I wasn’t alive when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on 22nd November, 1963—my parents hadn’t even met. But soon they did, and there in the mid-1960’s, I came wailing into the world.
Growing up, I heard about the JFK assassination often. I was alive for some of the much earlier anniversaries—the 15th, 20th, 25th, the list (obviously) continues. In many ways, these anniversaries mark important periods in my life, like a regularly tolling bell. The one thing that every November 22nd—and especially every “landmark” anniversary—has in common is that there is recognition. People who were sentient on that fateful day remember where they were: at work, at school, eating a cheeseburger.
The world changed that day. The dreams of “Camelot” crumbled, and we went from suave and funny JFK to ungainly and crotchety LBJ within an hour or so.
One of President Johnson’s first acts as Commander-in-Chief was to order a blue ribbon commission—headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren—to investigate the JFK assassination, and to conclude who was responsible.
Their conclusion, of course, was that Lee Harvey Oswald, a twitchy Marxist who’d lived in the USSR, fired three shots from the Texas School Book Depository, killing President Kennedy and severely wounding Texas Governor John Connolly. The Warren Commission found no evidence of any conspiracy.
Gerald Posner’s book, “Case Closed,” originally came out in 1993. I read it then in hardcover. For the assassination’s Fiftieth Anniversary, Posner has updated some information, re-edited some parts, and made it ready for those of us who read on Kindles and other e-readers.
What is Gerald Posner’s take on the assassination and its perpetrator(s)? Simple.
That’s for him to explain to you.
“Case Closed” is meticulously researched and documented. Each chapter has endnotes, and there is a huge catalog of citations at the end of the book. To give you an idea how thorough Posner’s research is, there were dozens of times where I tapped my screen to advance the page, and it took me to a footnote. There was that much documentation.
The 1993 version of “Case Closed”—regardless of whether you agree with Posner’s conclusions—had one big, positive influence on the “JFK Conspiracy” drama: it was scholarly in its approach. If it said Lee Harvey Oswald checked out “The Cat in the Hat,” then there was a citation from his library card records. Before, at least in my reading experience, any crackpot with a theory could write a book and get it published. You could opine that Lee Harvey Oswald was so addled by “The Cat in the Hat” that he fired those bullets, or that he was in California with Dr. Seuss, or whatever, and you wouldn’t even show proof he’d read it.
(n.b.: I’m obviously using “The Cat in the Hat” as an example, and I mean no offense to the classic, excellent book or its author, Dr. Seuss, whom I greatly admire. I don’t want some lunatic coming out on the 75th JFK Assassination Anniversary and creating a conspiracy about Tom arguing the “Cat in the Hat” theory)
On a related note, I should mention that there was a part of “Case Closed” that literally had me laughing out loud. As counterintuitive as that sounds, when Posner described some of the more-outlandish conspiracy theories various folks have promulgated, I couldn’t help myself.
Posner’s tone is not dry and musty, as some scholastic books are. It’s also neither glib nor light. He takes his subject seriously, and he presents his evidence and argument with equal seriousness. It is smart without being inaccessible.
You may be convinced by “Cased Closed,” or it may reinforce what you already believed. You may also disagree. Either way, Gerald Posner makes one hell of a case.
(nb: I received an Advance Review Copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley)