three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
30-Sept-Oct-2007
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The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

A-Reclaiming History"Where were you when . . . ?" For more than four decades, the Kennedy assassination has provoked the kind of spittle-flecked arguments that armchair historians live for. Nearly 1,000 books have been written on the subject, and 75 percent of Americans still don’t believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Who was on the grassy knoll? Could Oswald have fired those fateful shots with inferior equipment? Why was the Warren Commission report riddled with inaccuracies, omissions, and outright fabrications? Did doctors at Bethesda Naval Hospital alter the president’s wounds in order to hide the facts? After 20 years of exhaustive research and with the ruthless precision of a well-planned prosecution, Vincent Bugliosi debunks these and other myths surrounding one of the century’s most enduring mysteries. Simply put, Oswald did, indeed, act alone.
Norton. 1,632 pages. $49.95. ISBN: 0393045250

Los Angeles Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"After reading what may be Bugliosi’s crowning work … one thinks: At last, someone has done it, put all the pieces together. … When Bugliosi lays into a bad argument, he attacks without mercy." Jim Newton

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Reclaiming History is Proustian in its conception, scope and design. … Bugliosi’s book, which denies all conspiracies, has the ring of truth, and I predict will be the line that historians a hundred years from now will take on this story." David Walton

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"Putting aside its ridiculous length, I have to say Reclaiming History is in spots a delight to read. … Bugliosi knows how to construct a narrative, and his 316-page retelling of those ‘four days in November,’ a book in itself, is as good a second-by-second reconstruction of the assassination and its aftermath as I’ve read." Bryan Burrough

Oregonian 4 of 5 Stars
"What Bugliosi has done is reframe the narrative in such a compelling manner, in such an original writing voice, that he essentially shuts the conspiracy theorists down cold. Reclaiming History is the unrushed version of the Warren Commission report, with all the wrinkles ironed out." Jack Ohman

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"To say that Bugliosi wants to strike a nail in the coffin of Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists is putting it mildly; he wants to drive a tractor trailer through their ranks and scatter everyone in sight. … Bugliosi is right that this case is, and ought to be, closed." Alan Wolfe

San Antonio Exp-News 3.5 of 5 Stars
"For readers who are interested in being persuaded by evidence and logic rather than suppositions, [Bugliosi] amasses plenty of food for thought. … There’s a reward in Reclaiming History for anyone with a passing interest in the topic, and anyone with a yen seeing familiar arguments cross-examined and taken to their logical conclusions by a relentless, take-no-prisoners prosecutor." J. Michael Parker

Boston Globe 3 of 5 Stars
"With indignation crackling on every page of Reclaiming History, Bugliosi aims to redress, once and for all, what he sees as an outrageous imbalance between the books that deal with the assassination responsibly and those that do not. … But the exhaustive, often repetitious analysis to which he subjects even the most obscure issues surrounding Kennedy’s murder is likely to sustain the interest of only the most avid Kennedy-murder buffs." Joseph Rosenbloom

Wall Street Journal 2 of 5 Stars
"Reclaiming History, at its best, is a labor of love born out of an admirable, even relentless, ardor for the truth about the assassination. … Someone forgot to tell Mr. Bugliosi that less is sometimes more." Max Holland

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 1.5 of 5 Stars
"What this case doesn’t need is more advocacy on the part of lawyers like Posner and Bugliosi. … It’s a shame and a waste of great time and effort that Bugliosi decided to contribute to the problem and not to its solution." Josiah Thompson

Critical Summary

In Reclaiming History, former Los Angeles prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi (he wrote the best-selling Helter Skelter after putting Charles Manson behind bars) identifies and dismantles the conspiracy theories that still abound in discussions of the Kennedy assassination. At more than 1,600 pages, and accompanied by a CD containing some 1,100 pages of notes, Bugliosi aspires to bludgeon naysayers into submission. Critics, after an obligatory remark on the book’s astounding length, generally concede that the author’s exhaustive efforts have paid off, making this weighty tome the encyclopedic source for readers interested in reliving the events of November 1963. In the words of J. Michael Parker, though, "How many people are going to pay $50 . . . knowing that [the book] will take them back to the Warren Commission’s original conclusion?"