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Issue #1693      July 15, 2015

Book review

JFK and the unspeakable

There have been many books written about the assassination of President Kennedy, so many, generating so much bewildering debate, in fact, that many people have given up trying to understand the event and its significance. But despite all that, I want to recommend without reservation this book by a Catholic theologian and peace activist, which is unique in many respects and provides an education that all supporters of peace and progress need as we struggle to overcome the danger of right-wing extremism.

This is the only book on the assassination recommended by the Kennedy family: “It has distilled all the best available research into a very well-documented and convincing portrait of president Kennedy’s transforming turn to peace, at the cost of his life. ... I urge all Americans to read this book,” writes Robert F Kennedy, Jr.

It is also strongly endorsed by Daniel Ellsberg, Marcus Raskin, Oliver Stone, and Gaeton Fonzie, staff investigator for the US House Committee on Assassinations, who stated it is “by far the most important book yet written on the subject.”

Simply put, the book demonstrates beyond doubt that Kennedy was killed by the CIA with the help of right-wing Cuban émigrés and the support of extremist forces in the Pentagon, the State Department and possibly other elements of US corporate power, who recognised that Kennedy was moving towards a radical break with the fundamental principles and policies of the Cold War. He was seen as a traitor, who had to be stopped before he could implement his plans.

This book not only documents in fascinating detail how Kennedy was killed but, more importantly, it describes the historical and political context, the reasons why he was murdered.

It is a devastating indictment of the Cold War and exposes the insane drive of its perpetrators in the CIA and the Pentagon for a first strike nuclear attack on Cuba and the USSR.

The book also exposes the massive cover-up of the truth as the FBI, the corporate media, and various public officials promoted the official story of the Warren Commission that the President was killed by a lone assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, allegedly motivated by Communist loyalties and possibly even abetted by Cuba and the Soviet Union.

The Kennedy family never believed this tale and sent a letter to Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev saying they recognised it was not Communists, but a right-wing conspiracy who were responsible. Douglass shows that FBI Director J Edgar Hoover and President Lyndon Johnson also dismissed this story as a CIA fabrication, but nonetheless cooperated with the cover-up because they were deeply committed to continue the Cold War.

For the millions subsequently slaughtered in Vietnam, Indonesia, and elsewhere, the militarist policies of the CIA and the Pentagon were anything but cold. Douglass shows how this orgy of mass murder was unleashed by the assassination and gives a sense for us today of the dangerous forces still embedded in the foreign policy establishment of US imperialism, which is why this book is so important.

JFK and the Unspeakable, Why He Died and Why It Matters, James W Douglass, Orbis Books

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