When Vincent Bugliosi wrote Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, published in May, 2007, the predecessor of the book being reviewed here, it was widely regarded as his magnum opus, a towering masterpiece which took twenty years and 1648 pages to write. In this new edition about the assassination, drawn from Reclaiming History, Bugliosi has now winnowed the original manuscript to approximately 500 pages, concentrating on the facts of the assassination and eliminating nearly all the material used by the conspiracy theorists because he has essentially disproved the conspiracy idea.
Four Days in November reconstructs the assassination, giving dates and times, sometimes second by second, to make these real events come to life, and he includes seventy-nine photographs and drawings. The resulting achievement is stunning, an intensely readable and compelling work of scholarship which should eliminate, once and for all, the idea that there was more than one gunman. Photographs of the shooting, broken down into tiny fractions of a second, anatomical drawings of the wounds of President Kennedy and Governor Connolly, fingerprint evidence in the "sniper's nest" at the Book Depository, extensive photographs of the grassy knoll at the time of the shooting, and accounts from many eye-witnesses provide weighty, seemingly incontrovertible, evidence that Oswald was the lone shooter.
Bugliosi, who prosecuted Charles Manson in the Tate-LaBianca trial and then went on to write Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders about that trial, is an accomplished writer who shares with the reader the kinds of details that he, as a prosecutor, counts as compelling evidence. At the same time, he is a painstaking recreator of scenes and observer of human nature. His intuitive sense of how people behave gives him an understanding of their psychology and, at times, motivations, all of which humanize this account of seemingly inhuman actions. Focusing on Lee Harvey Oswald and his dysfunctional family, the Dallas police and press, Jack Ruby and the underworld which he represents in Dallas, and the Kennedy family as it comes to grips not only with the loss of the President but with the loss of a loved one, Bugliosi provides an intimate and unforgettable look at a national tragedy which, in his hands, is also transformed into a moving series of personal tragedies.
Readers who begin this book will be as compelled to keep reading, as details unfold, as were all of us who lived through these events during that terrible long weekend in November, 1963, when we remained glued to our TV sets around the clock, and the entire country shut down. Bugliosi's total dedication to providing every relevant detail, his ability to convey the atmosphere and the understandable confusion following the shooting, his sensitivity to the feelings of the innocent people and families who were permanently scarred by these events, and his honesty in recreating events without trying to make the facts "fit" an agenda, make this book a milestone of historical research, endowing these terrible events with the respect--and finality--they deserve. n Mary Whipple
Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery
The Death of a President November 20-November 25 1963
The Warren Commission Report: Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy