which speaks volumes really.

2. Six Seconds in Dallas by Josiah Thompson (1967).

Described as "A micro-study of the assassination" Six Seconds in Dallas was the first book to postulate that President Kennedy was felled by a triangulation of gunfire. A graduate of Yale and, at the time, a professor of philosophy, Josiah Thompson was given unique and unprecedented access to the Zapruder film that the Time-Life Corporation had thus far kept safely locked away from public view. The result was a brilliant, meticulously documented book that exposed the fallacies and contradictions in the Warren Com-mission's reconstruction of the crime and introduced readers to the likelihood that the fatal head shot came from the direction of the grassy knoll.

3. Conspiracy (retitled Not in Your Lifetime) by Anthony Summers (1980).

British journalist Anthony Summers' book came hot on the heels of the House Select Committee on Assassinations' verdict of a "probable" conspiracy in the murder of JFK but did a much better job of fingering the likely forces behind it. Surprisingly objective and always informative, Conspiracy adds many valuable pieces to a complex puzzle.

4. The Last Investigation by Gaeton Fonzi (1993).

Award-winning journalist Gaeton Fonzi tells the story of his time as staff investigator for the HSCA with the responsibility of following leads that pointed to the involvement of anti-Casto Cuban exiles and their CIA handlers. The Last Investigation presents a remarkable first-hand account of the inner-workings of the HSCA, explores numerous links between Lee Oswald and US intelligence, and exposes the Cuban exile/CIA/mafia figures that may have had a hand in the assassination.

5. Let Justice Be Done by William Davy (1999).

Far and away the best book dealing with Jim Garrison's investigation and failed prosecution of Clay Shaw, Let Justice Be Done is a remarkable account of how the government purposely obstructed justice in the Kennedy case. Utilizing thousands of newly declassified documents, Bill Davy lays out the proof that the very minute his probe hit the headlines, Garrison entered into battle with a federal government determined to uphold the conclusions of the Warren Commission by any means necessary.

6. Breach of Trust by Gerald D. McKnight (2005).

Subtitled "How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why" this book does exactly what it says on the tin. It explores the inner-workings and motivations of the Commission and explains why it arrived at the conclusions it did. Gerald McKnight uses his skills as professor of history to place the assassination and its cover-up in its proper historical context and in the process crafts the most authoritative Commission critique to date.

7. Prasie from a Future Generation by John Kelin (2007).

John Kelin tells the fascinating and almost-forgotten tale of a how a small handfull of private citizens managed to cut through the bullshit and bring the facts of the assassination to the attention of the world. A poultry farmer, a housewife and the publisher of a small Midlothian newspaper were among the first-generation critics to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude.

8. Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years by David Talbot (2007).

A pioneer of online journalism, David Talbot shows us President Kennedy's assassination through the eyes of his brother, Robert. He shows that not only did the Attorney General immediately suspect conspiracy, he knew in which direction to look. Brothers is the tale of how Robert Kennedy's commitment to solving his brother's assassination would ultimately end with his own shocking murder.

9. JFK and the Unspeakable by James W. Douglass (2008).

A masterpiece; JFK and the unspeakable tells us why John Kennedy died and why it matters. Kennedy was killed because he learned from the mistakes of the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis and became a threat to the cold war establishment. He came to see that the inevitable loss of innocent life that would follow a nuclear war was unacceptable and that despite the differences between the American and Russian ways of life, they all must breathe the same air. Kennedy had negotiated a nuclear test ban treaty and began to look at the possibility of total disarmament. He had organised secret back channels for communication with both Castro and Khrushchev because he wanted to end the cold war. And, just as Oliver Stone claimed, President Kennedy was pulling American military advisors out of Vietnam. Kennedy was becoming a man for peace and to the CIA and the Pentagon, whose very livelihood was dependant on prolonging the cold war, this was wholly unacceptable.

10. Hear No Evil by Donald Byron Thomas (2010)

Six Seconds in Dallas author Josiah Thompson said recently, "In my opinion, Don Thomas has produced the best book on the Kennedy assassination published within the last thirty years. Unfailingly fair-minded, Thomas lays out with devastating clarity the way science has bent itself to support an unsupportable official truth. More than this, his discussion of the evidence is a model of sober clarity. In a field crowded with sensation mongers and conspiracy wackos, Thomas’ voice is that of the sober scholar-scientist. His book sets the table for all future discussions of what happened in Dealey Plaza."

'Nuff said.


  1. OK, I've read seven out of ten.

  2. ME and Lee by Judyth Vary Baker, and The Innocence of Oswald, by Gary Fannin. Both are excellent, imho.