OSWALD AND THE CIA by John Newman

OSWALD AND THE CIA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Intelligence veteran Newman (History/Univ. of Maryland; JFK and Vietnam, 1992) tackles Lee Harvey Oswald ``the file'' rather than ``the man.'' In this case ``the file'' refers to roughly 250,000 pages of documents from the CIA, FBI, DOD, Army, Navy, and the American Embassy in Moscow, recently released by the JFK Assassination Records Review Board. Newman's thesis after ploughing through this mountain of bumf: ``The CIA had a keen operational interest in Lee Harvey Oswald from the day he defected to the Soviet Union in 1959 until the day he was murdered in the basement of the Dallas Police Department.'' Newman bases his case on inferences that follow from paperwork discrepancies. For instance, he makes much of the fact that Oswald was one of 300 people whose mail was opened by the supersecret and illegal HT/LINGUAL program even before his CIA ``201'' file was opened. That is, he seems to have been of intense interest to the CIA before the first evidence of mild interest, normally indicated by the opening of a 201 file. There are intriguing things here, for instance, about the fact that as a former Marine radar operator Oswald possessed limited but potentially explosive information on the U-2 program when he defected. However, much of the book is a wearying trek along the paper trail. Newman has performed a gargantuan digestive task of turning 250,000 pages of documents into a narrative that is at least coherent, if unfocused, and at its best is impressively painstaking. However, at its worst, it seems like an odd and terrifying genetic cross between the Zapruder tape and Warhol's film of a man sleeping. Exhaustive, tedious, and diffuse, this study eschews sensationalism but threatens death by minutiae.

Pub Date: July 14th, 1995
ISBN: 0-7867-0131-5
Page count: 420pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1995




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