An eyewitness rehash of the John F. Kennedy assassination.
Veteran journalist Aynesworth (JFK: Breaking the News, 2003, etc.), then a reporter with the Dallas Morning News, was not on assignment but chatting with friends in Dealey Plaza when JFK was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald. With a pencil bought from a nearby child, he began taking notes on the backs of utility bills. His eyewitness articles on the assassination and both the arrest and killing of Oswald won him accolades as the reporter who owned the assassination story. This book, first published 10 years ago and now reissued to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination, offers a vivid recounting of those chaotic days. Many other books offer fuller, more thoughtful accounts, but Aynesworth’s just-the-facts reporting can raise goose bumps. The entire bizarre cast is here: ex-Marine shooter Oswald; strip-club owner Jack Ruby, the unsavory and unstable character who killed the assassin, shouting, “You rat son of a bitch!”; and Marguerite Oswald, the assassin’s combative mother. Readers alive at the time will have forgotten many details, such as the fact that six reporters served as Oswald’s pallbearers. Aynesworth takes delight in noting the inaccuracies in the first report from the scene by United Press International reporter Merriman Smith, who physically prevented the AP reporter from phoning in news of the assassination. The author dismisses all conspiracy theories, blaming them on the “pervasive influence” of Oswald, an “inadequate mope” who appeared incapable of such a crime; Ruby, who acted spontaneously (and did not know Oswald); and the excesses of early conspiracy theorists Mark Lane and Jim Garrison.
A solid tale of a momentous event—for those who need another or want to pick up a few unknown nuggets from a man who was there.