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

The Assassination of JFK


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.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 490

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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