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Reviews

“As a young man growing up in the heyday of Kennedy assassination theorizing, Fred Litwin believed a conspiracy killed JFK.  And then he grew, and he studied and he researched.  The result is this volume, a thorough, cogent and meticulously argued case for a lone assassin.  A seasoned conspiracy skeptic will learn new things here, and a conspiracy believer open to looking at the other side could do no better than this volume.”

  • John McAdams, Associate Professor of Political Science at Marquette University and author of JFK Assassination Logic: How to Think about Claims of Conspiracy

 

“This is a great book for conspiracy buffs—and, more important, for those who debunk such theories. Fred Litwin does a terrific job in blowing up the myriad JFK assassination scenarios, not least in completely demolishing The Fifth Estate’s decades-long efforts to “uncover” the truth. The CBC’s lead investigative show is revealed here to be more than slightly unhinged.”

  • J. L. Granatstein, Author of Who Killed Canadian History?

 

“Who killed John F. Kennedy has become the conspiracy theory of conspiracy theories. Despite the many recent books debunking all of them, scores of people still believe Lee Harvey Oswald was not involved or had accomplices, and was directed by either Moscow, the CIA, the FBI, Lyndon Johnson, Fidel Castro,  or whomever one chooses to accuse.

In Fred Litwin’s marvelous book, he charts how he went from becoming one of the earlier skeptics to someone dedicated to dissecting their arguments and carefully tearing them apart. The penultimate chapter is the one in which Litwin takes a scalpel to the vehicle that has unfortunately convinced many Americans there was a real conspiracy. That source is the famous Oliver Stone movie, JFK, in which Litwin shows the director created a nonexistent homosexual cabal planning to assassinate Kennedy, which was also in cahoots with the CIA. The agency, according to Stone, wanted Kennedy dead because he was about to pull U.S. troops out of Vietnam! Exposing Stone’s lies after lies, the director won’t know what hit him if he dares to read Litwin’s book.

Litwin continues to update the many books and new theories that keep coming to prove conspiracy, up to the present. What he has accomplished is to put the final nail in the coffin of all the conspiracy theorists, who develop new ones as old theories are proven wrong. He has given us a beautifully written and compelling book, one in which Litwin tells the bold, unvarnished truth. How anyone reading this can still conclude that JFK was killed by various conspirators, rather than the lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald, is beyond my comprehension. Everyone still concerned with JFK’s death and thinks it’s a mystery, must read Fred Litwin’s I Was a Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak. They will be glad they did.”

  • Ronald Radosh, Professor Emeritus of History at CUNY, opinion columnist for The Daily Beast and co-author of A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel.

 

“Mr. Litwin’s book is the best in many, many years in dealing with the truth about this horrendous piece of history…and exposing the fakirs, cons and opportunists who often call themselves “historians.” A fine presentation!”

  • Hugh Aynesworth, Author of November 22, 1963: Witness to History and JFK: Breaking the News

 

“Fred Litwin has written an entertaining and informative book that explains why he changed his mind about a JFK conspiracy. The book does not discuss every issue of interest to JFK assassination students (impossible since there are hundreds) over the course of its modest 272 pages. Nor will it change many minds among the current generation of theorists, who are motivated by a naïve view that the world, had Kennedy lived, would have been very different. Under this belief, the Vietnam War, Watergate and any number of other national maladies would have been avoided by the continuation of the Camelot regime, a view that Litwin argues credibly against. These theorists simply choose to ignore the voluminous evidence developed by the Warren Commission and enhanced by the HSCA, or they say it is falsified, planted or otherwise misinterpreted. These same individuals scour the millions of available documents for bits of information that when viewed through the lens of their own bias results in confirmation of whatever pet theory they support. Most of these people will not read Litwin’s book, but they will criticize it. However, those open minded enough to give it a chance will be entertained and, in the process, learn something from a guy who has been there.”

 

“Now Fred Litwin, in his new book, I Was a Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak, traces his transformation from a young, energetic conspiracist to the vigorous debunker he is today. The result is a brisk, bracing, witty, and surprisingly comprehensive read, and one that ought to be considered by anyone in Generation Z who is intrigued by the assassination and thinking of joining the research community.

A caveat is required: Litwin favorably cites some of my work on the assassination in his text and source notes, so this review might not be regarded as disinterested. So be it.

The great divide among conspiracists, of course, has always been the 1967 to 1969 investigation by New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison, whose own account of the probe later became the basis for Oliver Stone’s 1991 film JFK. Litwin devotes the most pages to these closely bound-together milestones, and probably deservedly so. Garrison’s prosecution of Clay Shaw was the only time someone was tried for conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy. And whatever one might think of Stone’’s movie, it has to rank as one of the most influential pieces of work to ever come out of Hollywood. Few, if any, films can lay claim to having instigated new law, although to be sure, the corresponding end of the cold war in the early 1990s was a necessary precondition. Nonetheless The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 only came about because of the controversy the film generated.

Litwin is merciless in his criticism of first Garrison, and then Stone—a stance which has garnered the author the attention of Garrison/Stone’s leading sycophants and apologists. Little of the substance of Litwin’s criticism is new, but his angle of attack is somewhat novel. He correctly Images stresses the homophobia underlying Garrison’s baseless and fanciful indictment of Clay Shaw, a prominent New Orleans businessman who happened to be a closeted homosexual. (Before finally fingering the CIA/military-industrial complex as the guilty party, Garrison proclaimed the assassination was a “homosexual thrill-killing”). American mores have shifted dramatically since the late 1960s, and it is almost impossible to imagine a contemporary prosecutor getting away with the persecution of a vulnerable, if prominent, member of society because of his or her sexual preferences. Shaw’s homosexuality was reported at the time, but in retrospect, the role it played in his two-year ordeal was underappreciated. Of the two men, Garrison and Stone, it is difficult to decide which is more despicable. Garrison abused his office, while Stone cynically turned a demented demagogue into a hero styled after Gary Cooper, while depicting Shaw as some inchoate combination of an assassination ringleader/snooty sexual deviant/CIA operative.

The chapter in Litwin’s book that came as the biggest eye-opener concerns the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which, like the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in this country, aired documentaries on the assassination periodically. It is a well-known fact that the late Don Hewitt, a famed CBS producer who also founded that network’s 60 Minutes program, was an avid believer in a conspiracy. Nonetheless, Hewitt participated in several CBS documentaries about the assassination that rank among the best shows ever produced on the subject. The same cannot be said for the CBC and its version of Hewitt, Brian McKenna. Litwin, who is Canadian, traces how The Fifth Estate, CBC’s premier investigative documentary series, has repeatedly propagated what another CBC producer called, in an unguarded moment, “responsible sensationalism.” It is sobering to read that the nonsense about the assassination that is so routinely spouted domestically also finds credulous producers and audiences elsewhere.”