The AARC offers the following platform from its Board members and associates as a service to those who may be new to the study of political assassinations. Featured are top choices from members and associates of the AARC Executive Board. Disclaimer: The selections have been made by individual Board members or their associates as potential study sources, and do not represent official endorsements by the AARC.
Bill Kelly. Reading list. 7-15-15
Bill Kelly’s Best Books on the Assassination of President Kennedy
William E. Kelly: An Independent researcher; founder, Committee for an Open Archive; co-founder, Coalition on Political Assassinations. Bill’s current focus includes the November 22nd Air Force One cockpit tapes which have never been fully released, and which he believes “are the black box of the Kennedy assassination.” Bill is the co-founder of CAPA, Committee Against Political Assassinations. His blogs and archives represent some of the web’s most comprehensive and valuable resources on the study of President Kennedy’s assassination:
He is also the author of “The Summer of ’65 Revisited – Serial Blog”
The best book on the JFK Assassination has yet to be written – the one that solves the crime to a legal and moral certainty.
In the meantime we have hundreds of books that stand out from the estimated over two thousand books that have been published on the subject of the president’s assassination, of which I have selected a dozen or so for each of three categories – the official version of events and mainstream interpretations, critical conspiracy theories, which comprise most of the books familiar to anyone who has an interest in the topic.
There’s no particular order, though I would like to see an complete bibliography – the closest I’ve come across was the House Select Committee’s duel bibliographies – one chronologically from the date of publication and the other by author, but that only goes up to 1978, and someone with time on their hands should update those lists to make them worthwhile to researchers.
A – Official Version
1. – Warren Report
2. – Inquest by Edward J. Epstein
3. – Phil Shennon’s A Cruel and Shocking Act
4. – Reclaiming History by Vincent Bugliosi
5. – Lee – by Robert Oswald
6. – Lee and Marina – Priscilla Johnson McMillan
7. – Real Answers – Gary Cornwell
8. – Oswald’s Politics – By Gary W. O’Brien
9. – First Day Evidence – Chief Jesse Curry
10. – Oswald’s Game – Jean Davison
11. – Mrs. Paine’s Garage – Thomas Mallon
12. – Gerald Posner’s Case Closed
13. – Carlos Bringuier – Red Friday
B – Critical and Conspiratorial
I put Tony Summers’ books first because I do think they are the best and most “definitive,” and I enjoyed working with him at the Assassination Archives and Research Center when he was researching the Vanity Fair article and updating “Conspiracy” for “Not In Your Lifetime.”
The others are in no particular order, though I have grouped together all the Mafia books that I will comment on in more depth later.
– Anthony Summers’ “Conspiracy” and “Not In Your Lifetime”
– Church Committee Reports
– HSCA Reports
– Josiah Thompson – “Six Seconds In Dallas”
– James Douglas’ – “JFK and the Unspeakable”
– David Talbot – “Brothers”
– Jeff Morley – “Our Man in Mexico”
– John Newman – “Oswald and the CIA”
– Larry Hancock – “Someone Would Have Talked”
– Robert Groden – “Absolute Proof”
– Bill Turner – The Fish is Red/Rearview Mirror/
– Lamar Waldron and the Mafia Crowd
– Joan Mellen – “Our Man in Haiti”
– Phil Melanson – “Spy Saga”
– Phil Nelson and LBJ “The Mastermind”
– Jim DiEugenio, Lisa Pease – “The Assassinations”
– Dick Russell – On the Trail of the JFK Assassins/ The Man Who Knew Too Much
– Howard Roffman’s Presumed Guilty
– Penn Jones – Forgive My Grief
– Howard Weisberg – Whitewash
While both of these categories contain books that go in depth and detail on who they propose killed JFK and why they did it, I have devised a third category of books that are required reading if you want to know how – that’s HOW JFK was killed.
At the very first meeting of the Warren Commission Allen Dulles brought with him a copy of a book “The Assassins of American Presidents” (Elek Books, London, 1956) by James Donovan, who later was the author of PT-109.
In a conversation with other commissioners Dulles called attention to the book and the idea it expressed – that American assassins were, unlike European and Asian assassins, uniquely deranged loners rather than part of a political conspiracy.
As this idea sunk in, Commissioner John J. McCloy, himself a party to many political conspiracies, disagreed and called attention to the fact that others besides John Wilkes Booth were hung for their role in the conspiracy to kill Lincoln, but Dulles persisted in propagating the idea of the deranged lone assassin. Dulles has firmly embraced the alternative Deranged Lone-Nut cover-story even though many in his former agency – the CIA, were still entertaining and promoting the original cover story that pro-Castro Cuban Communists were behind the Dealey Plaza operation.
In Peter Dale Scott’s terms, LBJ rejected the “Phase-One” Castro Cuban Committee cover story and instead went with the Deranged Lone Nut alternative in order to avoid war with the Cubans and Soviets, a nuclear war that would cost the lives of millions, an argument he used to enlist Earl Warren and the Warren Commissioners.
Dulles, following LBJ’s lead, rejected the original cover story, not because as LBJ put it – it would lead to war, but because what happened at Dealey Plaza, in Dulles’ view, could not even be perceived as a covert intelligence operation at all, and had to be viewed as the spontaneous actions of a deranged loner nut – or all of the other on going historical covert operations would be exposed.
Now, a half-century later, those historic covert operations been exposed – Operation Success in Guatemala, the U2, Bay of Pigs, Watergate, MKULTRA, Iran-Contra, etc., and now whatever happened at Dealey Plaza must also be universally viewed as a covert intelligence operation even if it was carried out by one lone wolf assassin.
The book that Dulles should have taken to the first meeting of the Warren Commission is the Sun Tzu, the book that he promotes in his book “The Craft of Intelligence,” even if only to read the chapter on “The Employment of Secret Agents.”
Sun Tzu was a fourth century BC military strategist whose book “The Art of War” emphasized the idea that the army “was the instrument that delivered the coup de grace to an enemy previously made vulnerable. Prior to hostilities, secret agents separated the enemy’s allies from him and conducted a variety of clandestine subversive activities. Among their missions were to spread false rumors and misleading information, to corrupt and subvert officials, to create and exacerbate internal discord, and to nurture Fifth Columns. Meanwhile, spies, active at all levels, ascertained the enemy situation.”
Sun Tzu said:
What is called ‘foreknowledge’ cannot be elicited from spirits, nor from Gods, nor by analogy with past events, nor from calculations. It must be obtained from those who know the situation.
Now there are five sorts of secret agents to be employed. There are native, inside, double, expendable and living.
When those five types of agents are all working simultaneously and no one knows their method of operations they are called ‘The Divine Skein’ and are the treasure of the sovereign.
(Note: The idea is that information may be gathered in as fish are by pulling on a single cord and so drawing together the various threads of a net.) [And hence the concept of an intelligence network]
A. Native Agents are those of the enemy country people whom we employ.
B. Inside Agents are enemy officials whom we employ.
C. Doubled Agents are enemy agents whom we employ.
D. Expendable Agents are those of our own spies who are deliberately given fabricated information to pass on to the enemy.
E. Living Agents are those who return from enemy territory with information.
If plans relating to secret operations are prematurely divulged the agent and all those to whom he spoke shall be put to death.
Generally, in the case of armies, you wish to strike, cities you wish to attack, and people you wish to assassinate, you must know the names of the garrison commander, the staff officer, the ushers, gate keepers and body guards. You must instruct your agents to inquire into those matters in minute detail.
So Allen Dulles’ “The Crafts of Intelligence” and Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” are two of the books that are required reading to understand how the assassination of JFK was conducted and carried out.
In his book Dulles’ explains how the basic concepts on the employment of secret agents as expressed by Sun Tzu over two thousand years ago are still utilized today, although they have been enhanced and refined, especially by developing technology.
Dulles also stresses the idea the “crafts” employed by intelligence agents are not unique to the CIA but are utilized by every nation’s intelligence agency in the world.
While secret operations pretty much escaped historical and news media attention until recent times, one of the first and best books on the subject is “The Invisible Government” by David Wise and Thomas Ross, that the CIA tried but failed to suppress, and touches on the CIA in Guatemala, Cuba and Iran, and blew the cover of dozens of CIA fronts and assets.
“The Craft of Intelligence” by Allen Dulles
“The Art of War” by Sun Tzu
“The Invisible Government” by David Wise and Thomas Ross
Then there are a number of books by CIA insiders who give us a remarkably clear view of what they were doing, like David Atlee Phillips’ “Nightwatch” – subtitled “Twenty Years of Peculiar Service,” and peculiar it is for giving out so much despite being officially approved by CIA censors.
“Nightwatch” – David Atlee Phillips
Among the non-approved books are Phil Agee “Inside the Company,” Kim Philby’s “My Silent War” and Donald Baine’s “Candy Jones,” the last of which gives a good account of “Expendable Agents.” Brad Ayers’ “The War that Never Was” and “The Zenith Secret.” Since Ayers’ was an US Army Ranger captain assigned to the CIA’s JMWAVE station to train Cuban commandos in small arms and maritime tactics, he hadn’t signed the CIA’s employee contract to have all writings for publication approved by the CIA.
Phil Agee –
Kim Philby – “My Silent War”
Donald Baine – “Candy Jones.”
Bradley Ayers – “War that Never Was” and “The Zenith Secret.”
So how convenient was it for the CIA when Ayers’ first publisher – Bobbs-Merrell, of Indiana, who maintained an office and had employes at the Texas School Book Depository, hired William Harvey as their legal counsel and had Ayers’ book run past legal before they published it. According to Ayers, he didn’t know that Harvey, former chief of operations at JMWAVE, left the CIA to work for Bobbs-Merrell and Harvey proof-read his manuscript, but he did notice some major changes – like the elimination of any mention of some of the CIA officers he worked with on the Cuban operations.
Once Ayers learned of Harvey’s treachery, he re-wrote the book as “The Zenith Secret” and got a obscure Brooklyn corner store to publish it before retreating back to his remote hunters cabin in the wilderness.
The best of the lot of those books officially approved by the CIA is Joseph Smith’s “Portrait of a Cold Warrior,” that details some of the Catherwood’s CIA cover activities in the Philippines, the CIA’s Cuban operations, the exposure of the Venezuelan Arms Cache as a possible North woods type provocation, and the formal education of a Cold Warrior by Paul Linebarger, the CIA’s master propagandist and psych-warrior.
Smith tells us that Linebarger, who trained three generations of Cold Warriors in the crafts of the black arts, as he called them, not only used his own textbook on Propaganda and Psychological Warfare, but also used David Maurer’s “The Big Con” as a key reference book.
Maurer was a Kentucky linguist whose study of street slang led him to uncover an underground network of big time confidence men who practiced the type of deception employed in the movie The Sting.
Joseph Smith – “Portrait of a Cold Warrior”
Paul Linebarger – “Propaganda”
David Maurer – “The Big Con”
Maurer’s book underlines the importance of language, the words we use and the names we ascribe to things, and how its necessary to understand the unique slang and codes used among those committing criminal enterprises to communicate yet to conceal their activities.
How the CIA does this and how the Big Con confidence men did it are remarkably similar – as both the Big Con and the officers at JMWAVE both utilized “Inside” and “Outside” operators, and each person in the Big Con game had a specific job and purpose.
Even the fake storefronts were employed, like the fake betting joint in the Sting and the false Zenith Technical Services front used at JMWAVE.
And just as David Maurer had to learn the lingo used by the con artists before he could understand the nature of the Big Con and how it works, those who want to understand how the Dealey Plaza operation was planned and conducted must learn the covert language and lingo used by intelligence agents and operatives, and its not that difficult.
“Our Man in Acapulco” is the 12th and final book you must read to understand how JFK was killed a the authorized biography of Col. Frank M. “Brandy” Brandstetter not only shows you how one link in the intelligence net is connected to all of the others, and how all of the good fish are collected together and processed at one place where the intelligence is analyzed.
Brandy, a Dallas Texan, was at the epicenter of things as the manager of the Havana Hilton when Castro made it his headquarters in the early days of the regime.
But Brandy reported not to the CIA, but to Col. William B. Rose at the office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence for the US Army Reserves at the Pentagon – https://jfkcountercoup.wordpress.com/2010/12/29/614/
That just happens to be the same place where other relevant Colonels also reported, including Sam Kail of Havana embassy fame, Jack Crichton, who ran the Dallas CD Shelter and controlled Marina’s early testimony, Lawrence Orlov, who visited Oswald with George deMohrenschildt, and Col. George L. Whitmeyer, who led the motorcade in the Pilot Car.
So there you have it – the top dozen books you have on the official version of the assassination, the top twelve critics and conspiracy theories that tell you who killed JFK and why, and the twelve books you need to read if you want to know how JFK was killed.
David R. Wrone. Reading list. 2-25-15
The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
David R. Wrone, Ph.D is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, recipient of the “Excellence in Teaching Award” for 1969-1970 and the “Scholar Award” for 1993-1994, a specialist in the fields of Native American history and political assassinations, and the author of 2003’s The Zapruder Film: Reframing JFK’s Assassination.
The Warren Report is the key official document that governs public officials and the Courts today. Its doctrines still inform intellectual, academic, and politicians’ minds.
Basic reading for any study of the assassination.
1. Report of the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1964. 912 pp. The Warren Report.
Books & video critical of the Report that determine with brilliant, impeccable scholarship that: a) the Report is a dedicated cover-up of the crime; b) that the crime was never truly investigated; c) that every basic institution of the nation through their inherent flaws imposed by a generation of reactionary federal pressures failed the nation.
2. Harold Weisberg, Whitewash I. Frederick, MD: self-published, 1965, many later editions.
3. Sylvia Meagher, Accessories After the Fact. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1967.
4. Howard Roffman, Presumed Guilty. Cranbury, NJ: University Press, 1975. See web where it is reproduced.
5. Chip Selby, Reasonable Doubt: the Single Bullet Theory. Video. 1995
6. Harold Weisberg, Never Again! New York: Carroll & Graf, 1995.
7. Essays of Hal Verb, Ferrell and Hood College repositories, web sites. Apx 30.
8. Ben Wecht, producer, Into Evidence Truths, Lies and unresolved mysteries in the murder of JFK. Duquesne: Wecht Forensic Institute, multiple volumes. Indispensable proceedings of a major conference presenting many key developments and understandings arrived in the 40 years of study.
9. David R. Wrone, The Zapruder Film. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003.
10. Gerald D. McKnight, Breach of Trust. How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2005, updated 2013.