A Snowy November Skiing at Garnet Hill with Friends






Friday, November 1, 2013

A Cruel and Shocking Act: First Book in This Week's Stampede

How positively delightful when new books flood over the dam!

On Monday, I had the pleasure of listening to National Public Radio's Fresh Air program. Teri Gross's interview with Philip Shenon, renowned New York Times journalist and author of the just-published A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination, published by Henry Holt no less, was the highlight of the day--and I'm so glad I caught it. I immediately ordered the book from Barnes and Noble, and it arrived at my door in 36 hours, which must be a new record for me way out here in the mountains of northern New York.

Shenon, has a stellar resume and a lifetime of journalistic achievements both in Washington and abroad, including his on-site reporting in several war zones. His most recent coup was his highly- regarded study of the 9/11 Commission entitled The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Commission. 

In A Cruel and Shocking Act, which I've already started to mine, Shenon taps the stories of the many cream-of-the-crop young lawyers from all over the U.S. who were the junior investigators for the Warren Commission, which was headed by Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren after President John F. Kennedy's assassination. Its role was to investigate exactly what happened, who was involved, and why.

But, as Shenon illustrates in his book and in the interview on Fresh Air, the evidence that many former junior staffers uncovered was never investigated further. These lawyers and staff are now very old, several have already passed on. Shenon collected their stories, which was followed by his copious research in the National Archives  and other pertinent federal depositories. In September 1964, just 10 months after the assassination, Earl Warren and other top leaders at the time chose not to pursue leads and stories that, by their nature, demanded investigation.

According to previous reports I've read, Chief Justice Earl Warren was desperately concerned for the country in the months following the assassination. It was his belief that continuing controversy would cause people to panic and would weaken people's faith in the government at a vulnerable time.

The evidence that Earl Warren ordered his junior staffers not to pursue evidence makes today's historians positively crazy, yet it does make for fascinating reading. I could go on, but dinner is percolating.

More on other new books tomorrow!

6 comments:

  1. Oh, this sounds very tempting! I'm on a Kennedy reading spree at the moment with JFK's Last Hundred Days (which was fascinating) and now nearing the end of The Patriarch (bio of Joseph P. Kennedy).

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    1. JoAnn,
      I hope to post some additional titles as well. My favorites from among the old classics as well as newer titles. The Last Hundred Days is one I'm very interested in!
      Judith

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  2. Some day I am going to spend a whole summer reading about the history of this era. There is still so much we just don't know, and probably never will know, about the Kennedy assassination....

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    1. You're so right. That's one fact Shenon emphasizes: so much was destroyed, and so much has been ignored so long ago, that we will never know.
      For a person who loves facts, that fact is hard to swallow!
      Judith

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  3. A very interesting topic and the book sounds great. My husband reads more non-fiction than I do. He may get it sometime.

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    1. Hi, Tracy,
      The book is so good. I've learned so many things about the background of a drama I thought I knew all about, but it turns out I didn't. Very, very interesting info about Chief Justice Earl Warren, the head of the Warren Commission--that's so far!

      Best,
      Judith

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