THE PEOPLE V. LEE HARVEY OSWALD

HISTORY ON TRIAL

Huge, gripping novelistic work that assembles the most legally relevant information known about Lee Harvey Oswald to see how he would fare if tried for the murder of JFK. While this is not the last word on Oswald, it does present the State of Texas case so thoroughly that few readers will come to a verdict different from Brown's. A former Special Agent of the Justice Department, Brown is a layman, not a lawyer. He imagines that Oswald survives Ruby's bullet, is charged with Kennedy's murder, the attempted assassination of Governor Connally, and the death of Officer Tippett. The Connally and Tippett trials have been separated from the Kennedy trial, however, and will follow it. Brown also imagines that the 27 volumes of the Warren Commission Report have been published. The prosecution goes to trial thinking that the Warren Report and the Dallas police have handed it an open-and-shut case. Quickly, though, the case against Oswald begins to fold, and the reader realizes that an acquittal lies ahead. The story is how the acquittal is brought about despite the seemingly vast case against Oswald. The prosecutor's witnesses turn out invariably to be witnesses for the defense as the discrepancies between the facts and what the witnesses told the Warren Commission destroy the State's evidence against Oswald. It's all bad news for the prosecution: what the Dallas doctors testify to; what the Dealey Plaza witnesses saw and say; the testimony of those who saw Oswald at places he could not have been (implying an Oswald imposter); the many fake Secret Service agents in Dealey Plaza; the worthless autopsy report from Bethesda; and the absence of motive (many witnesses testify that Oswald liked JFK). Oswald's defender believes his client knew about a conspiracy but didn't commit murder—but Oswald's not on trial for conspiracy. A nose-breaking blow to the lone assassin theory.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1992

ISBN: 0-88184-869-7

Page Count: 656

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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