Your JFK 50th anniversary starter set
The media has a thing for anniversaries that end in 0's and 5's.
And, when you get one where the 5 is IN FRONT OF the 0, it's a really big deal.
Welcome to what awaits you come November 2013 when the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination rolls around (memo to frequent blog reader/JFK assassination topic hater "muffinmom": mouse-click now to avoid the rest of this article).
The city of Dallas is already trying to cope with what is expected to be a huge gathering come noon or so on the 22nd of that month and how to balance those who will want to solemnly remember the President's murder with a bevy of conspiracy theorists, crackpots and carnival barkers hoping to turn a buck on the occasion.
Expect a raft of TV specials, documentaries and films (Tom Hanks is making a movie called "Parkland" expected to be released right around the time of the anniversary). Some will deal with the ever-shrinking list of witnesses and others who had speaking parts that day. Others will rehash the same old who-done-it theories.
I've read and watched and listened to a lot this stuff over the years, admittedly devoting way too much time to this rather depressing topic. Why? Don't know. Why do some people bird watch? We all have our passions. This one is mine.
As the anniversary approaches, I offer up a short list of suggested reading and viewing. It'll get you ready for what's ahead and prep you to have a fairly intelligent chat with others who may dip into the array of shows/films/cable news chats that's coming. Be forewarned: it's heavily slanted toward the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
--Vincent Bugliosi's "Reclaiming History" which weighs about 20 pounds and is, in my humble opinion, the be-all of JFK assassination tomes. Bugliosi is the guy who put Charles Manson away for life and knows his way around a courtroom. He does a fabulous job of proving Oswald pulled the trigger all by his lonesome while shredding the various conspiracy theories in a measured, intelligent way.
--Gerald Posner's "Case Closed". It preceded Bugliosi's work and is a much shorter read. It's not as thorough, but it takes the same tact: Oswald did it all and isn't worthy of those who work so hard to prove his innocence.
--"Three Shots That Changed America": a compilation of TV news coverage of the crime as it happened. Television journalism caught in it's infancy. Wow.
--Peter Jennings' seminal documentary "Beyond Conspiracy". Here's the opening segment.
--and, just to balance things out, there's David Lifton's book "Best Evidence" which pitches one of the kookiest conspiracy theories ever involving multiple caskets, secret autopsies and a plot so mind-numbingly complex and convoluted there's no way it could've been pulled off, much less kept secret for decades. It didn't keep Lifton from selling a ton of books.
I can't, in good faith, suggest Oliver Stone's "JFK". The 1991 blockbuster is good filmmaking (it got eight Oscar nominations) but it's a disservice to the study of the case in that it meshes so many theories in such a confusing way. It's not a documentary. Stone didn't mean it to be. It's simply way too loose with the facts.
The steady drip, drip, drip of Kennedy remembrances is just around the corner. The beauty of living in these wonderful digital/cable/satellite/on-demand times is that you can consume as much of it as you want--or, you can totally avoid it if it doesn't speak to you.
Me? I'll be all ears, as I have been most of my 55 years.