Category Archives: Book Reviews

History Has a Way of Repeating Itself

If you looked up the definition of “Destiny” in the dictionary, you will read that it says; “the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future”. President John F. Kennedy had a destiny predetermined in terms of his life and death. He had been groomed to become President of the United States following the death of his older brother Joe Jr. In terms of his death being pre-determined, many will argue about the circumstances surrounding his assassination and who was at fault and the many questions that still linger on today. However, I am a big believer in that history will repeat itself if we are not aware of what has happened in the past, and for those of us who love history know that it tends to repeat itself more times than none. While going through my typical weekly Ebay hunting for JFK memorabilia, I found a book that intrigued me, the title of the book “American Presidents and Destiny”. At first glance and without even reading the description, I knew this would be a book that I would be intrigued to purchase.

If you follow the history of the American Presidency you will find out a strange trend that had happened to Presidents starting with President William Harrison elected in 1840. President Harrison died in office as would Lincoln who was elected in 1860, Garfield elected in 1880, McKinley elected in 1900, Harding elected in 1920, Roosevelt elected in 1940, and of course President Kennedy elected in 1960. Every 20 years from 1840 until 1960 the President of the United States died in office. Now back to the book I was talking about that I found on Ebay. This book written in 1960 and published in September of that year asked the question on the front page if the next president will die in office. Once inside the book, it gives you the same information about the previous presidents who died in office, with 1960 left blank (the previous owner of the book wrote down Kennedy in those blank spots). Once I received the book in the mail, I started to comb through the various pages and finding different quotes that show how the author felt about history repeating itself. For instance, one quote in the book, “If this cycle of the presidents continues then the president elected in 1960 will die sometime between 1961 and 1969”. The author of the book did not seem to be a big Kennedy fan and in one section of the book, there is a question and answer section in which the author is asked if JFK would make a good president, despite him being of Catholic religion. The author answered this question by saying, “It is perhaps one of the most fateful developments in American history. It should be the matter of the deepest concern to all U.S citizens”. To the author, if JFK was elected President of the United States, then destiny would take over and history would repeat itself.

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I know this is not the typical assassination type material that I have posted in the past, but it is instead of some unique things you can find, whether it is on Ebay, t a thrift store, or at a local flea market. Items like this are unique and show the type of resistance JFK had in trying to get elected president and also shows a predetermined destiny. While hunting for new items to add to my collection I am starting to look more at things that came out before his assassination and see how people felt about JFK, whether it be good or bad. In some future posts, I will be showing you and reviewing some books that I have recently found that show these types of situations. If you have found something unique and would like to share, feel free to comment on the post or reach out to me and I will share on my page.

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What Could Have Been..

The word “Hope” is used a lot when talking about many of the great politicians who lives were cut too short. The 1960’s especially was a critical turning point in our country’s history, when the decade began with the word “Hope”. When President John F. Kennedy was elected the 35th President of the United States, he brought the word to the forefront of American politics. The young president spoke strong words in his inauguration speech, and left the country believing that our future was in good hands. As we know, his presidency was cut short and with his death, the word “Hope” was soon lost on that day in Dallas. Our hope for the future was no longer in his hands; instead it was left with a President who had a different agenda and a different mindset then that of his predecessor. No one could believe that Lyndon Johnson would continue the work that JFK had sought for the country, not even JFK’s brother Robert could believe it. When John Kennedy died on November 22nd, 1963 it would feel like the hope of the nation had left with him.

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It would be 5 years before the word “Hope” would once again come in front of the American people. A decision so many had hoped he would make, Senator Robert F. Kennedy decided to run for President of the United States 50 years ago this month. A turning point was on the horizon in American politics as Lyndon Johnson had turned into a hated figure, and hope was all but lost with him sitting in the Oval Office. Unable to sit back, and seeing an opportunity to bring back the word “Hope”, RFK made a decision to run. What transpired was a campaign that lasted for 3 months and instantly brought back that same breath of fresh air that JFK had brought 8 years before. The American people needed a leader like RFK to inspire them, to lead them, and to bring everyone together. The year 1968 in history books, is one that is filled with hatred and violence, but some of that could have changed had RFK been able to fulfill his destiny. Instead, destiny took a turn on the night of June 4th, 1968 as RFK was shot and killed having just won the Democratic primary in California. The speech RFK gave before his death was filled with the same hope and inspiring message of unity that he had been speaking about for the past 3 months on the campaign trail. Now that voice was silent, and another Kennedy’s life was cut too short to fully bring “Hope” to a reality.

Now as we look back on what could have been 50 years later, we are still tormented by the word “Hope”. To some, hope was lost on November 22, 1963, but to many, hope died on the day RFK took his last breath. We have seen over the years those who have tried to replicate the Kennedy flare, and bringing back “Hope”, but it is never the same and they are never able to come through. The country lost its faith in politicians in the 1960’s mostly in part to leaders like Johnson and Nixon, but that could have changed had Bobby won the election in 1968. We can never go back and time, but we can always think of what could have been scenario. By looking at the work someone had been putting in and seeing the belief that person had inn the country, makes you believe them to their word. Even though 50 years have passed, and he was never elected President of the United States, Robert Kennedy is just as beloved figure now as he was then. It is surrounded around the word “Hope”, a true belief that this man had the best interest in the country in mind and could have changed the course of history had he lived. I will end this post with the words of Ted Kennedy as he eulogized his brother Robert, “My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it”.

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Assistant President RFK

The assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963 set forth in motion a chain of events in the history of the United States that would reshape it in the years that followed. For those who lived during this time, the events in Dallas changed the lives of many Americans, some too young to understand, and some old enough to realize the damage it had done to our country. The motives behind the assassination have been speculated by many, and the outcome of the research takes the culprits in the assassination to the forefront. One of the theories that has been mentioned was the involvement of Vice-President Lyndon Johnson. Having once been the powerful majority leader of the Senate, the now Vice-President would find his role diminished by the Kennedy administration. In this book review you are going to learn about a book that I had found at a local flea market a few years back. The book, “Robert F. Kennedy: Assistant President”, shows you the possible motivation that Johnson could have had in wanting to ascend to the presidency.

The book written by Gary Gordon in 1962, highlights the many life accomplishments of RFK as he made his way to the position of Attorney General. Within the first few pages the author describes the book as, “The dramatic life story of the second most powerful man in Washington”. Interesting to note about this book since it was written in 1962, was the fact that many polls taken by Newsweek, and U.S News, and other news outlets, put RFK ahead of Lyndon Johnson in terms of their power and influence over the country. The main theme of the book is to bring RFK into the national spotlight and in hopes of showing the American people that he was more than just the President of the United States brother. In many parts of the book, the author paints RFK as the man who not only got JFK elected through his hard work as campaign manager, but that he was not willing to take on a cabinet spot within the administration.

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The many chapters in the book show the reader that RFK may not have been qualified to become Attorney General, but he was able to use his position within the White House to change the role that Attorney Generals had. If those outside of the White House were seeing the way RFK was having influence over the decisions that his brother was making, then you know LBJ saw it as well. As the book starts off showing the Presidential campaign of 1960, it backtracks to highlight the life of RFK. Having no lawyer experience, he did not want the position of Attorney General at first. Trying to not show favoritism to his own family, JFK knew he wanted RFK by his side in those critical decision making times, and that he needed to be a cabinet member to achieve that. According to the author, JFK was quoted as saying, “I’ll take Bobby’s word over almost anybody’s”. The idea of having a family member within the cabinet had not been done before, and RFK was afraid of the political backlash that it would have in a future re-election campaign.

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Something of interest in the book was the trip around the world that RFK took in the early stages of 1962. The trip would be unprecedented by a United States Attorney General, and it had the feel of something more. The trip usually meant for Vice-Presidents, and one that LBJ took himself, was meant for RFK to get a feel of foreign affairs. The trip enabled RFK to see the issues at hand, and he would be able to have a better decision making process on these situations once back in Washington with his brother. It is hard to imagine the LBJ did not take great offense to this, and felt the lack of support from both Kennedy brothers. At the end of the book, the author makes a statement that is eerie to read as it has a statement that looks into the future. The author states, “In 1968, with JFK prevented by the Constitution from running again, the speculation is that Bobby could go before the voters with eight years of experience as an Assistant President”. Was this the motivation that was needed for LBJ, to end the Kennedy presidency? Did he himself want the presidency after JFK, and having read the many magazines and books proclaiming RFK as the second man in Washington, finally get to him? It is just one of the many theories that have been claimed over the years, and books such as these spark the mind into thinking. This book was an interesting find, and I recommend to always be on the lookout for books such as these, as they could hold the motives that others had in assassinating the President of the United States.

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What he Saw; The Version of Events from Police Chief Curry

Recently I purchased a book written by Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry titled “JFK Assassination File”. This book was written in 1969, some 6 years after the assassination of President Kennedy and with conspiracy theories mounting around this time, this book would be an ideal way to get some monetary gain from the events in Dallas. Throughout this post I will highlight some of the parts of the book that stand out, and others that seem to be at odds of what he had said 6 years prior. This book was not on the bestseller list by no means, but it does give a viewpoint from the man that not only help set up the security surrounding the President of the United States visit, but also the security of the alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
Throughout the beginning of the book Chief Curry explains the tension that was around Dallas at the time and the divide the city was having when it came to politics. The shooting of General Edwin Walker on April, 10th 1963 was brought up in the beginning pages of the book, and the Chief points the finger to Oswald as the shooter, although this realization comes a month after the assassination of President Kennedy. The shooting of General Walker and the treatment of Ambassador Adlai Stevenson just a month before the Presidential visit prompted Chief Curry to use an unprecedented amount of the police force for the visit of President Kennedy.

In chapter two of his book, Chief Curry squarely puts the blame of the protection of the President on the Secret Service. As he mentions, “The Secret Service was entirely in charge of arranging the route and the press announcement was to be made by the host committee comprised of leading Dallas citizens”. Not known to Chief Curry at this time, one of the leading men on that committee would be the head of the Acme Building Maintenance Company Frank C. Jones, and it was his company that had access to the TSBD the night before the assassination. To Chief Curry, the Secret Service did not do enough prep work for the motorcade route and that areas of the route were not looked at closely. Instead, the area in which the President would be giving his speech, would be heavily guarded by Dallas Policemen. The Police Chief states, “The Secret Service were much more concerned about the security problems of the Trade Mart than any other single element of the President’s stay in Dallas”. Again, the Police Chief refuses to put any of the blame of the assassination onto his police force, and puts the entire blame onto the Secret Service. Many times in the book, Police Chief Curry highlights the things that the Secret Service did wrong, and we know that they did. But at the same time, he highlights things that his department did right. It is hard to think that anything went right during this trip with a President headed back in a casket. It should be noted that Police Chief Curry was aboard Air Force One while Lyndon Johnson was taking the oath of office. Instead of getting to the scene of the crime, he was instead trying to be a part of history that he didn’t need to be at.
Another aspect of the book that is intriguing, is the treatment of Oswald within police custody and the security that was in place for the accused assassin. According to Chief Curry the Dallas police department tried very hard not to let the suspect feel harassed in any way, and he says, “We were trying to be very certain that Oswald was not being coerced or harassed in any way”. Considering that it was the department that allowed the media to see the suspect inside of police headquarters shows that Chief Curry wanted to show that it was his department that captured the assassin of the President of the United States. In the interrogation of Oswald, Curry felt that the government agencies interfered too much and that his men could have gotten Oswald to talk more. As mentioned in the book, “Because of the constant pressure from other investigative agencies, Captain Fritz was never allowed to carry out an orderly private interview with Lee Harvey Oswald”. With the years of experience that Captain Fritz had, Curry believed that information could have come out with just a one on one talk. Again, the Police Chief puts the fault at the hands of the government and does not include any wrong doing that his department had in this process. Although Chief Curry states in his book that the interrogation process was corrupt, his Warren Commission statement seems to show otherwise,

Mr. Hubert.
It’s fair to say, then, that the interrogation of Oswald with respect to either the death of Tippit or of President Kennedy was in accordance with the normal procedures of the department ?
Mr. Curry.
That’s correct.

It would appear that Chief Curry thought the interrogation of Oswald was within standard procedure, but 6 years later he changed his mind.
The protection of Lee Oswald was something that did fall squarely into the hands of the Dallas Police Department and Police Chief Curry. The transfer of Oswald from Police Headquarters to the County Jail is something that will be looked at for a long time. How could the prime suspect in the murder of the President of the United States be killed while being transferred? The protection of Oswald has been questioned for years and Curry points out many times that he wanted to give Oswald space and rest so that he would be more willing to talk. During the planning process for the transfer it was determined that an armored truck would be taking Oswald to the county jail and that the media would be able to film the transfer. In actuality the armored truck was going to be used as a decoy and Oswald would be in a squad car. It would appear in the reading that the scope of the moment in history may have gotten to Curry because he felt the need to showcase this suspect. Not having been in a situation like this, and feeling the pressure of the national media, Curry decided to let the media into the basement for the transfer of Oswald. In true form as to the rest of this book, Curry states that his department is fully prepared for this event and says, “The security plans for the basement were entirely adequate”. History would prove otherwise to this statement, and Curry refuses to believe that his men let Ruby into the basement. If the security was well placed, then no one other than those from the national media would have been in that basement.
In the book, Curry states that the media was designated an area within the basement away from where Oswald was to be. An area that the media could set up and film the transfer without them seeing the police use the decoy vehicle. As Oswald came out from the elevator and headed into the basement, the media seemed to be right on top of him. This so-called designated area was so close to Oswald that each of them could reach out and touch him. It is Curry that states that he believed that the media made a mad rush to Oswald as he came out of the elevator and this enabled Ruby to get as close as he did within the commotion, he states, “In the enthusiasm of the moment, newsmen spilled across the drive toward the police elevator”. In all of the television broadcasts, it is apparent that all of them were able to set up their cameras in the locations that they were filming from and that they did not move. In the coverage from NBC, the camera is stationary and did not move. This book is a good informative inside look at the details that surrounded the security plans for the President’s visit to Dallas and the aftermath. The details in this book come from a Police Chief that believed his police force did everything they could to protect the President of the United States, and when it did not, he put the blame on others involved. Although the Secret Service was in charge of protecting the President, it was Curry’s police department that was in charge of protecting the truth and it failed when Oswald was killed inside of police headquarters. I recommend this book to those that have followed the assassination so that they can get a look from the view of Jesse Curry.

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