Monday, November 18, 2013

November 22, 1963

Fifty years after President Kennedy decided to make his fateful trip to Dallas; questions surrounding his assassination continue to multiply. Like cracks growing from a single rock thrown into a stain glass window, questions surrounding his assassination still branch out and multiply. Historians, conspiracy theorists and political pundits have queried every aspect of the President’s murder. Was there a single shooter, or several? If there was a single shooter was it really Oswald? If Oswald was the actual shooter, did he act alone or was he merely a patsy for an individual or a shadowy cabal? If there was a conspiracy, was it the CIA, the Mob, or a foreign power? Why did the President even visit a city that was so demonstratively hostile to him and his presidency? Each question produces another possibility which in turn creates more questions. The cracks emanate outward from the hole and each crack branches out to dozens of splits and fissures until the stain glass is covered in sharp, blinding lines that obscure the figure beneath.

At this point I’m not certain we’ll ever have a single, definitive answer to any of the multitudinous questions hovering around the assassination. I am certain that even if such an answer was discovered, it would not be universally accepted. Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to tease the occasional discovery from the event, and publish new books on the topic.

One of my favorite titles from the recent crop of assassination books is The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ. Straight and to the point. Authors Roger Stone and Mike Colapietro present evidence from LBJ’s mistress that the Vice President was involved in the assassination.

One of the more visually stunning books is Life magazine’s The Day Kennedy Died. As one would expect, this Life volume consist of numerous photographs, but this title also reproduces, in special folded sections, each frame of the infamous Zapruder film.

There are two relatively new eyewitness accounts. November 22, 1963 Witness to History is by photographer Hugh Aynesworth who witnessed the assassination of President Kennedy, the arrest of Oswald and Oswald’s murder. The Kennedy Detail is by Gerald Blaine who served on the Presidential detail on the historic day in Dallas. Blaine’s book covers not only the events of the assassination, but the emotions of the men who were charged with protecting the President.

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters is written by local historian James Douglass. Douglass argues that Kennedy was assassinated because he preferred a peaceful end to the Cold War, and opposed a confrontational stance similar to that which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

There are numerous books and DVDs on Lee Harvey Oswald. One unique view is presented in the 2008 DVD Oswald's Ghost. This PBS production explores, through archival footage and contemporary interviews, how people view the theory of a lone gunman.

The Kennedy assassination is the plot of far too many novels for me to mention here except to share my personal favorite, The Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry, and remind you that Stephen King has also delved into this subject.


Submitted by David Ryan
Business, Science and Technology Department
Central Library

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