Reclaiming History
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Reclaiming History : The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

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At 1:00 p.m. on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead, the victim of a sniper attack during his motorcade through Dallas. That may be the only fact generally agreed upon in the vast literature spawned by the assassination. National polls reveal that an overwhelming majority of Americans (75%) believe that there was a high-level conspiracy behind Lee Harvey Oswald. Many even believe that Oswald was entirely innocent. In this continuously absorbing, powerful, ground-breaking book, Vincent Bugliosi shows how we have come to believe such lies about an event that changed the course of history. The brilliant prosecutor of Charles Manson and the man who forged an iron-clad case of circumstantial guilt around O. J. Simpson in his best-selling Outrage Bugliosi is perhaps the only man in America capable of writing the definitive book on the Kennedy assassination. This is an achievement that has for years seemed beyond reach. No one imagined that such a book would ever be written: a single volume that once and for all resolves, beyond any reasonable doubt, every lingering question as to what happened in Dallas and who was responsible. There have been hundreds of books about the assassination, but there has never been a book that covers the entire case, including addressing every piece of evidence and each and every conspiracy theory, and the facts, or alleged facts, on which they are based. In this monumental work, the author has raised scholarship on the assassination to a new and final level, one that far surpasses all other books on the subject. It adds resonance, depth, and closure to the admirable work of the Warren Commission. Reclaiming History is a narrative compendium of fact, forensic evidence, reexamination of key witnesses, and common sense. Every detail and nuance is accounted for, every conspiracy theory revealed as a fraud on the American public. Bugliosi's irresistible logic, command of the evidence, and ability to draw startling inferences shed fresh light on this American nightmare. At last it all makes sense.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 1696 pages
  • 180.34 x 259.08 x 68.58mm | 2,517.42g
  • WW Norton & Co
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 32 pages of illustrations
  • 0393045250
  • 9780393045253
  • 175,651

Review quote

"This is quite simply a book that will be read for centuries." -- Scott Turow, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller Presumed Innocent "At last, someone has done it, put all the pieces together. With this work, Bugliosi has definitively explained the murder that recalibrated modern America. It is a book for the ages." -- Jim Newton - Los Angeles Times Book Review "This encyclopedic work is a bargain. Mr. Bugliosi's verve for setting the record straight is unequaled and will probably never be surpassed...Unlike any other book on the assassination ever produced by a single author, Reclaiming History [should] probably be shelved along-side the two massive federal investigations of the assassination." -- Wall Street Journal "Absent a trial proving [Oswald's] guilt, Bugliosi has offered the next best thing: a prosecutor's air-tight brief that leaves no reasonable doubt. Bugliosi is right that this case is, and ought to be, closed." -- Alan Wolfe - Washington Post "Reclaiming History is the final word on the Kennedy assassination. It sets out to recapture the assassination from the conspiracy theorists, and succeeds so triumphantly that only the most demented reader could doubt its conclusions." -- Telegraph (London) "What Bugliosi has done is a public service. This book should be applauded...More than a critical analysis...[it] is the literary equivalent of World War I, a kind of trench warfare for the mind." -- Bryan Burrough - New York Times Book Review "Few books are as gripping in their narrative, or as telling in their fine detail. This is a book that will make you weep. Powerfully, Reclaiming History evokes the confusion and awful fatefulness, a feeling of the world ripped asunder, that gripped millions at the time." -- Philadelphia Inquirer "With indignation crackling on every page...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... [Bugliosi's] richly textured book is as engrossing as it is convincing." -- Boston Globeshow more

Review Text

Manson Family prosecutor Bugliosi (Helter Skelter, 1974, etc.) takes on the endless and various host of JFK conspiracy buffs in this ponderous tome.By the author's count, there are nearly 350 organizations and individuals who have been implicated in the conspiracy theories swirling around the president's murder on November 22, 1963. Most of the buffs advancing them, he growls, are "as kooky as a three-dollar bill in their beliefs and paranoia about the assassination," and he has a point; one multi-conspiracy advocate, reminded that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had not been named as a party in the assassination and cover-up, replied, "Give us time." The point of this metropolitan phone book - sized volume, it seems, is to dismantle those theories one by one, in sometimes tedious and overladen detail; but given the multiplicity of those theories and the evidence required to dispel them, it is hard to imagine that the book or approach could have been much different. Perhaps the most pervasive argument - apart from the overarching one that Lee Harvey Oswald could not, for various reasons, have acted alone - is that the Warren Commission deliberately acted to suppress evidence of conspiracy, to which one counsel tells Bugliosi, "The one thing I wanted to do was find a conspiracy . If I could have found that Oswald didn't do it, I'd have been the senator from Ohio, not John Glenn." In turn, Bugliosi examines and then dismisses theories concerning the so-called magic bullet found on Kennedy's stretcher, the audio reports of a second shooter, the alleged involvement of organized crime, the several charges that Fidel Castro or perhaps anti-Castro Cubans killed Kennedy and the omnibus innuendoes of Oliver Stone's film JFK, which rolled several conspiracy theories into one.Bugliosi does himself and his argument no favors with his tone of flippancy and dismissiveness, as when he chides conspiracy buffs for failing to admit the possibility that "a nut like Oswald would flip out and commit the act." Still, this compendium is oddly fascinating, even if it probably won't change anyone's mind. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Vincent Bugliosi

Vincent Bugliosi (1934-2015), was the prosecutor of Charles Manson and author of Helter Skelter, Outrage, and other #1 best-selling books.show more

Customer reviews

Reclaiming history is a truly impressive book �???�??�?�¢�?�¢?�?�¬�?�¢?? a monumental accomplishment - scholarly, deeply researched and comprehensive. Few books on this tragic event would come close to approaching its depth of coverage and detail. It examines everything: the event itself, the main characters, the official commissions and the various conspiracies. He leaves no stone unturned. Bugliosi takes the reader step by step through every aspect of the assassination in much the same way as he, a highly accomplished prosecutor, would in a trial. Not only is his arguments compelling and convincing, but also the way in which he explains the evidence, both physical and circumstantial, is utterly engrossing. The book is massive and probably could have been trimmed down significantly. It is in effect several books in one. The chapter describing the event itself has in fact been published as a separate book, entitled �???�??�?�¢�?�¢?�?�¬�???Parkland�???�??�?�¢�?�¢?�?�¬�?�¢?�?�¢. There is also a lengthy chapter on Oswald�???�??�?�¢�?�¢?�?�¬�?�¢?�?�¢s life, as well as chapters explaining the many conspiracies including a full chapter debunking Oliver Stone�???�??�?�¢�?�¢?�?�¬�?�¢?�?�¢s ridiculous movie, �???�??�?�¢�?�¢?�?�¬�???JFK�???�??�?�¢�?�¢?�?�¬�?�¢?�?�¢. While extremely long, it is engrossing and as such easy to read. If I have any reservations it is, because of the way in which the book is organised, somewhat repetitive. But I can see why he felt the need to repeat points, given the need to remind the reader of these points as associated points were raised in subsequent chapters. The other criticism I have is that Bugliosi throughout the book makes one too many sarcastic remarks about the various conspiracy theories and conspiracy authors. He has little time for conspiracy peddlers and finds it hard to hide his contempt. Don�???�??�?�¢�?�¢?�?�¬�?�¢?�?�¢t be put off by its length; if you have a keen interest in this profound event, this book makes for essential reading.show more
by Gary Chow
Reclaiming History made me laugh; out loud. Not when author Vincent Bugliosi was attempting to be humorous by making one of his numerous sneering, sarcastic remarks at the expense of those who dare to believe that John F. Kennedy's murder was the result of conspiracy. But when he was being sincere. A few pages into his lengthy introduction, Bugliosi writes, "...the [Warren] Commission's conduct throughout the investigation clearly shows that its members only had one objective, to discover the truth of what happened." Ludicrous! In the face of the massive documentary record we now have at our disposal proving the exact opposite to be true, it is completely ridiculous for Bugliosi to make that statement in this millennium. But he does say it, and he apparently expects us to take his word for it. This type of attitude, "I'm right because I say I am and my saying so proves it" can be seen throughout his tedious 1600 page tome. It is neither entertaining nor enlightening. [For those who are truly interested in how the commission operated and why it arrived at the conclusions it did, the authoritative work was written by respected historian Gerald D. McKnight; Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why - a book that Bugliosi lists in his bibliography but either did not read or failed to comprehend] But Bugliosi makes clear from the outset, indeed from his presumptuous title, that apologising for the Warren Commission is not the only purpose of his book. Its primary intention is to silence the critics or, as he likes to call them, "conspiracy buffs." Bugliosi writes that "the majority" of conspiracy theorists, "knowingly mislead their readers by lies, omissions and deliberately distorting the official record." He also claims that when confronted with contradictory evidence, the critics resort to one of two tactics, either "twist, warp and distort the evidence" or "simply ignore it." These are strong and in some cases true words. But the exact same charges can be fairly levelled at Bugliosi himself. For example, Bugliosi states in his introduction that conspiracy theorists have been erroneously claiming for years that no one has ever duplicated the shooting feat the Warren Commission attributed to Oswald, and implies that critics have perpetuated this supposed falsehood by ignoring evidence found in the Warren Commission volumes. "On page 446 of volume 3," he writes, "we learn that way back in 1964, one 'Specialist Miller' of the U.S. Army, using Oswald's own Mannlicher Carcano rifle, not only duplicated what Oswald did, but improved on Oswald's time." Nothing Bugliosi is alleging here is in any way acquainted with the facts. Firstly, the tests to which he is referring have been covered countless times by numerous critics including Mark Lane in his 1966 book, Rush to Judgment and Sylvia Meagher in her acclaimed 1967 work, Accessories After the Fact. And secondly, the "duplication" was achieved by drastically altering the firing conditions and using riflemen far superior to Oswald - who was teased by his fellow marines due to his inability to qualify with his rifle. For the Army test, three rifleman, all rated as "Masters" by the National Rifle Association, fired at three stationary targets, rather than a moving one, from a tower thirty feet lower than the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. For confirmation of Oswald's ability to pull off the assassination, this test was about as much use as a chocolate teapot. And Bugliosi's treatment of this issue conclusively demonstrates that when faced with evidence he does not like, he is ready to do exactly what he says the critics are prone to do, "simply ignore it." Nonetheless, in his childish and unscholarly way, Bugliosi continues to hurl insults at the conspiracy believers. "Waiting for the conspiracy theorists to tell the truth," he says, "is a little like leaving the front-porch light on for Jimmy Hoffa." And, "The conspiracy theorists are so brazen that they tell lies...about verifiable, documentary evidence." For the most part, Bugliosi sees no need to make a distinction between the responsible critic and the outlandish theorist, preferring instead to tar all with the same brush. He appears to relish in making sweeping, derogatory generalizations such as, "Ninety-nine percent of the conspiracy community are not, of course, writers and authors. These conspiracy 'buffs' are obsessed...and actually attend conspiracy-oriented conventions...most of them are as kooky as a three-dollar bill..." It is obvious that Bugliosi needs to paint a negative picture of the JFK research community as a whole in order to make his own theory more palatable. He no doubt believes that his disrespectful, acerbic manner appears clever or witty but his bile-spewing tactics reveal how little faith he has in his own conclusion. As the old saying goes; an empty can rattles the most. Bugliosi's ego would never let him admit it, but Reclaiming History spectacularly fails to live up to its intention of settling the controversy. It fails because, despite Bugliosi's assurances that his only master and mistress "are the facts and objectivity," he commits the exact same sins of which he accuses the conspiracy theorists - and adds a few more. He consistently fills his narrative with hypothetical instances in place of actual evidence and expects the reader to take his word for it. His book is practically brimming over with phrases such as "must have," "reason to believe," "most likely" and "probably." This over-use of the hypothetical may be standard practice in a court room, but it is not how history should be written. Far from sticking to the facts, Reclaiming History is far and away the most factually inept, theory driven and speculative book ever written on the Kennedy assassination.show more
by Martin Hay