A creative approach to the seemingly bizarre circumstances surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
Undoubtedly, Kennedy’s murder on Nov. 22, 1963, is a wound in America’s national psyche that hasn’t healed. Salerian (POEMS and Paintings for 20,000 Doctors, 2015, etc.) takes this sad truth a step further by classifying it as a tragedy of global proportions. He writes of his own personal reaction in the preface: “I was 16, then living in Istanbul, Turkey, and I cried when JFK died….JFK had given me—and the rest of the planet—hope for a better world.” He then proceeds to dismantle the official narrative of Kennedy’s death through a series of concise chapters with titles such as, “What the Secret Service has to tell us,” “Understanding photograph reconstruction,” and “Premature Deaths of Witnesses and Reporters.” The author even provocatively suggests the term “cerebro-genocide” to describe the obstacles preventing a thorough investigation of what he sees as lingering inconsistencies. He’s eventually led to “the conclusion that many intellectuals with crucial information about JFK’s death were silenced.” Unfortunately, sometimes-faulty punctuation, as well as missing or misspelled words (“By was of summary”), may distract readers, but overall, Salerian still manages to construct a convincing argument. This text may be most valuable as a primer for younger readers who are unfamiliar with the political landscape of the early 1960s and the forces at play around the time of the puzzling, maddening event. What sets this book apart from others of its type is its inclusion of original artwork and poetry; it contrasts nicely with the forensic quality of the prose, yet also draws out its emotional underpinnings. The paintings are mostly untitled, boldly colored, and abstract, and the poems feature narrow columns of text and a plaintive voice calling for peace, justice, and transparency. Fittingly, the first verse of “Naked Village” reads: “Why not to build / A different world / One village at a time / A transparent village / Every nail every stone / Glass columns / Civil servants / And the Army / All naked / Naked weapons / No secrets / No secret tools.”
A curious combination of convincing historical analysis, poetry, and art.