The Assassination of JFK by Robert A. Wagner

The Assassination of JFK

Perspectives Half a Century Later
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A researcher examines competing theories regarding the John F. Kennedy assassination and concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

In this debut history book, Wagner takes a retrospective look at the Kennedy assassination, the multiple and conflicting investigations of the death, and the perennially popular conspiracy theories that have grown out of it. The author has conducted thorough research and draws on a wide swath of the unending supply of volumes on the subject, and his book is meticulously footnoted and endnoted, with substantial excerpts of the Warren Report and other primary sources included throughout the text. The work explores key elements of the assassination itself, the subsequent autopsies, and the different conclusions reached by the Warren Commission and by the House Select Committee on Assassinations a decade later. Familiar elements of the story, from the grassy knoll to the pristine bullet to the Texas Book Depository, all play their roles in Wagner’s account. The author also explores assertions about Oswald’s past: “Oswald was no stranger to careful assassination plan­ning…it was learned that earlier in 1963, Oswald had attempted to kill Major General Edwin Walker. General Walker had been active in right-wing causes before and after his resignation from the US Army in 1961.” While the focus on minutiae can occasionally be overwhelming, with time measured not in minutes or seconds but in frames of the Zapruder film, Wagner provides enough information to justify his arguments in favor of a single-shooter theory that does not rely on one bullet striking both Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally, the version of events accepted by the Warren Report. The author does not attempt to read the minds of the participants at a half-century’s remove but offers a measured appraisal of motivating factors, including the appointment of former CIA Director Allen Dulles to the Warren Commission (“Sure, the ‘retired’ Dulles may have had some time on his hands, but putting him on the inside may have been less risky than having him on the outside as a presidential commission did its work”). In clear and persuasive prose, Wagner presents a levelheaded analysis of some of the most scrutinized evidence of the 20th century, acknowledging the valid concerns raised by critics of the official reports while refraining from excessively incredulous conspiracy theories and interpretations.

A well-researched, if extremely lengthy, book that provides a solid analysis of the Kennedy assassination evidence and reports.

Page count: 490pp
Publisher: Dog Ear
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2017


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