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Brown (The People v. Lee Harvey Oswald, 1992) covers all the conspiracy bases. Was it the CIA? Organized crime? The Cubans? The FBI? The KGB? Castro? Secret Service? Richard Nixon? Texas oil money, maybe allied with right-wingers? Lyndon Johnson? And what role did the Dallas police play? Brown is steeped in the assassination lore of what he calls the ""research community,"" and this book is systematic and compelling in relaying the myriad ""and what about the . . ."" factoids that have glommed to the investigation like limpets in a scow. Brown covers each possibility, giving a thumbs up or down in an ""analysis"" section. He occasionally plies Ockham--""there is no excess without necessity""--to good effect; but with his flippant tone, he is more frequently guilty of reductio ad absurdum: ""As no theory regarding the planet Pluto has been proven, we may therefore conclude that the creation of the ninth planet was the work of a lone assassin."" Some conclusions: The FBI knew about assassination plans in advance but said nothing and bungled the investigation. The Cubans didn't do it, they would have boasted. Organized crime had the money and clout to achieve their ends democratically (surely this applies to the Texas oil money Brown prefers to finger, too?). Rogue elements in the Dallas police played a sinister role. In fact, blue death, as he calls it, fired the shots. Brown also retails the palpably false idea that Oswald didn't have a motive. Correction: Oswald didn't have a motive that could easily translate to the silver screen (see Norman Mailer, Oswald's Tale, p. 363). A fun book, amusingly written, a useful roundup. It is, in fact, a species of cocktail, involving a plethora of different theories all poured from colorful bottles behind the bar. Read it for a salutary jolt of conspiracy, stirred, not shaken.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Carroll & Graf