Further Reading about the John F. Kennedy Assassination
This website provides a concise introduction to the JFK assassination:
- the strong prima facie evidence of Lee Harvey Oswald’s guilt;
- a sceptical examination of that evidence;
- and an account of Oswald’s activities before the assassination, which suggest a solution to the riddle.
What follows is a guide for those wishing to find out more about the Kennedy assassination without wasting their time on sensationalist potboilers and paranoid everything–is–a–conspiracy craziness.
Topics include the medical evidence and the authenticity of the Zapruder film, as well as a discussion of the two best–known anti–conspiracy books, Gerald Posner’s Case Closed and Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History.
Links have been given to online bookshops and other sources, where available. Needless to say, all online sources are liable to disappear or change without notice.
Almost all of the publicly available official documents and reports to do with the JFK assassination are available online at the Mary Ferrell Foundation website, many of them in a choice of PNG and PDF formats. This is an enormous resource, invaluable to anyone with a serious interest in the case. The Mary Ferrell Foundation website’s archive also contains copies of many research journals, some of them no longer extant.
Much of the material on the MFF site is provided by and duplicated on the History Matters and Assassination Archives and Research Center websites, which also contain a selection of informative articles.
Many of the official reports are available on paper from the Mary Ferrell Foundation.
Essential Books on the JFK Assassination
Two books stand out:
- Gerald D. McKnight, Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why (University Press of Kansas, 2005; ISBN 978–0–7006–1390–8), is perhaps the single most important book yet published on the JFK assassination: a comprehensive and scholarly account of the genesis of the Warren Commission and the weaknesses of the Oswald–did–it theory.
- Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (University of California Press, 1993; ISBN 0–520–20519–7), is a detailed account of the political milieu of the assassination.
Other titles worth examining include:
- John Newman, Oswald and the CIA (Carroll and Graf, 1995; ISBN 0–7867–0131–5), is the fullest account of Oswald’s relationship with the organisation which played a major role in associating him with a communist conspiracy.
- Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics II: The New Revelations in US Government Files, 1994–1995 (Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 1996; ISBN 0–9790099–4–4), which has also been published as Oswald, Mexico, and Deep Politics: Revelations from CIA Records on the Assassination of JFK, is a series of essays continuing the theme of Scott’s earlier book.
- Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1993; ISBN 1–56025–052–6), is an insider’s account of the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigation, and includes strong evidence linking Oswald to elements within the CIA’s Mexico City station.
- Henry Hurt, Reasonable Doubt: An Investigation into the Assassination of John F. Kennedy (Henry Holt, 1985; ISBN 0–8050–0360–6), is a good general account of the assassination, marred only by an unnecessary chapter containing an outrageously unlikely confession.
Early Criticism of the Warren Report
Informed criticism of the Warren Report began even before it was published, with Bertrand Russell, ‘16 Questions on the Assassination’, Minority of One, 6 September 1964, pp.6–8.
Much of the documentary material that undermines the Warren Report’s lone–nut explanation was withheld from the public until years after the event. The details of Oswald’s impersonation in Mexico City, for example, were not assembled until the late 1970s, in the HSCA’s Lopez Report, which was only released to the public in the mid–1990s. The first generation of critics had to rely almost entirely on the limited body of evidence made available by the Warren Commission itself, much of which was placed in the National Archives but not published. Nevertheless, several of the earliest books still offer excellent critical accounts of the assassination:
- Sylvia Meagher, Accessories After the Fact: the Warren Commission, the Authorities, and the Report (Bobbs–Merrill, 1967).
- Josiah Thompson, Six Seconds in Dallas: A Micro–Study of the Kennedy Assassination (Bernard Geis Associates, 1967).
- Harold Weisberg, Whitewash: the Report on the Warren Report (1965).
Howard Roffman, Presumed Guilty: How and Why the Warren Commission Framed Lee Harvey Oswald (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1975; ISBN 978–0–498–019333–4), was written after the first wave of classified documents were made public. It is currently out of print, but the text is available online in HTML format at http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/PG/.
JFK Assassination Photographs
There are three essential books for anyone interested in exploring the photographic record of the JFK assassination:
- Richard Trask, Pictures of the Pain: Photography and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Yeoman Press, 1994; ISBN 0–9638595–0–1), is well–documented, and covers both still photographs and the surprisingly large number of home movies that record various aspects of the event. The book is very strong on the experiences of the individual photographers and film–makers.
- Robert Groden, The Search for Lee Harvey Oswald (Viking Penguin, 1995; ISBN 0–670–85867–6), contains almost every extant photograph of Oswald, not to mention the Mexico City impostor.
- Robert Groden, The Killing of a President (Viking Studio Books, 1993; ISBN 0–670–85267–8), contains a comprehensive range of photographs of all aspects of the assassination, including President Kennedy’s autopsy, but also offers some very speculative theories.
JFK Assassination Websites
There are probably almost as many websites dedicated to the JFK assassination as there are books. The following selection of online resources was compiled at around the time of the 50th anniversary. Most of these websites are worth visiting:
Sources and Documents
- The Mary Ferrell Foundation website’s JFK assassination documents are available as PNG images of scans. Here are links to the main categories:
- The Warren Report.
- The 26 volumes of the Warren Commission’s Hearings and Exhibits.
- Transcripts of the Warren Commission’s executive sessions.
- Memos and minutes of the Warren Commission’s staff meetings.
- Warren Commission Documents: unpublished documents provided by the FBI, Secret Service and other agencies, mostly placed in the National Archives.
- The transcript from the trial of Clay Shaw in 1969.
- The 14 volumes of the Church Committee Reports.
- The House Select Committee on Assassinations Report.
- The 12 volumes of Appendices to the HSCA Report.
- The HSCA’s Lopez Report: Oswald, the CIA, and Mexico City.
- The Assassination Records and Review Board documents.
- Some of the 5 million items in the National Archives and Records Administration’s JFK Records Collection are available online, including:
- The National Security Archive at The George Washington University website contains documents relevant to the assassination.
- Ralph Schuster’s http://www.jfk-assassination.de website contains the text of the Warren Report and much of the testimony from the Hearings and Exhibits, all in HTML format.
- The Dallas Police Department’s assassination records are located at the Dallas Municipal Archives website and at the University of North Texas website.
- The W.R. Poage Legislative Library at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, contains a large amount of material donated by researchers of varying degrees of competence. Although the Baylor site is more user–friendly than the Weisberg site, some aspects are poorly thought–out and may create unwelcome surprises for visitors. Links to documents do not state the format, which is usually PDF, or the file size. Some, but not all, links open in new tabs, without warning or any obvious pattern.
- Kenneth Rahn’s Academic JFK Assassination Site offers a wide range of material covering many aspects of the topic.
- Dave Ratcliff’s website does the same from an explicitly pro–conspiracy viewpoint.
JFK Assassination Blogs
- JFK Facts, a professional website run by Jefferson Morley and Rex Bradford, is frequently updated with informative articles and news items.
- JFK Countercoup is an occasional series of articles by Bill Kelly.
- The Mysteries of Dealey Plaza is an occasional series of articles by Martin Hay.
- Dale Myers’ blog gives the lone–gunman advocate’s point of view.
JFK Assassination Forums
The JFK assassination has generated many online discussion groups, all of them plagued by tribal loyalties and petty bickering. Despite their flaws, most of the following JFK assassination forums provide some worthwhile material:
- The Education Forum at http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showforum=126 has contained probably the least depressing ratio of well–informed researchers to bone–headed time–wasters. The forum suffers from occasional purges of members and the inexcusable deletion of their posts, although those archives that survive are worth a visit.
- Some of the more recent victims of Education Forum purges congregate at http://reopenkennedycase.forumotion.net/f1–jfk. Although the forum seems to have only a few active members, most of them are genuine researchers. As well as producing useful research, the ROKC forum does a nice line in imaginative and entertaining criticism of other forums and their members, although some of the language used may not suit every reader.
- http://www.jfkassassinationforum.com/index.php?board=1.0 is busy, with a wide range of contributors. Sensible sceptics are, unfortunately, often drowned out by reactionary lone–nut fundamentalists, moon–landings–crazy conspiracy theorists, and clueless dilettantes. Most threads degenerate into personal insults before the end of the first page. There is also a related, and more civil, forum dedicated to the photographic evidence, as well as a very useful YouTube channel which includes home movies taken during the assassination weekend, interviews with witnesses, and other interesting material.
- http://www.jfkessentials.com/forum/ is informative, though sparsely populated. There is a very useful collection of interviews by Alan Dale with a number of eminent researchers at http://www.jfkessentials.com/forum/index.php?board=1.0.
- http://jfk.fanforum.co/ was set up in June 2015, and welcomes new members.
- The Deep Politics Forum, https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?4-JFK-Assassination, attracts those who see a conspiracy everywhere they look, hence its unofficial title: the Deeply Paranoid Forum. Some of its members can be very intolerant of dissent. In particular, critics of the preposterous ‘Harvey and Lee’ theory are not welcomed here. Whether lone–nut or conspiracy, the more implausible the theory, the more religiously it is defended.
- http://forum.assassinationofjfk.net/ also discourages dissent, according to some of its official policies: “7. Posts that argue the case against Lee Harvey Oswald as if he was the lone assassin will be subject to immediate deletion and the poster of same will be placed on notice. … 13. Members are prohibited from even mentioning the name of the John McAdams website or the Deep Politics Forum.” Unsurprisingly, this forum also attracts believers in those conspiracy theories that benefit the most from an absence of criticism, such as the notion that President Kennedy’s body was surgically altered and that the Zapruder film is a fake.
- Visitors to the above–mentioned forums will find it difficult to avoid the occasional example of name–calling and other abusive behaviour. Two Google newsgroups, alt.conspiracy.jfk and alt.assassination.jfk, contain little other than insults and name–calling. They can be recommended for anyone who feels the urge to let off steam, though not for anyone who wants to find out anything useful about the JFK assassination.
Most participants on JFK assassination forums would benefit from copying the behaviour of those on this thread on a comedy website: http://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php/topic,34941.0.html. It’s well–informed, generally polite and humorous, and a good example of the way in which online discussions ought to be conducted.
A huge number of photographs and still frames are now circulating on the web.
- Robin Unger’s JFK Assassination Research Photo Gallery contains almost every extant photograph, and covers all aspects of the assassination.
- http://www.assassinationresearch.com/zfilm/ displays individual frames of the Zapruder film.
- Les Témoins de Dealey Plaza (‘Dealey Plaza Witnesses’) notes the locations in photographs and home movie frames of many named witnesses. The text is in French, but should not be too difficult to follow for those who do not read the language.
- Many TSBD employees and other people in Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination are identified in various images at https://jfkassassinationfiles.wordpress.com/. Be aware that this one page contains hundreds of images, and weighs in at around 12 megabytes, so it may take a while to load over a slow internet connection (for a comparison, the page you are reading is 0.3 MB). There is little explanation of the identifications, although in a few cases links are given to discussions on other websites.
Miscellaneous Online Resources
- Kennedys and King, formerly known as Citizens for Truth about the Kennedy Assassination, also covers the other political assassinations of the 1960s.
- Pat Speer has written a lengthy online account, A New Perspective on the Kennedy Assassination. The website contains a good deal of useful information, although navigating within the site is not straightforward.
- JFK Lancer publishes books and research materials.
- Prof. John Goldsmith, a linguist and computer scientist at the University of Chicago, gave a lecture series on the JFK assassination in the 1990s. His rough notes are a useful introduction to the main issues: http://hum.uchicago.edu/~jagoldsm/Papers/JFK/JFK.html (N.B. The eleven items are all PDFs, none larger than about 200 KB. The address of item ten is wrong; you will need to change ‘10_Event.pdf’ to ‘10_Garrison.pdf’).
- For obvious reasons, a very large majority of JFK assassination websites are in English. One exception is Pierre Nau’s site, JFK: l’assassinat, les questions, which provides Francophone readers with a fair overview of the subject.
It isn’t only newspapers and television programmes that promote the lone–gunman explanation:
- David Reitzes offers a selection of essays, including criticism of Oliver Stone’s film, JFK.
- Secrets of a Homicide contains an attempt by Dale Myers, an award–winning animator, to use a computer simulation to breathe life into the single–bullet theory. Of course, a computer simulation is only as accurate as the data it uses. You could show that Richard M. Nixon shot John F. Kennedy while being given a piggy–back ride by Elvis A. Presley, if you used a sufficiently creative set of data. Pat Speer and, in video format, Robert Harris criticise Myers’s approach. Russ Baker and Milicent Cranor place Myers’s work in context in their article, ‘The Mystery of the Constant Flow of JFK Disinformation’.
- John McAdams mounts a rearguard action in defence of the lone–nut theory. His site is good at debunking poorly supported conspiracy theories, but not so good at questioning the official account.
- Wikipedia can be a useful source of information, but the website should not be trusted for anything controversial. Several of the Wikipedia entries related to the JFK assassination are superficial and uncritical. More worryingly, at least one entry appears to be under the control of one person, and so is unlikely to be substantially improved. See https://kennedysandking.com/john-f-kennedy-articles/will-the-real-wikipedia-please-stand-up for the weaknesses of this entry and of Wikipedia in general. Wikipedia’s Byzantine editing system ensures that pages dealing with both controversial and uncontroversial topics can be hijacked by cliques or interested parties.