The Dangerous Assassins
by Jack Pearl
Monarch Books: January 1964
by Joseph E. Green
The murder of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 also initiated the birth of a genre – the conspiracy book, whether pro or con. However, The Dangerous Assassins by Jack Pearl is not really in that genre. It was turned out quickly to capitalize on the public’s interest in the assassination by providing a historical overview of the subject, beginning with Julius Caesar and going through the Guy Fawkes incident, and the various attempts (successful or otherwise) on the various U.S. presidents, culminating with Kennedy himself. It does not appear to have made much of a dent in the historical record; still, for researchers, there are some fairly interesting observations in the book.
I came across this first edition accidentally, not knowing what it was or having heard of the author, but intrigued by the publication date – less than three months after the assassination. It turns out that Jack Pearl is a pseudonym for Jacques Bain Pearl (1923-1992), and he did write a Kennedy assassination book eventually, in 1972, called The Plot to Kill the President. Having never heard of that book, I did some poking around but was unable to come up with much of anything about it. Although Harold Weisberg did apparently hear of the book, I could find nothing else about its actual contents.
Pearl also happens to be the cousin of well-known mystery novelist Donald Bain, who wrote the Murder, She Wrote series among other things. Interestingly, Bain was not a stranger to conspiracy material either, having written the famous and much-disputed account The CIA’s Control of Candy Jones.
As noted by Donald Bain, Pearl wrote romance and semi-erotic novels under the name Stephanie Blake. He had also written sci-fi novels with a Cold War bent and the novelizations for such films as Funny Girl and Our Man Flint.
The author’s profile inside the book also mentions that Pearl had gotten his M.A. from Columbia and spent “thirty months overseas with the Military Police of the U.S. Army in Africa, Sicily, and Italy.” I also found that Pearl had written in the field of cryptozoology, of all things. Quite a prolific and wide-ranging, if distinctly pulpy, career.
Although I could not suss out much about Pearl’s own The Plot to Kill the President, it seems a fair guess that the ‘plot’ he asserts comes from the Communists. That would fit into his overall bent as a Cold War enthusiast and former Military Policeman.
Except not so much in January 1964, as The Dangerous Assassins demonstrates. Basically only the last chapter will be of much interest to JFK researchers, and it is that section we will look at in detail. (There is an account of the Harry Truman assassination attempt in the book that is interesting, and includes the tidbit that Agent Boring was part of the firefight that ensued. Agent Boring, of course, is – as Vince Palamara has noted – “interesting,” with respect to the Kennedy assassination. And it appears he may have been, despite his denials, in Dallas on 11/22/1963.)
Perhaps understandably, the author accepts many details which we now know to be untrue. He believes that Lee Harvey Oswald and Marina Oswald fought over his purchase of the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, and that Oswald brought the rifle in a package under his arm stating it was Venetian blinds. The author passes along some other falsehoods, probably drawn from newspaper accounts: Oswald’s fingerprints were on the rifle (they weren’t, although the FBI came up with a palmprint some time after the fact), and he had nitrate residue on both hands, proving he had recently fired a gun (it proved he had either recently fired a pistol, or else handled newsprint, but the test actually cleared him of having fired a rifle) and so on.
However, Pearl doesn’t discuss the Single Bullet Theory – because it hadn’t been invented yet. The book was published two months before Arlen Specter even made his first trip to Parkland Hospital, so the author’s description is in line with the FBI and Secret Service beliefs about the shooting: “The first shot hit the President in the back, about shoulder blade-level…The second shot struck Governor Connally in the chest as he turned in jump seat at the sound of the first shot. Lee Oswald had one more chance as the presidential limousine receded in his sight. That final shot struck Kennedy in the back of the head and mushroomed like a dum-dum as it collided with the skull.” The Single Bullet Theory is such an accepted part of JFK lore that most people don't know there was a time when it wasn't, as Cyril Wecht says, the sine qua non of the government's case. The earliest FBI investigators didn't know about James Tague right away, whose minor facial injuries accounted for one of the three bullets, thus forcing the government into the two-shot scenario. Hence Arlen Specter's desperately illogical solution, otherwise known as the Magic Bullet.
Pearl, in the context of basically accepting the government’s version of the murder, and Lee Harvey Oswald’s guilt, does end up questioning key elements of the story. They are some of aspects of the story that have always scarcely been credible. I found it interesting to see them in a book written so early, and which otherwise endorses the government account.
The author notes one of the major problems with positing that Oswald shot Tippit:
Tippit conceivably might have passed up Oswald if the assassin had not been in such a hurry; the description the cop had received was very vague and could have applied to dozens of pedestrians. When he stopped Oswald, the policeman was clearly not expecting trouble, for he left his revolver in its holster. What words were exchanged between Oswald and Tippit will always be a mystery.
He looks askance at the behavior of the Dallas police:
Satisfied with the case against Oswald, Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry decided that, before all the damning evidence was made public, the accused should be moved to a maximum security prison, the county jail…Curry really intended to switch Oswald to an unmarked car; although no one has yet explained adequately how he intended to accomplish this sleight-of-hand once the prisoner was outside of police headquarters…Paradoxically, despite all the talk of ‘maximum security’ for Oswald, the Dallas Police Department did a most startling thing. They announced publicly the precise time when Oswald would be transferred to the county jail…
He sketches out Jack Ruby’s problematic background:
An ex-punk with a record, Ruby was nevertheless a great fan of the Dallas Police Department. He knew most of the boys around headquarters by their first names, and often ingratiated himself with them. For example, for the previous two days, he had been supplying police and reporters alike with hot coffee and sandwiches in the round-the-clock aftermath…Ruby’s was a familiar and likable face around the HQ, but he had no right to be in the basement when Oswald was being transferred. Still, he had got in unchallenged and unsearched. And in one coat pocket he was a packing a loaded .38 caliber revolver!
He points out some of the basic incongruities regarding Oswald:
Why did Lee Oswald travel to Mexico City in September? Why did he seek visas from both the Russian and Cuban consulates?...Apparently, in the case of the Cuban consulate, he did not want to wait a mere twelve days for a visa. The very day he left for Mexico it was announced that Kennedy would visit Dallas on an unspecified date in November. Obviously, then, Oswald’s impatience with the consulate people had little connection with Kennedy.
Where did he get the money to support his family – his wife claims he always sent her small amounts of cash – and where did he get the money to buy a car and travel to Mexico City? The Western Union office in Dallas has stated emphatically that for months before the assassination of President Kennedy, Lee H. Oswald received small amounts of money, ‘varying from $10 to $20,’ regularly from an anonymous sender. Who was that sender?
For example, was it just coincidence that Oswald took a job in the Texas State Book Depository, the most ideal location along the entire motorcade route for an assassin to take a shot at President Kennedy?...Even more disturbing, why was Lee Oswald not put under surveillance for the duration of President Kennedy’s stay in Dallas in accordance with routine Secret Service procedure?
The behavior of Oswald immediately after the shooting is in startling contrast to his behavior at the time he returned to his boarding house. After hiding the murder weapon, he sprinted down four flights of stairs to the lunchroom, bought himself a Coke, then calmly stared down a policeman with drawn pistol who confronted him with suspicion…Upon arrival at his rooming house he abruptly ‘comes apart’ emotionally. He dashes in and out in blind panic. He behaves like a hunted animal out in the street…The question that occurs to so many Americans is: Why did Lee Oswald lose his grip after the worst of it was over?
One interesting fact is that when Patrolman Tippit stopped Oswald on East 10th Street, he was heading in the direction of Jack Ruby’s apartment, only a few blocks away. Was it only a coincidence?
Why didn’t the Dallas police transfer Oswald in the conventional ‘paddy wagon,’ which could have backed down the ramp in the garage, right up against the doorway from which Oswald emerged after leaving the elevator?
Was [Jack Ruby] indeed, a super-patriot? His background down not suggest it – though he once peddled ‘hot’ statues of General Douglas MacArthur! 
And then, despite Pearl’s background interest in the Cold War, he pooh-poohs the idea of a Communist conspiracy.
If there was a plot, who was behind it? The Russians or the Cubans? Expert opinion regards this theory as being totally unrealistic. Anyone familiar with the unemotional machinery of Communist subversion realizes that a self-obsessed, undisciplined, irrational rebel like Lee Oswald would never have made the grade as a mere Red agent, much less have been chosen to instrument an international plot of such magnitude as the assassination of a U.S. President.
It is striking to note how many of these questions are still relevant today. They’ve been addressed in some of the best writing on the case, in books by Jim Douglass, Jim DiEugenio, Joseph McBride and others. However, some of these remain questions to this day, and will likely continue to be until every documentary record is released regarding this case.
One of the last comments by the author notes, rather poignantly: “Undoubtedly the murder trial of Jack Ruby, to be held in Texas beginning in February 1964, will resolve some of the doubts and answer some of the questions.” That trial would eventually result in a guilty verdict, although it was later vacated, and of course Ruby never got his second trial. He went out of this world, thanks to a fast-acting cancer, before it ever happened. Like so many other important witnesses, he died before having the chance to completely tell his story.
While Pearl’s The Dangerous Assassins is a minor addition to the collection of Kennedy-related books, I think it is interesting for its time of release and the excellence of some of its questions. It isn’t a conspiracy book, and it isn’t a pro-Warren Report book; instead, it bears the hallmarks of a man collating newspaper accounts and putting them together as best he can. And it has to be one of the first books in publication, if not the first book, to reference the JFK assassination in any detail. So while there is the inevitable repetition of some government untruths, Pearl appears to make a sincere attempt at working through the muddle and asking good journalistic questions within a somewhat naïve framework. It makes for interesting reading even 50 years on.
 Hall, Mark A., and Mark Less Rollins, Thunderbirds: America's Living Legends of Giant Birds (Paraview Press: 2004), 40-41.
 See Murder in Dealey Plaza, edited by Jim Fetzer.
 McKnight, Gerald, “Bugliosi Fails to Resuscitate the Single Bullet Theory,” Mary Ferrell Foundation: https://www.maryferrell.org/wiki/index.php/Essay_-_Bugliosi_Fails_to_Resuscitate_the_Single-Bullet_Theory. Also see his marvelous book Breach of Trust.
 Pearl, Jack, The Dangerous Assassins (Monarch Books: Darby, CT 1964), 144.
 Ibid, 145.
 Ibid, 146-147.
 Ibid, 147-148.
 Ibid, 150-151.
 Ibid, 152.
 Ibid, 153.
 Ibid, 154.
 Ibid, 155.
 Ibid, 151.
 Ibid, 155.
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