Directed by Tom McCarthy. Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy.
Featuring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Live Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian D’arcy James.
I was involved in a Facebook wall chat recently with the science fiction writer and Blue Oyster Cult lyricist John Shirley, in which he was decrying conspiracy theorists and their psychological problems, etc., the usual sort of thing. I responded by posting links to (1) a government report on MK-ULTRA; (2) a link to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment; (3) a link to the transcript of Richard Nixon remarking how he could get the money to pay off E. Howard Hunt; and (4) a link to an article about how at least seven banks conspired with Enron during that particular scandal. Mr. Shirley helpfully explained that none of these were “real” conspiracies, and that Watergate was a “tiny little conspiratorial thing.” Oh.
Unfortunately, it is no longer tenable to assert that there are not large-scale conspiracies afoot in the world of business, government, law, and – as shown in the new film Spotlight – the Catholic Church. To argue otherwise is to both give moral support to those who would collude for the purposes of power and to submit to another’s arbitrary authority. This particular film, directed by Tom McCarthy and based on the Boston Globe’s extensive investigation into pedophilic priests, is one of the most important of its kind ever made. One of the reasons it’s so good is because it proceeds – as a real investigation should – from a series of small details that lead to a larger context, which in this case implicates the Vatican itself.
The movie gives us the members of the Spotlight team, led by Walter Robinson (Keaton, beautifully understated), Mike Rezendes (Ruffalo), Sasha Pfieffer (MacAdams), and Matt Carroll (James), a group within the Globe whose job it is to perform long-term investigations. When the venerable newspaper hires its first Jewish editor, Marty Baron (Schreiber), he decides the first order of business is to pursue the local story of a priest accused of molesting young boys. This does not make the established order of Boston very happy. As the film explains, the Irish cops don’t like to make the (clerical) collar; the judges don’t want to make them testify; and the people don’t like the threat to their own sense of community. Nobody wants to put God on trial.
What makes the film special is that it doesn’t stop at the first priest, or even the tenth. In a scene that makes up the core of the picture, Marty Baron says the story is the “system.” That is, the problem is systemic and they have the story only when they can indict the entire underlying structure that protects these pedophiles. And that particular angle does go all the way to the top – to the highest members of the clergy, and ultimately to the Vatican, which maneuvers these men from one parish to another, leaving a trail of victims. How did they hide the crimes? Through cash settlements. As depicted in Spotlight, the Holy Church used lawyers to arrange the payoffs. The book Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church, by the investigative staff of the Boston Globe, goes into more detail: “In fact virtually all those who went to the Church with claims of sexual misconduct by priests received settlements before they filed suit, an arrangement that left no public record of the crime committed by the abusing priests.” (51)
One thing that struck me in both seeing the picture and reading the account afterward in Betrayal, is that at the beginning of the investigation the reporters were all in the position of conspiracy theorists. The more they probed the story, the more they had information implicating one of the most powerful and oldest institutions in the world in horrible crimes. They learned of networks, of backroom deals and of forces capable of altering court documents and destroying unwanted information. One of the fears in the movie, expressed by the Baron character, is that the Church would want to apologize and investigate its own messes. This is, in fact, exactly what it tried to do in the wake of the Globe’s reporting.
After the initial Globe reports, the cardinal held a televised press conference at which he apologized for his past mistakes and promised to report any future allegations against priests to the authorities… “He was basically saying, ‘Trust us, give us the benefit of the doubt, we’ll create a commission to make sure this doesn’t happen again.’ Well, we tried that. It didn’t work.” (135)
The Church created ‘treatment facilities’ in which they would ship repeat offenders, but it turned out those facilities made essentially no real attempt to block access from the priests to the kids. So naturally the priests would repeat again.
We know, in fact, that no institution can police itself honestly that way. As we have seen over and over again with police departments, the CIA, and other governmental investigations, the mantra “we have investigated ourselves and found nothing wrong,” is a recipe for corruption. It proved true in the Warren Commission, which came to an absurd conclusion in the Kennedy assassination, and it has failed again and again to find evidence of high crimes in public scandals.
“No institution can police itself,” said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “If the Church wants to restore trust, leaders should be more open about these treatment facilities. If chemical companies said, ‘Just trust us – send us your dioxins; we’ll clean them up,’ – the public would be wary.” (176)
By dealing with its subject honestly and at least making an effort to expose the incredible scope of the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal, Spotlight deserves immense credit. An absorbing, fascinating film, sharply made and efficient, it packs a punch. It earns its comparisons to All the President’s Men, and if it isn’t quite as slickly made, it has the benefit that the story it tells isn’t a fairy tale designed to protect the CIA but a true indictment of established power. After all, what entity owns more land than the Vatican? Why does the Pope have a Swiss guard? Why are priests made to be celibate? It has nothing to do with morality - it was to prevent priests from having heirs who might fight for property rights. The more one scratches the surface of the Holy Mother Church, the more one finds a den of thieves who have turned the musings of a carpenter's son into a golden empire. If this film helps get people to look at that, then it has truly done the Lord's work.
The Big Short (2015)
Directed by Adam McKay. Written by Adam McKay & Charles Randolph, based on the book by Michael Lewis.
Featuring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Brad Pitt, Hamish Linklater, Karen Gillan.
Too Big to Fail (2011)
Directed by Curtis Hanson. Written by Peter Gould, based on the book by Andrew Ross Sorkin.
Featuring William Hurt, Billy Crudup, Paul Giamatti, Topher Grace, Cynthia Nixon, Bill Pullman, Tony Shaloub, James Woods.
Margin Call (2011)
Written and directed by J C Chandor.
Featuring Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Zachary Quinto, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Simon Baker.
It's become clear that the housing market collapse of 2007-2008 was merely a symptom of the coming world collapse. A heart attack, if you will. However, right after the patient became relatively stable again, Fettucini Alfredo went right back on the menu. We know now that death is coming; it's only a matter of time. By 2010, the unregulated financial derivatives market stood at a value 20 times the world economy. Yes, you read that right; there is more money tied up in one casino-style bet in this financial casino than there is money in the world to pay it off. Mars needs ATMs.
Since obviously no one has the political will to fix the situation, we can at least make crackling good films about it. It does the beg the question, though - if a bunch of movie stars can understand how untenable the scenario is, how is it that the people who are ostensibly paid for their knowledge of markets unable to make the connection?
Adam McKay's new film The Big Short supplies part of the answer. It's a snarky affair, built and edited for YouTube consumption, with lots of fourth-wall breaking and guest appearances from Selena Gomez and Anthony Bourdain, among others. The story follows the adventures of several financial Wall Street outsiders who independently figure out that the housing market is a time bomb which must inevitably blow. It's a frequently, and ruefully, hilarious picture that will be familiar to anyone who has ever tried to introduce truth or data into a corporate meeting: No one believes you, because no one's read the thing you told them to fucking read.
In every picture where something complicated is at stake, there is a scene where one character says, "Okay, explain this to me as if I were an idiot," and another character dutifully breaks it down. My favorite example of this is in the "no studying" scene in Ghostbusters:
In the 2011 film Too Big to Fail, this is how they do it:
And in the 2011 film Margin Call, this is how the scene plays out:
The Big Short spends most of its running time doing variations of this scene, fully aware that it has a lot of complex jargon to get across and fully aware - perhaps too much so - that an audience will get bored if they don't have shiny distractions while this happens. And do we have shiny distractions? We do, in spades. And they, for the most park, work, as we float along from scene to scene as in a farce, which is probably the best way to tell this story. After all, if you can't laugh at the end of human civilization on the planet, when can you laugh?
Featuring a terrific cast of white men in sharp suits all trying to steal scenes from each other, The Big Short is as entertaining as it is informative about that Wall Street world. It isn't as skillful or dazzling as The Wolf of Wall Street, but it is probably more defensible and may even succeed better at educating its audience. In any case, the film laughs all the way to the bank it so distrusts.
Previous entries into this genre, Too Big to Fail and Margin Call, treated the crisis soberly - even sternly - and if you saw all three films in a row you might have a decent handle on how the crisis played out. Too Big to Fail suffers from positioning men like Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke as its moral center, an insane choice; on the other hand, the film does show some of the motivations of the insiders at the Fed and a corruption so deep it's been internalized like a religion. Margin Call views the crisis from the point of view of one of the corporations whose life is threatened by their own bad bets, and sees the entire crisis from that one position. I think Margin Call is the best of the films, but that is purely an aesthetic observation, as only The Big Short makes some effort to humanize the millions of ordinary people who are devastated by rich men playing board games with their lives. British Lord Chancellor Edward Thurlow said that the problem with corporations is that they have "no soul to be damned, and no body to kick." Wall Street has become the ultimate embodiment of that problem.
BEST OF ENEMIES (2015)
Written and directed by Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville.
Featuring Gore Vidal, William F. Buckley Jr., Dick Cavett, Christopher Hitchens, & the voices of John Lithgow and Kelsey Grammar.
When I was an impressionable young man, my father duly impressed upon me the notion of what used to be called the “gentleman scholar.” That is to say, that while one is in the world, one ought to make some attempt at learning a little something about it. Expertise in some of the narrows, yes, but at least a broad knowledge across the disciplines; a concept outmoded by the time I was thirty, distinctly patrician and Dead White Male-ish, to be sure, but – in my case – extraordinarily useful. And if I may paraphrase Plato, if I failed in my goal to know, at least I learned how much I didn’t.
I found myself, in watching the extraordinary documentary Best of Enemies, filled with conflicting thoughts and emotions. At a surface level, it was impossible not to be seduced by the elocution, erudition, and high camp of Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr., nor to resist the torrent of diction, pitch, and punchlines. It was likewise impossible (for me, at least) not to feel a bit of nostalgia at the idea that people on television could once speak like that, to ten million people, and hope to be understood. Vidal, with his Hollywood sheen, famous friends, and brilliant toe-stepping between the outrageous (Myra Breckinridge) and cynical patriotism (the biographies Burr and Lincoln, among others), in dubious battle versus Buckley, the spokesman for the one percent, anti-black, anti-jewish, anti-gay, speaking the truth as given by the CIA.
CIA? We’ll come back to that.
The documentary begins at the invitation, by third-place network ABC, to Vidal and Buckley to joust at both the 1968 Republican and Democratic national conventions. With nothing to lose, the network broke from the usual form of simply shooting the convention in a straightforward way, instead inviting commentary from the two talking heads in a manner that would soon become familiar to us all, in form if not efficacy. They were both perfectly suited to the medium and the resulting skirmishes were entertaining, occasionally enlightening, and – in the later debates – viciously personal. That would, alas, become familiar too. However, despite their enmity and distance on “the issues,” which in this case was the looming police state represented by Richard Nixon just after Bobby Kennedy was murdered, it is striking how similar Vidal and Buckley were, at least in upbringing and articulation. ABC would not have invited Bobby Seale to offer remarks; indeed, this has not changed much in terms of mainstream television. A national network will only allow thought that presumes the existence of the current capitalist state.
The pairing proved incendiary; Vidal and Buckley, as political analysts, made superb television. Whether they actually participated in an actual debate – well, it’s unlikely that either would be convinced by the other’s points. What did happen in actual fact is that Vidal described Buckley as a “crypto-Nazi” (although how crypto he actually was, is itself debatable) which caused the latter to fly into a rage – in which Buckley lashed back that Vidal was “queer.” The entire last act of the documentary is consumed with this outburst, and rightly so, as it was a harbinger of television to come.
And that, ultimately, is what this documentary tells us. Of all the great and terrible events that accompanied 1968, the Vidal-Buckley debates mostly were prescient about presentation. ABC’s ratings doubled, and soon programs featuring point-counterpoint and issue-oriented debate filled the airwaves. From that grew CNN and Crossfire and now today’s Fox News shows like Bill O’Reilly. The features that arose out of Vidal-Buckley were lobotomized by comparison, however, and the toxic gibbons who run them lack magniloquence as well as sense. Our culture may rebel at the thought of a classical education, but there are worse things to have in an age of information; one imagines even Buckley would be nauseated at the prospect of speaking with the likes of Sean Hannity.
Oh yes, and speaking of CIA…while the documentary does bring some of the details of the traumatic 1960s, including Gore Vidal’s disagreements with Bobby Kennedy, it does not go into detail regarding Buckley’s CIA career. A Skull and Bones graduate of Yale in 1950, Buckley created the National Review with William J. Casey (who would later become CIA director under Ronald Reagan) and other CIA schleppers. In addition, Buckley was a good friend of notorious CIA operative E. Howard Hunt, directly involved in the Watergate break-in and implicated in the JFK assassination. Buckley went so far as to write the foreword for Hunt’s book American Spy. Which is precisely what Buckley was – a spy, a field operative among the intelligentsia of the American Right. His job, done brilliantly well, was to spur a reactionary conservativism that promoted militaristic and colonial values, whose malodorous effects linger to this day. In part, American Spy detailed the many propaganda assets and front groups used to spread “American values” around the world. Buckley was unquestionably one of its greatest assets.
For his part, Buckley received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former CIA Director George H. W. Bush.
Writing later of the debates, Vidal said of him that “…I set out to establish him not only as a war-lover but as a totalitarian, in the general sense of someone with an authoritarian disposition who wishes to use the state for such ends as placing the ‘chronic welfare cases’ of New York City in ‘rehabilitation centers’ outside the city…” in his essay A Distasteful Encounter with William F. Buckley Jr. in his (since-banned) Esquire article in 1969. This was not hard to do, since Buckley had written enough in his own National Review to build his own credentials. As Kevin Schultz observed in his Salon article:
He didn’t stop there. In 1957, Buckley wrote National Review’s most infamous editorial, entitled “Why the South Must Prevail.” Is the white community in the South, he asked, “entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically?” His answer was crystal clear: “The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so entitled because for the time being, it is the advanced race.” Buckley cited unfounded statistics demonstrating the superiority of white over black, and concluded that, “it is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.” He added definitively: “the claims of civilization supersede those of universal suffrage.”
Best of Enemies does an excellent job in its narrow space of showing how the Vidal-Buckley encounter had both personal consequences for both men and, regrettably, for television news of the future. If it doesn’t delve too deeply into the intelligence background of one of its subjects, that is understandable given its scope – and yet that background informs the proceedings. Because Buckley was never a lone interloper promoting Republican values, whatever those might be, but was indeed the crypto-fascist that Gore Vidal identified. A crypto-fascist who won. After all, without Bobby, the Democratic Convention erupted into a disaster, masterfully captured by Haxell Wexler in Medium Cool. Nixon was elected. The Vietnam War escalated. The nightmare continued until Reagan brought forth “morning in America,” which turned out to be the nightmare, doubled down upon.
In his later writings, the documentary tells us, Vidal became “shrill.” Perhaps because he continued to question received wisdom, including about the 9/11 attacks, and did so from his uniquely insider perspective. For my own part I found him as perceptive as ever, and his voice is sorely missed as we all have become unwilling witnesses to the collapse of the republic.
I recently saw this complaint – that the market is oversaturated with JFK assassination books – and from a certain point of view that is true. However, if we only pick out the worthwhile JFK books, that list shrinks considerably. The problem is, how do you know what is worthwhile and what isn’t?
Everybody has their own point of view. One person’s meat is another’s poison and all that. And it’s also true that some books that can have an utterly wrongheaded thesis and still have some worthwhile research in it. My friend Joe McBride has pointed out that even Dale Meyers’s book With Malice is not entirely useless, although one has to account for the ideological curve at all times. For his part, Meyers has attacked McBride’s book.
Remember: early on, there were questions about what happened, why the investigation played out as it did, and how Ruby managed to get into that basement. See my article on one of the first books to include the Kennedy assassination questions in this blog post. I will suggest that one way to think about which books are truly important to read is to start with November 25, 1963 and go from there ideologically. Yes, November 25, not November 22. Because one good place to start is with the Katzenbach memo.
On November 25, then-Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach wrote a memo to Bill Moyers (yes, that Bill Moyers) with the following prescription:
It is important that all of the facts surrounding President Kennedy's Assassination be made public in a way which will satisfy people in the United States and abroad that all the facts have been told and that a statement to this effect be made now.
For his part, J. Edgar Hoover concurred: “The thing I am most concerned about, and so is Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.”
Hoover had not been shy about using his power to intimidate those who would promote ideas not to his liking. In 1950, a book critical of the FBI written by Max Lowenthal went to press. Hoover first went after the publisher, William Sloane & Associates, to get the book stopped. When that failed and the book was published, “…Hoover sicced his press dogs – Fulton Lewis, Jr., George Sokolosky, and Walter Trohan, to name three – on Lowenthal and smear him as a Communist sympathizer, Moscow lackey, and worse.” (Turner 123).
Was the CIA any better? In 1967, a famous memo (which mentioned Mark Lane by name) came out listing several ways to attach critics of the Warren Report. Why would such a document be necessary if the government were not attempting to promote one story over another?
So, from the first, the government’s position was to promote the lone assassin theory. Okay, sure, we know that, but that should lend suspicion to all books which promote that theory. If we look at the words Katzenbach used, we are led to understand that he felt the public should be made to understand Oswald’s lone nut status, regardless of the actual facts. (“Speculation about Oswald’s motivation ought to be cut off…”) That means that any book meant to establish that Oswald was a lone nut should be viewed with this perspective in mind, and therefore there is an extra burden of proof to be met. If a writer wants to prove that Oswald was the lone assassin, he or she should be scrupulous in all respects, careful with language, meticulous with evidence, careful about misquoting primary source interviews, and in all ways honest in presentation and detail.
This will rule out Posner, McAdams, Bugliosi, etc.
The lone assassin theory quickly fell apart. Knowing that the public was not buying this story, at least in broad parts of the country, the fallback position became that Oswald was working for the Communists. In the first place, that Oswald was either working on behalf of Castro, or the KGB in some fashion.
We now know that Castro had no reason to kill JFK and in fact reacted with alarm at his passing. He knew that the far more bellicose LBJ would be in power. “Es una mala noticia,” he said, over and over, sitting across from Jean Daniel, the man Kennedy had sent to engineer back-door talks. You can read Daniel’s own account here.
In fact, Castro believed in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy and investigated it himself.
Among the newly released documents was a June 17, 1964, report from the late J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, which imparted information gleaned from an unnamed FBI source whom Hoover deemed "reliable."
The document said that Castro ordered his own tests made on a similar rifle and concluded "that Oswald could not have fired three times in succession and hit the target with the telescopic sight in the available time" and that therefore "it took about three people."
He further elaborates on his view in this article:
I asked Fidel why he thought Oswald could not have acted alone. He proceeded to tell the table a long and discursive story about an experiment he staged, after the assassination, to see if it were possible for a sniper to shoot Kennedy in the manner the assassination was alleged to have happened. “We had trained our people in the mountains during the war”—the Cuban revolution—“on these kind of telescopic sights. So we knew about this kind of shooting. We tried to recreate the circumstances of this shooting, but it wasn’t possible for one man to do. The news I had received is that one man killed Kennedy in his car with a rifle, but I deducted that this story was manufactured to fool people.”
The Soviets-killed-Kennedy story did gain some favor with the government. However, Krushchev’s reaction was similar to that of Castro, although more extreme. “Hearing the news from Dallas, Krushchev broke down and sobbed at the Kremlin…For several days, he was unable to perform his duties. Kruschev was convinced that Kennedy was killed by militaristic forces in Washington bent on sabotaging the two leader’s efforts to reach détente.” (Talbot 253) Although this theory is favored by some right-wing groups, it is incoherent. If Kennedy was such a Communist, why would he be murdered by the Communists? Especially by Communists who expressed devastation upon the murder.
How far afield does this line of reasoning get? In one instance, a researcher states that Kruschev made screaming threats against Mary Meyer. Yeah.
But in the context of the Cold War, you can see how the government might want to retreat to this position. Unfortunately, nobody was buying this story either, and in the 1970s public pressure led to the creation of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Eventually led by Robert Blakey, the HSCA was forced to conclude there was more than one shooter based on some audio evidence provided by a police dictabelt. And, in the wake of the HSCA, the favorite explanation shifted from the Communists to the Mafia. Blakey himself would later write a book explaining that the Mafia Did It.
There came a slew of such books, all of them arguing that some Mafia stooge killed Kennedy. It certainly seems as though elements of the Mafia were involved in the periphery of the assassination, although hardly front and center. The reason why was stated extremely well by Jim Garrison himself in On the Trail of the Assassins:
“…the best-established historical examples of positive association between the Mafia and elements of the U.S. government are ones in which the Mafia served as the junior partner:
In none of these cases was the Mafia dominant over the government; in none did the Mafia provide the motivation for the relationship or the leadership within it.” (emphasis mine; Garrison 303)
And with that, I think, we can dispense with Mafia-Did-It.
After Oliver Stone’s film JFK, and the release of millions of pages of documents in the wake of the ARRB, we have had a series of brilliant books written with the context these documents provide. To somewhat counteract that position, the government took two tacts: one, I believe, was to go back to the Warren Report and pretend the thirty-plus years of research didn’t happen; the other was to promote the theory of LBJ-Did-It.
LBJ-Did-It proves a useful cover because, even though it supports a conspiracy position, it concentrates the conspiracy in Texas without necessarily implicating other parts of the government. Phil Nelson has been a strong supporter of this line (I dealt with his inane first book, LBJ Mastermind of the JFK Assassination, in my book Dissenting Views II.) Roger Stone, in collaboration with his toady Robert Morrow, has entered the fray promoting these ideas as well. (It goes without saying that all these books tend to spend a lot of time promoting the idea that Kennedy slept with lots of women, did drugs, and wasn’t any better than anyone else, etc., as if smearing the target will absolve the crime.)
It is probably the last bastion in this long retreat, the line that will be forcefully defended because if LBJ-Did-It falls apart, there isn’t anywhere to go. The magic words CIA and – horror of horrors – The Pentagon will have to be uttered.
And if that happens, to quote James McCord, “every tree in the forest will fall.”
So there aren’t actually too many books to read out there, although there are some excellent ones. I think they fall into categories, depending on what it is you're looking for.
For an introduction to the case, it is hard to beat JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglas, which will appeal to the general historian as well as someone specifically interested in the case, and is beautifully written. I would also suggest Conspiracy by Anthony Summers (avoid the re-release, Not in Our Lifetime), and Into the Nightmare by Joseph McBride. Both books have interviews with people crucial to the case that cannot be found elsewhere, while also providing a lot of context to understand the assassination. The other book that serves as a good introduction is JFK: the Book of the Film, by Oliver Stone and Zachary Sklar, which features a ton of essays both pro and con and is useful for identifying both the heroes and villains of this research drama. The book I quoted earlier, On the Trail of the Assassins, is a fine work although one should be aware that there was deep division among the researchers as to whether Garrison was hurtful or helpful. This clash was very well documented in John Kelin's excellent Praise from a Future Generation.
Arguably the best book ever written on the assassination is Accessories After the Fact by Sylvia Meagher. It is meticulously detailed in its analysis, and admirably restrained, and for pure content is still certainly among the best, I think.
Other indispensable books, in my view, include: Destiny Betrayed and Reclaiming Parkland by Jim DiEugenio, as well as The Assassinations, edited by DiEugenio and Lisa Pease but also including essays by Doug Valentine, Douglas, and others; Harvey & Lee, by John Armstrong, because of all the incredible interviews and documentation, whether you buy the premise or not; Survivor’s Guilt, by Vince Palamara because it has interviews no one else has, and fits hand-in-glove with The Echo in Dealey Plaza by Abraham Bolden; Breach of Trust, by Gerald McKnight, which gives the most detailed account of what happened during the Warren Commission available; The Last Investigation by Gaeton Fonzi, who was an investigator for the HSCA and whose book is one of the greatest ever written on the case; History Will Not Absolve Us, by E. Martin Schotz, and False Mystery by Vince Salandria, which both take a psychological approach; Brothers, by David Talbot, which traces Bobby Kennedy’s view and actions following the assassination; The Search for Lee Harvey Oswald, by Robert Groden, which has a ton of great photos; and Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, by Peter Dale Scott, who provides much useful academic analysis of the underlying power structure of the assassination, even if I disagree with him on some points.
One writer who has been a huge influence on me (although I never knew him) was Penn Jones, who wrote the series called Forgive My Grief. His influence came to me via John Judge, who kept a promise made to Penn to go to the grassy knoll every year on the anniversary of Kennedy's assassination. The books are probably of interest more to the historian of the assassination than a brand new researcher, but I retain an affection and deep respect for his work. It is partly based on Penn Jones's series that I decided to continue the tradition with my Dissenting Views volumes, and will keep producing those as long as I am able.
Anyway, there are lots of other books out there (and I own a lot of them) but this would be a solid library for anyone, I would think. And it eliminates the books that we can be pretty sure are being backed by the government, either directly or indirectly, by the theses they keep. Or so I would suggest.
Of course, there’s a new one by Talbot covering Allen Dulles, who should be near or at the top of anyone’s suspect list in the Kennedy assassination, and I’m looking forward to reviewing that at the beginning of 2016.
Garrison, Jim. On the Trail of the Assassins (Skyhorse Edition: New York 2012).
Talbot, David. Brothers (Free Press: New York 2007).
Turner, William. Hoover's FBI (Thunder's Mouth Press: New York 1993).
I had a book signing at the Austin Half-Price Books location on N Lamar. Had a lot of fun talking to people and selling some books. Thanks to Zachary at Half-Price for making it happen and being so accommodating.
That's my wife, Faith, AKA the Intimacy Doctor. She brought the tablecloth, candy, and chalkboard, and got the design for my "meet the author" card printed. I know, I'm lucky. Also thanks to Joyce Tamayo for the design and for James and Bethany Dickey & George and Erin Hill for coming by!
Also got a visit from the artist and JFK researcher Richard Bartholomew. Richard and I have known each other for a few years, including a stint in Jeff Worcester's JFKMI group. If you don't know his work, you should. Here's a couple of links:
BARTHOLOVIEWS (Cartoon work)
Possible Discovery of an Automobile Used in the JFK Conspiracy
I made a few new readers yesterday, which is always nice, including a Pakistani woman who quizzed me a little about world events and then decided to pick up the book. She bought DVII, so if nothing else I feel like I'm passing on a little information about John Judge, since there's a piece about him and an interview with him in that one.
This is Joe Green's blog.