A work of monumental research and overwhelming evidence, Case Closed restores the human drama to one of the watershed events in American history, and in the process answers the nagging riddle of how and why Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK.
The first ten chapters are a biography of Oswald leading up to his alleged assassination of JFK. Oswald is depicted as a loser, a liar, a psychopath, a Marxist, a former defector to the Soviet Union, a wife-beater and a violent man. Oswald had no positive qualities whatsoever, with the exception that he was sufficiently able enough of a shooter to allow him to act upon his increasingly dangerous revolutionary aspirations.
Posner recounts how Oswald had previously attempted (and failed) to assassinate General Edwin Walker. "He compiled a blue looseleaf folder, an operations manual for an action he was planning against Walker. It was filled with photographs of the general's house and a safe place to stash a rifle, as well as maps of a carefully designed escape route. Later, when Marina [his wife] discovered its existence, he told her it was 'a complete record so that all the details would be in it'." (p. 104)
Having given the reader a sense of Oswald's criminal mind and modus operandi, the subsequent account of the JFK assassination, however, is too inconsistent with it. Posner states that "Oswald had little time for planning, perhaps not much more than twenty-four hours." (p. 262) The reader is now expected to believe that Oswald, who was so meticulous in his planning on the Walker attempt, would now hastily try to kill the President from the very same building that he worked in, with people lining the streets outside, and in broad daylight. How could he possibly have hoped to get away with it, especially given the FBI's watchfulness about his activities, including person-to-person contact with both him and his wife?
Posner states: "It was not a suicide mission. Oswald also wanted to escape, although he probably had not planned much beyond getting away from the Depository before the police sealed the area." (p. 262) Regarding the question of where would Oswald flee to, Posner provides an explanation from Warren Commission counsel David Belin that Oswald intended to take a bus to Mexico. Yet, Oswald had only $13.87 on him when arrested and had left $170.00 to his wife. How is it that Oswald, this wife beater who was in a failing marriage at the time, all of a sudden became so chivalrous towards his wife by leaving her "almost all their life savings" (p. 272), while attempting to flee to Mexico on only thirteen dollars? Yet, Posner calls this "a plausible explanation." I call it untenable.
The explanations of the bullet trajectories are equally unsatisfying. For instance, Posner is intent on proving that the wound on the front of JFK's neck was an exit wound--and not an entrance wound as some conspiracy theorists have claimed. "Was the hole in the front of the President's neck, described as only 5mm to 8mm in size, too small to be an exit wound, as some have charged? 'There is a mistaken impression that exit wounds are large, gaping wounds,' says Dr. [Michael] Baden [chief forensic pathologist for the House Select Committee on Assassinations]. 'They can be large, but if the bullet isn't tumbling and doesn't hit anything inside the body beyond soft tissue, they can be very small'." (p. 305) In appendix A, called "The Ballistics of Assassination: Graphic Analysis," Posner illustrates that the bullet tumbled only after exiting Kennedy's throat. Subsequently, the bullet went on to hit Governor Connally whose "entry wound in right shoulder was 1 1/4" long--the exact length of the bullet--indicating the bullet was tumbling end over end." (p. 485) The reader had been lead to believe that the President's neck exit wound was small because the bullet was not tumbling, yet no explanation is provided for how a bullet can begin tumbling only after it has exited. Certainly, only a "magic bullet" could do that.
The concluding sentences of the author's preface states: "The troubling issues and questions about the assassination can be settled, the issue of who killed JFK resolved, and Oswald's motivation revealed. Presenting those answers is the goal of this book." (p. xv) Judged by that standard, this book has not achieved its primary goals. On 11/21/03, the eve of the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of JFK, the Gallup Organization's web site published an opinion poll stating: "Three-quarters of Americans recently told Gallup that they think more than one man was involved in the Kennedy assassination. Only 19% of Americans think it was the work of one individual." Posner's views are very far from achieving acceptance with the general public, and I do not agree with his conclusions.