November 20, 2013

ONE OF THE MAJOR WEAKNESSES OF THE LARRY SABATO BOOK AND COURSE...

The book that cured me of JFK conspiracies once and for all (Hector Tobar, November 20, 2013, LA Times)

20 years ago I was cured of my conspiracy-theory fever forever. A single book was the antidote.

Gerald Posner's "Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK" was published in 1993, on the 30th anniversary of the assassination. As the title suggests, its chief protagonist is Oswald, a man with the kind of lonely, tortured and eventful biography that American culture has produced pretty routinely in the decades since. In fact, I would argue that there are echoes of Oswald's life in figures as diverse as Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and the two teenage boys who massacred their classmates at Columbine High School in Colorado.

Oswald was just 24 when he was arrested after Kennedy's assassination. In the conspiracy theories, he is a shadow figure, a pawn moved around by powerful forces, a "patsy" who takes the fall.  In "Case Closed" (and also in excellent, later books by Norman Mailer and Vincent Bugliosi), a more recognizably human figure emerges. Oswald's father died when his mother was still pregnant with him, and he had a rootless childhood, marked by domestic neglect and violence -- as an adolescent, he hit his mother and was briefly institutionalized. He latched on to various dreams and schemes to give him the sense of self his upbringing had denied him: from being a teenage "Communist" in a radical party of one, to joining the Marines and finally to defecting to the Soviet Union.

The peculiar madness of Oswald pulled me through "Case Closed," as Posner crafts a narrative that reads like a novel -- though it's a novel that's being constantly interrupted when Posner has to stop and debunk the many myths about Oswald's life that the conspiracy theorists have concocted in the years since. 

..is that he wastes so much time rehashing the conspiracy theories that Mr. Posner forever laid to rest.
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Posted by at November 20, 2013 5:12 PM
  

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