Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Killing Kennedy" by Blll O'Reilly (2013)

I had not planned on reading this book, as I was afraid that I had already prejudged it. But, in the end, the words of the commentator; for that is what Mr. O’Reilly is; will be judged for the partisan ramblings which they have produced. This could have been an insightful book were it not for the agenda of the “authors.” The pity of it is that the 24/7 news cycle generation will take this book as pure fact, without ever delving beneath the surface, which the “commentator” has not even scratched.

Even the subtitle is designed to mislead the reader into thinking that the president lived in an insular fantasy world. In reality though, the “Camelot” myth was not killed when Kennedy was assassinated, as Mr. O’Reilly asserts; it was created by Jackie Kennedy after the president’s murder. She claims that each night before retiring, her husband used to listen to the Broadway cast recording of the show. It’s a small point, but the purpose is apparent. This man will go to any length in order to vilify the President.

Civil Rights legislation was only a way of getting the black vote; the Cuban Missle Crisis was only of importance to the President because the mid-term elections were coming up and his brother was running in Massachusetts. Even the President’s military rank as an Ensign Jg. is incorrectly termed as a Second Lieutenant, which is an Army rank. The PT-109 incident was an example of Kennedy’s recklessness. He should have simply seen the Japanese cruiser in the dark of the night with no radar. Saving his crew was just a way to lay the groundwork for a future in politics, even though at the time his brother Joe was still alive and had political aspirations, which the younger Kennedy did not.

The book drones on and on in this way, with the authors misrepresentations beginning early and continuing throughout the book. While he does get things correct, he spins them in a very clever way to create failures out of successes, and weaknesses of strengths.

Mr. O’Reilly is skilled at saying one thing while meaning quite another. Every good word the “author” has to say about the President is cast in the light of failure. Basically he states that Kennedy was a just a dumb bastard who got himself killed, by way of lifestyle and recklessness, and to some extent that is true. But, the failure of the agencies, and their willingness to do their sworn duties in protecting the President, is frightening. It changed the way in which our government works, with the elected official living in fear of those who are sworn to protect him. In the case of Watergate, some of the same people involved in the Bay of Pigs and the later events in Dallas, blackmailed the President into resigning from office, blocking his policies and changing international discourse.

Most of the “Notes” to which the author credits his sources come from the Internet, rather than established literature on the subject. Personally, I recommend Russ Baker’s “Family of Secrets”, in which the author fully annotates the connections between the Bay of Pigs, the Kennedy Assassination and the Watergate affair. That book cites every source, and even credits each statement, often to the memoirs of the persons making those statements. That book; in my estimation; is the epitome of the way history should be written, by an accredited author, and not a political commentator with a known agenda.

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