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Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the…

Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK (1993)

by Gerald Posner

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A masterful investigation into the assassination, required reading for anyone who wants to know what really happened. The chapter on the forensics of the shooting alone would make this a masterwork. But the author also delves deeply into who Oswald was, who Ruby was, and why they acted the way that they did. He also addresses the common conspiracy theories, including showing who Jim Garrison (hero of the movie JFK) really was and why he shouldn't be trusted. ( )
1 vote briguybrn | Jan 14, 2018 |
This is one of the most detailed anti-conspiracy assassination books. Many people will consider it a definitive work in the genre. I have my doubts but he does present a considerable amount of evidence supporting his thesis.

I am troubled that he does not seem to address the third shot in any detail.

However, during an interview he seemed to address the third shot more directly.

“[question]The head wound. Everyone looks at the backward motion of the president’s head and says, “That’s got to mean the shot came from the front and shoved the head back.”[/question]

When I first saw the Zapruder film, I thought that it was evidence of a shot from the front. … I asked the experts, “What does that mean, that backwards head movement?” What they told me is, several things are happening. First, as the cortex of the brain is destroyed, a neuromuscular response shoots down the spine, sending a seizure through the body. The body’s muscles twitch, with the large muscles in the back predominating.

Remember, Kennedy’s wrapped into a back brace. It’s wrapped right underneath his breast all the way down and wrapped around his legs. You can’t tell from that seizure where he’s going to move in the car. But then something happens. Out the right side of his head, an explosion takes place. On the enhanced Zapruder film, you can see a cloud, a red mist of brain and blood tissue moving forward. It’s almost a jet effect. As that propels out his head, it has much more force than the force of the bullet moving in, and it shoots him in the opposite direction. It shoots out to the right front and left, violently.

Two things. As the president’s brain is destroyed, he goes into a neuromuscular seizure. His body starts to stiffen up. At the same time that the wound explodes out the right front side of his head and as that blood and brain tissue moves out, it forces him in the opposite direction, the jet effect, back and to the left, violently. …

[question]In terms of photographs, X-rays, is it absolutely clear where the shots came from?[/question]

No question. The X-rays and the autopsy photographs are conclusive. Kennedy is only hit by two shots, fired from the rear.”

Cf. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/interview-gerald-posner/

  gmicksmith | Sep 9, 2016 |
Picked this one up at the used book store at my local library for a dollar. Came out in 1993, not long after Oliver Stone's film homage to the conspiracy nuts.

Poser wades bravely into the fever swamps of JFK conspiracy theories with an extraordinarily well-documented account of Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby, explaining how Oswald came to kill Kennedy and Ruby came to kill Oswald. I suspect you all know the facts -- they're essentially as the Warren Commission determined them -- so I'll focus on the few exceptions, some other things that were new to me, and some observations on why the conspiracy theories have such tenacity even though they lack any credibility.

The Warren Commission erred in some of its sketches of Kennedy's neck wound location, and in its estimation of when the shots were fired. Better evidence puts the wounds consistently in the same location, supporting the autopsy report, and a modern analysis of the Zapruder film gives Oswald considerably longer to fire his shots than the Warren Commission estimated.

That's it. That's pretty much all they got wrong. Which is remarkable, considering that Warren pushed the Commission to complete its report in something approaching great haste, before the assassination could trigger World War III.

I had not realized just how deeply Oswald was involved in Marxism. He wasn't just a loony who somehow found his way to Russia; he was a committed Trotskyite from about age 15. (Which does not, of course, contradict him being a loony. May even be considered corroborating evidence.) After returning disillusioned to the U.S., Oswald made a determined effort to then defect a third time to Cuba, which he was hoping was the Marxist paradise Russia had turned out not to be, but even Cuba didn't want him. He then returned to Houston and the opportunity to assassinate JKF.

Marina, Oswald's wife, married him essentially because he had his own apartment in Russia, then stayed with him after he returned to the U.S. essentially because she found she liked life in the United States. In spite of the fact that Oswald refused to teach her any English, as a way to control her.

I had not realized what a loser Ruby was. The conspiracy theories that he had mob connections founder on the reality that no mobster with any instinct for survival would have touched him. Ruby was an unbalanced individual who had to be where the action was, and his murder of Oswald was arguably so impulsive and happenstance that he could very well have copped a 5-year "murder without malice" plea if his attorney, Melvin Belli, hadn't gambled on getting him off completely ... by arguing he was delusional. The world can do without lawyers like that.

Finally, I was surprised how many of the "witnesses" used by conspiracy buffs are obvious nut-cases. A surprising fraction (or maybe not) have spent time in mental institutions. It's a little incredible these folks are given any credibility by anyone at all.

An interesting side story is that of New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison, who conjured up a case against Clay Shaw essentially out of thin air. Shaw vaguely resembled a "Clay Bernstein" made up by a flamboyant New Orleans attorney notorious for his tall tales. Garrison was afflicted by a positively Stalinesque case of paranoia, and even most of the conspiracy buffs have tried to distance themselves from him. (Though not Oliver Stone.) Garrison was actually dropped from the National Guard after being diagnosed as suffering from severe psychopathology, but somehow this didn't derail his political career.

So why do conspiracy theories have such traction? It's really hard to beat the explanation first offered by William Manchester and quoted by Posner, that it just isn't possible for a lot of people to accept that a popular President could be offed by a complete nobody. Yet that's what the facts say. This is just too much cognitive dissonance for a lot of people, apparently. I find myself wondering if the same dynamics aren't behind the 9/11 Truthers: That a handful of young Muslim losers could kill thousands and bring down two great works of civil engineering is just too much cognitive dissonance to accept.

Anyway, Posner's book is highly recommended for anyone who hasn't read it already and is not already burned out on the JFK assassination. ( )
2 vote K.G.Budge | Aug 8, 2016 |
A few years ago I went on a toot of Kennedy assassination books, convinced that there was an evil conspiracy or two or three. The books got more and more bizarre and I got more and more confused. Then I read this one, and it was a "I coulda had a V-8" moment. This one made sense. ( )
2 vote SusanListon | Nov 30, 2014 |
I went looking for a conspiracy....I wanted to find one. However, Mr. Posner does a great job in debunking the most popular conspiracy theories. I did not take his word as the gospel truth, but also read it along side the Warren Commission's Report, The House Select Committee on Assassinations Report, and about 8 other books offering up such conspirators as: anti-Cuban Castro exile groups, the CIA/FBI, The KGB, LBJ, and the Mafia. However, there is not one that can make its case without huge gaps and holes. I spent months piecing together controverted testimonies from the SAME PERSON. No doubt in my mind that Oswald and Ruby acted alone. ( )
2 vote tess_schoolmarm | Jul 27, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679418253, Hardcover)

The assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, continues to inspire interest ranging from well-meaning speculation to bizarre conspiracy theories and controversial filmmaking. But in this landmark book, reissued with a new afterword for the 40th anniversary of the assassination, Gerald Posner examines all of the available evidence and reaches the only possible conclusion: Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. There was no second gunman on the grassy knoll. The CIA was not involved. And although more than four million pages of documents have been released since Posner first made his case, they have served only to corroborate his findings. Case Closed remains the classic account against which all books about JFK’s death must be measured.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:39 -0400)

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After thirty years, Case Closed finally succeeds where hundreds of other books and investigations have failed - it resolves the greatest murder mystery of our time, the assassination of JFK. Based upon explosive new interviews, secret files, and the latest scientific and computer enhancements of film and evidence, Case Closed not only uncovers where the Warren Commission erred but also demolishes the leading conspiracy theories, putting to rest once and for all speculation about involvement of the CIA, FBI, and the mafia, and the supposed links between Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. Case Closed answers all lingering questions about the assassination. Some of the book's revelations include: the inside story of Oswald's defection to Russia, told for the first time by the KGB agent who handled his case; new details about Oswald's attempt to kill Army General Edwin Walker, and how he was shadowing Walker when Kennedy arrived in Dallas; and how the latest computer enhancements of the Zapruder film determine the number and precise timing of the shots fired in Dealey Plaza. As historian Stephen Ambrose has written, "Mr. Posner's chapter on the single bullet is a tour de force, absolutely brilliant, absolutely convincing." At the heart of this mesmerizing reinvestigation of the case is the first in-depth portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald's tortured life. Drawing on new and intimate interviews with Oswald's wife and friends as well as startling details from his classified KGB file, Posner unmasks the enigma that is Oswald. No less fascinating is his profile of Jack Ruby, which includes the most complete presentation ever of his actions over the assassination weekend. Case Closed cuts through three decades of misinformation and distortions by examining all the evidence to make sense of what really happened. This ground-breaking book presents an absorbing story that finally leads us back to the truth behind one of the nation's most enduring and painful mysteries. Posner weaves a narrative that restores the human drama to one of the watershed events in American history, and in the process answers the riddle of how and why Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK.… (more)

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