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Marking the 50th Anniversary of JFK’S Assassination on November 22, 2013
HISTORY WILL PROVE US RIGHT:
Inside the Warren Commission Investigation into the Assassination of John F. Kennedy
by Howard P. Willens
“A superbly written account by someone who knows precisely what needs to be said and how to say it.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Willens’s account deserves close and careful scrutiny by anyone interested in the Kennedy assassination.” Library Journal
The only book to be written by a member of the management team of the Warren Commission, and based on never-before-seen personal documents and correspondence preserved for fifty years
After its public release in September 1964, the Warren Commission’s report on the assassination of President Kennedy initially received widespread praise for the scope of its investigation and the reasoned analysis that supported its conclusions. A few years later, when one of the commission’s lawyers complained to Chief Justice Earl Warren about the growing criticism of the report, he replied: “History will prove us right.”
The Chief Justice was right. Notwithstanding the thousands of books, articles, and films challenging the commission’s report, there is not one fact that has come to light that undercuts the commission’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin and that neither he nor Jack Ruby, who killed Oswald, was part of any conspiracy.
HISTORY WIL PROVE US RIGHT: Inside the Warren Commission Investigation into the Assassination of John F. Kennedy by Howard P. Willens (Overlook Press, November 1, 2013, Hardcover, $29.95, 400 pages, 978-1-4683-0755-9) is the only book written about the commission by someone who was part of the management team that supervised the largest criminal investigation ever conducted in the United States. Howard Willens was a 32- year-old attorney in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department when he was asked to assist in the organization and staffing of the commission. Willens was involved with every facet of the commission’s work.
Willens’ book is based on a very special set of materials. They include chronological correspondence files, which contain virtually all of the investigative requests sent by the commission to the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, or other agencies assisting the commission, as well as the memos sent to the commission and staff. Willens kept a personal journal that recorded all contemporaneous comments about the activities of the commission – the only such journal written by anyone associated with the commission. The journal describes his meetings with Chief Justice Warren, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and Deputy Attorney General Nicolas Katzenbach. It reveals the conflicts among commission members regarding critical questions facing them, such as their obligation to recommend improvements in the protection of our president, and the wording of their conclusions regarding the existence of any conspiracy.
HISTORY WILL PROVE US RIGHT is the true story of what really happened during the Warren Commission’s investigation of the assassination. It describes how the commission conducted its own investigation, eventually developing a record based on the testimony of 552 witnesses and more than 3000 exhibits. It sets forth the Commission’s often difficult relations with the key federal agencies and the extent to which they learned a decade later that both the FBI and CIA had lied to them on critical matters involved in their investigation. It describes some of the most interesting testimony before the commission including the assassin’s widow Marina Oswald, Jacqueline Kennedy, Secret Service agents defending their poor performance in Dallas, and Jack Ruby’s insistence on a polygraph examination to support his testimony that he was not part of any conspiracy. It also acknowledges some of the commission’s mistakes, which unfortunately have contributed in part to conspiracy theories that have thrived over the decades.
Willens enables the reader to understand the way in which the commission members and staff worked and thereby be able to evaluate the validity and credibility of their findings. He also discusses the history of the Warren Commission report over the last nearly five decades. During this period the commission’s conclusions have been subject to four major investigations. None produced any facts that invalidated, or seriously questioned, the commission’s conclusions.
Howard Willens and his colleagues on the Warren Commission concur with Chief Justice Warren, who in 1965 when faced with criticism about the report stated, “History will prove us right.” Willens’ comprehensive book adds fresh and provocative material to the ongoing debate about JFK’s assassination.
“Finally, the much needed book on the Warren Commission.” — Vincent Bugliosi, bestselling author of Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy
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