Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ignorant reviewer of Bugliosi book regarding JFK assassination

It is a shame that, sometimes, the NY Times Book Review hires people to review books on subjects of which they are totally ignorant.

Case in point: Bryan Burrough, a writer from the increasingly disappointing Vanity Fair, was strangely asked to review, in last week's NY Times Book Review, Vincent Bugliosi's new tome on the JFK assassination.

Bugligosi has written a book on the JFK assassination that is 1,621 pages--plus a separate CD-Rom which stores the endnotes. Yup, even Burrough was struck by that ridiculous number of pages, all purporting to explain that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Yet, Burrough, who appears to know little about the JFK assassination other than it happened, is overwhelmed by it all--to the point where he ends up agreeing with Bugliosi that those who believe JFK was killed by more than one lone nut deserve only "ridicule." If there is to be ridicule, it should be directed against Burrough and Bugliosi.

In his review, Burrough quotes the venerable conspiracy investigator, Harold Weisberg, who admitted he could never prove Oswald was anyone's "agent." Burrough thinks this statement proves Weisberg failed to prove a conspiracy, which, under the law, is simply two or more people engaged in an illegal act or scheme. Burrough is wrong. Weisberg's statement is not an admission that there was no second gunman; just that he couldn't prove at the time he may have said that, whether Oswald was someone's agent.

I recall a similar statement by Weisberg when I spoke to him once in the late 1980s. At the time, I had stumbled upon, and read, the first of Weisberg's books, Whitewash. I found his book so fascinating that I tracked him down through telephone information (for you kids out there, we dialed "411" on our telephones) and called him. At the time, he was living in the State of Maryland. I asked Weisberg about his other books, and finally got the courage to ask the bottom line question: "So, who killed JFK?" Weisberg laughed and said that anyone who said they knew who killed JFK was just guessing. However, he did say there is little doubt there was more than one gunman--we just may never know who did it. Weisberg also said that simply because "someone" had the motivation to kill JFK, that did not mean "someone" killed him.

If Burrough knew anything about the subject, and had actually read Weisberg's work, he would know Weisberg actually spoke with the various witnesses who appeared before the Warren Comission, and read and absorbed their deposition testimony. That was the basis of Weisberg's conclusion that the Warren Commission report is flawed. Again, one doesn't have to prove Oswald was an agent for anyone to conclude the Warren Commission's report failed to sufficiently prove there was only one gunman or that the lone gunman was Lee Harvey Oswald.

Burrough is so credulous and ignorant that he never mentions, in his review, the Mob connection to the JFK murder. See here and here for my recent discussions regarding the Mob connection to JFK's murder, for example. However, the reviwer in Publisher's Weekly (see Publisher's Weekly review in the Amazon link to Bugliosi's book) noted there is reason to believe the Mob was involved in JFK's assassination. The Publisher's Weekly reviewer further noted Bugliosi spends more time attacking Oliver Stone than analyzing the evidence regarding the Mob's involvement in the assassination, which I think proves WW Norton's editors were horribly negligent in their approval of this poorly edited and vetted book.

It's ironic to note that historian Alan Brinkley, asked to review a new book on the Kennedy brothers, in the same edition of the NY Times Sunday Book Review, is more solicitous, though still doubtful, regarding a second gunman or conspiracy to kill JFK. Brinkley has enough knowledge of the JFK assassination to know there is credible information to prove the involvement of the Mob in JFK's murder. Brinkley's review even begins with the revelation that RFK's initial reaction to the assassination was that the Mob, the CIA or related elements may have been involved.

Brinkley also correctly notes that the new book on the Kennedy brothers is too credulous about JFK's success as president and too optimistic that Kennedy was going to lead America to the promised land. I was very impressed that Brinkley recognizes that JFK was not likely to avoid the Vietnam War if he had lived and continued as president.

But allow me to get back to Bugliosi's book, which I am still waiting to read at least part of it.

I am deeply disappointed in Bugliosi for writing a book that even another positive reviewer says is over the top in its invective and sarcasm. Worse, Bugliosi breaks no new ground and spends too much time arguing about Oliver Stone's film, "JFK," and precious little time with the most salient theory that JFK was the victim of a Mob inspired "hit."

It is sad for me to say all of this because Bugliosi is someone I have previously and deeply admired. His book on the OJ Simpson criminal trial is, by far, the best book on the subject--where he kept his vitriol under better control and provided strong support for his vitriol. His book on the Bush-Gore Supreme Court decision in 2000 was rock solid on the legal arguments in that case--but I began to feel Bugliosi's vitriol was beginning to get the better of him. In this latest work on the JFK assassination, Bugliosi's bluster against people such as Harold Weisberg or Dan Moldea is unwarranted, wrong and says more about Buglosi losing his mind than all of his sarcasm that permeates what is ultimately a ridiculous book.

PERSONAL WHINE:

I admit to having a personal peeve against Bugliosi's publisher, WW Norton. A few months ago, my literary agent told me WW Norton rejected publishing my alternative history on RFK in soft cover because the book was supposedly too long at almost 640 pages (with another 60 pages of endnotes). I guess the editor at Norton hadn't read or even heard of any of the novels of Neal Stephenson or William Vollman.

Yet, Norton has published Bugliosi's book, which is 1,000 pages longer than my book. Just let that sink in: 1,000 pages longer than my book. Unlike Bugliosi's book, my book received a starred or top review from Publishers' Weekly. Plus, my book received endorsements from credible historians, writers and literary persons--and even the book's critics are impressed with the historical information provided in the book.

I apologize to readers for airing my personal frustration, though this is after all, a blog. However, I have been frustrated these past few months as my agent attempts to find a publisher willing to publish my book in soft cover in advance of the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Kennedy, coming up in June 2008. If someone has any connections to publishers who may be willing to publish my book in time for the 40th anniversary edition, please contact me at "mitchellfreedman@yahoo.com." I also have a connection to HBO where a top exec there says, "Mitchell, just get the book out in a soft cover, and I'll work to get a 'green light' for a miniseries." Hence, the frustration at seeing the mess that is Bugliosi's book.

(Edited)

9 Comments:

At 3:40 PM, Anonymous LanceThruster said...

Excellent critique Mitchell. I too was quite impressed with Mr. Bugliosi’s observations regarding the stolen 2000 election but wonder about his motivations here. A brilliant attorney friend of mine has stated that probably the clearest indication of something being amiss (hence a cover-up) was the pristine bullet found on John Connelly’s gurney. He’s a personal injury attorney and was incredulous at the notion of a lead projectile hitting so much dense bone mass and conveniently falling out of Connelly’s body looking as if it had been shot into cotton wadding.

 
At 11:20 PM, Anonymous Gary said...

For a review of Bugliosi's book that was written by someone knowledgeable enough that Bugliosi cited him, let me shamelessly suggest readers take a look at my review that was published in the Nov/Dec issue of "The Federal Lawyer." That outlet has no on-line 'presence,' but my review is available on-line at: http://www.ctka.net/bug_aguilar.html

See:

Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

By Vincent Bugliosi
W.W. Norton & Co., New York, NY, 2007. 1612 pages plus CD-rom, $49.95.

Reviewed by Gary L. Aguilar*

The Federal Lawyer, Nov/December, 2007.

 
At 4:08 PM, Blogger Larry said...

I read reclaiming history. Its excellent.

There is no evidence to support a conspiracy.

You have not read Bugliosi's book.

If you had read it, then you would be able to refute the overwhelming evidence he cites to convict Oswald.

You are ignorant.

 
At 9:10 AM, Anonymous BAM said...

Mr. Freedman,

It's only fitting that I run across your blog, I guess. I found A Disturbance Of Fate just last week, and bought it online. I'm only about 100 pages into it at the moment, but I want to thank you for such an excellent work of alternate history. I can't wait to get deeper into it. As a Republican, I'm sure I won't like everything that happens, but I'm still fascinated to read about what might have been.

 
At 9:01 PM, OpenID zelduh said...

larry:

Sadly, you have shown YOUR ignorance.

Read Gary L. Aguilar's review. If you read Bugliosi's book, you will see Gary L. Aguilar's name.
Google "Gary L. Aguilar" and JFK.

Gary L. Aguilar is pretty sharp.

 
At 10:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My friend,

You have made the extremely common error of passing judgment on a written work before you have taken the time to read it (you admit in your blog that there is much of "Reclaiming History" that you haven't read). You might argue that it is absurd to expect someone to weigh through 2,000 pages in order to form a judgment, but the problem with is that there is absolutely no other way to go about it. It is extremely irresponsible and unprofessional to review any book, let alone one dealing with a subject of historical heft, without having read the book.

And are you aware of the rave reviews the book has garnered from news publications and book critics around the country: Scott Turow, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times, Robert K. Tanenbaum (Deputy Chief Counsel, United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations), Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Atlantic, Philadelphia Inquirer, Legal Times, Boston Globe, The Oregonian, San Diego Tribune, New York Post, Library Journal, San Antonio Express News, Booklist, Bookmarks Magazine, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Assassination Research Book Review, The International Criminal Justice Review...Perhaps these are reviewers who take their job seriously and actually read a work before they critique it in a public forum.

I don't expect you to retract what you have written or to admit any regret for your carelessness...because you see, my friend, you are a very ordinary man.

 
At 8:29 AM, Blogger bartolomeo7 said...

Contract On America proves Ruby's connection to the mob, who cooperated with Angleton, Dulles and Casey. The film shows JFK shot in thoat, back and head.CIA's motive was to hide pedophile homosexuality. They suspected JFK had told the Russians, which they found out in Oct 62, from Ed Kennedy.

 
At 3:29 PM, Blogger Richard said...

I read the book, after having read
around fifty others on the JFK-Tippit-Oswald triple homicides.
That was before, during and after
getting a law degree. Anyone interested can check the book out of
a public library, play the CD-ROM with the Endnotes, scroll to page
245 and start reading Endnote 403.
The subject is what the Parkland
doctors and nurses saw. And BEFORE
you read all or part of the rest of it, read Seth Kantor's book on Jack Ruby. Kantor - WWII Marine Corps Vet, reporter who knew Ruby.
And of course there are so many other good books along with the gibberish. I basically find it laughable that anyone can study the JFK-Tippit-Oswald murders in
any great detail as
they transpired within less than 48 hours and still fall for the
"Lone Nut who was Murdered by ---
Another Lone Nut" version of events. One last reference: Boston Globe, June 21, 1981, p. A23 "Dispute on JFK Assassination
Evidence Persists."

 
At 5:08 AM, Anonymous cruise said...

A very interesting view on this you have, really. I don't know what else to say. Keep it up.

 

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