Saturday, October 26, 2013

Not in Your Lifetime by Anthony Summers

I remember exactly where I was that day when the announcement came over the high school intercom. The President had been shot. As the events unfolded and investigation ensued, it all seemed too simple, even to my teen-aged mind. Over the years I've read many books on the assassination, feeding my suspicion that there was much more to the event and its aftermath than the government wanted us to know. Summers provides us with the latest information on a possible conspiracy in this updated edition of his book.

Summers documents the sloppy police procedure following Kennedy's assassination, the destruction of evidence, and a botched autopsy. He reminds us of the conflicting eyewitness reports as to the origin of the shots. He reviews the photographic evidence. He writes of the evidence ignored and/or suppressed by the Warren Commission. There was gross deception by the CIA, refusal by agencies to release documents, the FBI changing its story, erased tapes, missing documents, and more.

The Warren Commission did such a poor job the House overwhelmingly voted to open an investigation into the assassination in 1976. The House Assassinations Committee report of 1979 replaced the Warren Commission's certainty of a sole assassin with a web of suspicion. It found that the assassination evidence pointed to a conspiracy. It added suspicion to the role of Jack Ruby. “Ruby's apparent connections [with organized crime and Cuba] led to the core of the most enduring suspicions as to who really killed Kennedy.” (309) The Assassinations Committee concluded that the CIA-Mafia Cuba plots “had all the elements necessary for a successful assassination conspiracy...” (339)

So who killed Kennedy? We may never know. Summers explores the Mafia connections, the CIA secret activities, and the Cuban possibilities. At the end of each chapter I knew there was certainly enough evidence about that group that they could have organized the death. Like Summers, I kept asking, were these all coincidences or evidence of a conspiracy?

As a judge said about the possibility of making some documents available to public scrutiny, “Not in your lifetime.” (This despite the JFK Records Act of 1992.) And the individuals who may have had personal knowledge of the assassination are all dead. So there is no place to look for more revealing evidence. We do know there are just too many strange circumstances associated with the assassination and subsequent investigations to make it the simple act of an individual. Was is the Mob? Castro? A government agency? We'll never know.

It has been fifty years since the assassination so why is it important to read about it now? Summers suggests that this era in U.S. history was a turning point. It was at this point that citizens began to disbelieve in the credibility of government institutions. Reading this book will give you a good idea why that is so.

Don't be put off by the page count of this book. The actual text is about half the book (340 pages) while the rest includes photos, notes, bibliography, etc.

Anthony Summers is the author of eight books. His book on the 9/11 attacks, The Eleventh Day, was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for History and won the Golden Dagger award for the best crime nonfiction of the year. The first edition of this book was also awarded the Golden Dagger.

Open Road Media, 620 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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