It’s been nearly 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated during a visit to Dallas, Tex., but the case continues to fascinate.
How could such a thing have happened? More importantly, who did it?
The evidence, initially compiled by the Warren Commission, a special group of distinguished Americans led by Chief Justice Earl Warren and appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to investigate and then report to the nation, points directly at Lee Harvey Oswald, a malcontent with Russian and Cuban sympathies.
But a cottage industry proffering conspiracy theories has developed around the case, and much of the public and popular culture (Oliver Stone’s controversial movie “JFK” is Exhibit A) rejects the official conclusion that Oswald killed Kennedy and acted alone.
It’s enough to make a pseudo-intellectual’s head spin. Thankfully “Four Days in November” by Vincent Bugliosi provides an interesting and comprehensive recitation of events. That’s why it’s the latest recommendation from Jim’s Pseudo-Intellectual Book Club.
This is a must-read for those too young to be familiar with what happened but want to know or those who remember but still have questions.
A high-profile California lawyer, Bugliosi prosecuted the Charles Manson case and then wrote a bestseller, “Helter Skelter,” about it. He’s always has been fascinated by the case and once prosecuted Oswald in a mock trial broadcast on British television, taking on famed defense lawyer Gerry Spence.
Bugliosi won a conviction of Oswald in the TV epic, but he remained frustrated by what he considers widespread misconceptions about the Kennedy assassination.
So he spent years writing and researching “Reclaiming History,” a 1,000-page plus tome that includes not only an examination of the events in Dallas that demonstrates Oswald’s guilt but a detailed study of the various conspiracy theories that shows why there is no substance to them.
“Reclaiming History” is simply too exhaustive to recommend to a general audience. But “Four Days in November,” a narrative account of the activities of the major players in this drama excerpted from the larger work, is not.
Questions abound about the assassination, mostly because Oswald was shot to death two days later by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby. Because there was no public trial, there was no finality that would have eased public concerns.
“Four Days in November” provides a minute-by-minute account of the activities of all the major actors in this drama — everyone from Kennedy and Oswald to chief Dallas police investigator Will Fritz and Oswald’s mother and wife.
It is an outstanding narrative account of a cataclysmic historical event, and it is copiously documented. Even though everyone knows how it ends, “Four Days in November” is a real page-turner.
Here are previous recommendations from Jim’s Pseudo-Intellectual Book Club.
[-] “Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission” by Hampton Sides.
[-] “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” by Edmund Morris.
[-] “A Night to Remember” by Walter Lord.
[-] “April 1865: The Month That Saved America” by Jay Winik.
[-] “Seabiscuit: An American Legend” by Laura Hillenbrand.
[-] “Lindbergh” by A. Scott Berg.
[-] “The Kennedy Men: 1901-1963” by Laurence Leamer.
[-] “The Brother: The Untold Story of the Rosenberg Case” by Sam Roberts.
[-] “Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy” by Jane Leavy.
[-] “Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions” by Ben Mezrich.
[-] “Harry & Ike: The Partnership That Remade the Post-War World” by Steve Neal.
[-] “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis.
[-] “Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone” by Martin Dugard.
[-] “In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors” by Doug Stanton.
[-] “Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34.” by Bryan Burrough.
[-] “Flags of our Fathers,” by James Bradley.
[-] “Cary Grant: A Biography” by Marc Elliot.
[-] “Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager” by Buzz Bissinger.
[-] “Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York” by Kenneth Ackerman.
[-] “They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967” by David Maraniss.
[-] “Flashman” (a novel) by George MacDonald Fraser.
[-] “Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling and A World on the Brink” by David Margolick.
[-] “Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics and the Battle for the Soul of a City” by Jonathan Mahler.
[-] “Five Families: the Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires” by Selwyn Raab.
[-] “The Rivalry: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and the Golden Age of Basketball.” by John Taylor.
[-] “American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies” by Michael Kauffman.
[[-] “The Looming Tower: al-Qaida and the Road to 9/11” by Lawrence Wright.
[- ) “A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood’s Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports” by Brad Snyder.
[-] “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game” by Michael Lewis.
[-] “The Education of a Coach” by David Halberstam.
[-] “Arc of Justice: A Sage of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age” by Kevin Boyle
[-] “The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived The Great American Dust Bowl” by Timothy Egan.
[-] “The Wrong Man: The Final Verdict on the Dr. Sam Sheppard Murder Case” by James Neff.
[-] “The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House” by John Harris.
[–] “FDR” by Jean Edward Smith
(-) “The Unlikely Spy” (a novel) by Daniel Silva.
(-) “Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love and Betrayal” by Ben Macintyre
(-) “The Interpretation of Murder” (a novel) by Jed Rubenfeld
(-) “The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country” by Laton McCartney.
(-) “The Last Great Fight: The Extraordinary Tale of Two Men and How One Fight Changes Their Lives Forever”
by Joe Layden.
(-) “The Best Game Ever: Giants vs. Colts, 1958 and the Birth of the Modern NFL” by Mark Bowden.
(-) “Making Jack Falcone: An Undercover FBI Agent Takes Down a Mafia Family” by Joaquin “Jack” Garcia.
(-) “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer
(-) “Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi” by Neal Bascomb
(—) “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Goodwin.
(—) “His Excellency: George Washington” by Joseph Ellis.
(—) “Clemente” by David Maraniss
(—) “An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963” by Robert Dallek
(-) “Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination” by Neal Gabler.
(-) “Tears in the Darkness” by Michael and Elizabeth Norman
(—) “The Scarecrow” by Michael Connelly (mystery novel).