Sunday, September 23, 2007

JOHN CHUCKMAN REVIEW: EDWARD J. EPSTEIN'S ASSASSINATION CHRONICLES

EDWARD J. EPSTEIN ASSASSINATION CHRONICLES BY JOHN CHUCKMAN, April 1, 2005


The Assassination Chronicles consists of three short books - Inquest, Counterplot, and Legend - written over a period of about a dozen years and combined into one volume.

Inquest established Epstein's bona fides on the Kennedy assassination and is the most readable volume. It is essentially an effort to concede criticisms of early and penetrating critics such as Joachim Joesten while preserving the Warren Commission's central findings intact. It contains pretty much nothing that others had not already said by the time of its publication.

Other writing of Epstein's suggests intelligence connections, and his handling of the issues around the assassination tend very much to serve official interests.

If you are informed on the hard facts of the assassination, Counterplot and Legend are almost unreadable. There is a palpable sense of reading a case against an accused without a word from the defense. These are not investigations in any meaningful sense of the word. Epstein assumes the role of Judge Warren without the judicial robes, dressed instead in the deceivingly casual dress of a supposedly authentic critic.

There is no explanation to this day for the secrecy that still surrounds important parts of the Kennedy assassination, and it is this secrecy that blurs and distorts so much of the key evidence. Were this not so, books like Epstein's would not be published. Except for the concessions made in his first volume, Inquest, Epstein simply does not deal with the case's central issues of missing evidence, weak evidence, and implausible evidence. He stands ready to accuse and judge a man who had no motive, almost no means, and against whom what genuine facts we have would never convince a conscientious jury.

Something terribly significant has been kept from the world for more than forty years since the assassination, and books like The Assassination Chronicles, or Gerald Posner's update, aka Case Closed, are significant efforts along the way to keeping it that way.

One can only speculate on the reasons for all the secrecy, including the possibility that the CIA and FBI never understood who was responsible. Now, there was a state secret worth keeping in a time of Cold War paranoia. And the secrecy concerns are still valid. After all, the CIA and the FBI blew it on the imminent fall of the Soviet Union and on the activities of the 9/11 gang who entered the U.S. with legally-issued visas to take flying lessons.

No one should read this book without also reading Anthony Summers' monumental work of genuine investigation, Conspiracy.

No comments: