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The weight of evidence

Posted by David Mehegan  May 4, 2007 04:08 PM

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Z133.jpg
The first frame of the Zapruder film

Vincent Bugliosi's new book, "Reclaiming History: the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy," has just arrived, all 1,612 pages, plus the CD. Though polls still find that as much as 75 percent of the American public still believes there was some conspiracy, the book argues that there is no doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald killed the president, and beyond any reasonable doubt that one else was involved. Bugliosi dismisses all conspiracy theories as nonsense, and says the Warren Commission basically got it right.

This conclusion is nothing new, of course. But Bugliosi, the prosecutor in the Charles Manson murder trial and author of a bestselling book on the case, "Helter Skelter," presents his book as the definitive treatment of the events of November 22, 1963, and even disparages other books that have come to the same conclusions, such as Gerald Posner's "Case Closed."

It will be interesting to see how well this massive book (full price is $49.95) sells. Assassination aficionados will buy it, of course, as will libraries and historians. But a quick look-through reveals it to be a formidable undertaking for a reader. It has 1,510 pages of text, including many footnotes in tiny type. If you read 50 pages a day, it would take a month to read it.

One can't help but suspect that, however thorough and persuasive the book is, it will have little effect on the public's view of this event, and certainly will only encourage the conspiracy nuts, who always rise to a challenge. That is the nature of paranoia.

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