A Cruel and Shocking Act

A Cruel and Shocking Act

The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination

Book - 2013
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A groundbreaking, explosive account of the Kennedy assassination that will rewrite the history of the 20th century's most controversial murder investigation

The questions have haunted our nation for half a century: Was the President killed by a single gunman? Was Lee Harvey Oswald part of a conspiracy? Did the Warren Commission discover the whole truth of what happened on November 22, 1963?

Philip Shenon, a veteran investigative journalist who spent most of his career at The New York Times , finally provides many of the answers. Though A Cruel and Shocking Act began as Shenon's attempt to write the first insider's history of the Warren Commission, it quickly became something much larger and more important when he discovered startling information that was withheld from the Warren Commission by the CIA, FBI and others in power in Washington. Shenon shows how the commission's ten-month investigation was doomed to fail because the man leading it -- Chief Justice Earl Warren -- was more committed to protecting the Kennedy family than getting to the full truth about what happened on that tragic day. A taut, page-turning narrative, Shenon's book features some of the most compelling figures of the twentieth century--Bobby Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, Chief Justice Warren, CIA spymasters Allen Dulles and Richard Helms, as well as the CIA's treacherous "molehunter," James Jesus Angleton.

Based on hundreds of interviews and unprecedented access to the surviving commission staffers and many other key players, Philip Shenon's authoritative, scrupulously researched book will forever change the way we think about the Kennedy assassination and about the deeply flawed investigation that followed.

A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2013

Publisher: New York : Henry Holt, 2013
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780805094206
0805094202
Branch Call Number: 973.922092 Kenne -S
Characteristics: 625 p. : ill., maps

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bwinlr
Oct 30, 2017

I'm 300 pages into this 546-page book, and I'm beginning to wonder if this has been worth the time I've spent so far reading it. So many books have been written about the murder of JFK, that I was curious if this book would offer anything new. Not really, at least at this point.

The different angle that the author takes in this book is that he looks at the event through the eyes of the young staff lawyers who served on the Warren Commission. It doesn't paint a particularly favorable view of the powerful men (J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Helms, James Angleton, Gerald Ford, Earl Warren, etc.) who were directly involved in the investigation. Some of their efforts were simply petty (Hoover seemed most concerned about any information getting out that reflected badly on the FBI, and him), and others a bit more nefarious.

This is a gossipy sort of book that will appeal to folks who want a closer look at the machinations of politicians trying to protect their reputations, rather than a serious book exploring many of the curious events surrounding the assassination. For that, I would recommend James W. Douglas's excellent 2008 book, "JFK and the Unspeakable." Well-researched with facts that can actually be corroborated, it is a book for intelligent readers who disdain the semi-hysterical works by too many other authors attempting to profit from this very sad moment in history.

Oct 31: A Postscript:
I read another 50+ pages last night, and finally decided I had no interest in completing the book. That's a big deal for me, actually. The earlier comments still apply. Folks who read things like "People" magazine might enjoy this book. Me, not so much.

c
captqrunch
Nov 13, 2016

Granted, I only skimmed this tome. It appeared though to be an extended ad hominem attack against critics of the Warren Commission and witnesses whose stories conflict with the official account (which absurdity Mr Shennon appears to accept unconditionally). Disinfo at this late date? Sure looks like it. Apparently, Operation Mockingbird is still going strong. If you are a student of the most historiographically complex event of the 20th century, look elsewhere: there's nothing new here.

a
alpha1two
Jun 27, 2016

an engrossing look at how the Warren Commission was created and what they discovered, and didn't discover, during their investigation into the Kennedy assassination.

s
StarGladiator
Nov 06, 2013

Yet another bizarre and misleading recently published book on the JFK assassination (the majority of which were financed or underwritten by hedge funds, most peculiar since these books were money losers? ?) which assures us a debunked misinformational psy op (an imposter, who was purported to have been Lee Oswald, and his trip to the American embassy in Mexico City - - this has been disproven so many times it has become an unworthy subject). I am unfamiliar with this writer, but feel reasonably certain should I research him he will have followed the usual pattern of the disinformation types. Nothing groundbreaking in this time-waster, simply more murky obfuscation instead of facts!

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