A History of State-Sponsored Murder
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Assassinations are rarely solo affairs carried out by delusional or psychopathic individuals, writes BBC producer Belfield. And if someone tells you that a particular assassination is the work of a crazy, well, he cautions, never assume that things are as they seem.

Take the sad matter of Princess Diana, dead eight years now. An innocent victim, no? Surely she died by the bad luck of being in a car with a drunk driver? Perhaps not, Belfield tantalizingly offers: that official story “is the only scenario for which there is no credible evidence,” whereas that mysterious motorcycle in the tunnel begins to look awfully suspicious. Or take the death of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995: by Belfield’s account, the official explanation that he was killed by lone gunman Yigal Amir does not square with the forensics, which points to the involvement of Israeli intelligence agents. Not only that, Belfield writes, but Amir “was a prominent member of Eyal, a far-right militant Zionist organization, run by a long-term Shabak agent and agent provocateur.” And then there was the whole Libyan hit team in America scenario, the brainchild of some Reagan administration official—except now, a quarter-century later, Libyan agents are our buddies, and they’ve been merrily killing al-Qaeda operatives so American hands don’t have to be dirtied. It’s all enough to give a phone-company-killed-JFK conspiratorialist nightmares and an Occam’s razor literalist pause, but Belfield has some useful documents on hand, not least of them a CIA manual that assures its readers that assassinations, though not for the squeamish, are nothing to be ashamed of. Not that the CIA had a great record of assassination. But then, Belfield shows, neither did the KGB, which succeeded only rarely in doing in its targets, and then mostly by the least cloak-and-daggerish methods. Still, Stalin’s death in 1953 was awfully suspicious. . . .

Keep a tumbler full of salt grains close at hand when reading this. But don’t be quick to dismiss this oddly entertaining éxpose, given how the world just gets stranger and stranger.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-7867-1343-7
Page count: 288pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2005