I was about 10 years old when I became obsessed with baseball. By the time my younger brother, Ian, was near that same milestone — OK, maybe he was a little bit older, but not that much — he had his own somewhat different preoccupation.
Ian was fascinated by the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the idea of the tragedy being something far more vast than merely the work of Lee Harvey Oswald. Strangely enough, he also has a photograph of Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby that used to hang in his home. I imagine this image of such a notorious moment in history was removed around the time he met the woman who later became his wife. (Whether it was her idea to remove the picture from his décor, I would need to verify.) Now that Ian is no longer married, perhaps Ruby and Oswald are on display again in his Alaska apartment.
I remember Ian somehow coming into possession of a used hardcover book, “Six Seconds in Dallas.” Written by Josiah Thompson, a journalist and college professor, the book offered a detail researching of the fateful events of 50 years ago today. Though the book is now out of print, it can still be purchased on Amazon.com for $95 hardcover or $125 paperback.
While I could recite current and past baseball statistics with savant-like skill, Ian seemingly had “Six Seconds in Dallas” committed to memory. Needless to say, this work isn’t a simple retelling of the Warren Report — the front cover subtitle reads, “A micro study of the Kennedy assassination proving that three gunmen murdered the President.”At 323 pages in length, there’s quite a bit of analysis of six seconds in time, but I recall the book’s conclusion being definitive and impactful.
It’s interesting to read the Amazon.com reader reviews. One states, “With dozens upon dozens of far-fetched theories about the JFK assassination, this book above all others is the most sane, the most rational, and the most logical.” Another hails the book as “the first, and still the best, scientific inquiry into the murder of President John F. Kennedy.” The comments are overwhelming positive.
I recall flipping through the book intermittently, but not to any point where I could recite large portions of its contents. I think if it were still in print and easily accessible, I might read it. Many, many others might, too, considering it has been 50 years since — as our front page today puts it — “the day the nation wept.”
The JFK assassination, all these years later, continues to fascinate. New books, after all, come out all the time. For people of a certain generation, it is the seminal “where were you when you heard moment” in their lifetime. (I’d say mine, right now, has two — the Challenger explosion and, 15 years later, 9/11). The fact that Kennedy had such an aura about him — beloved by many, though certainly reviled by others — and was a president, and was not only killed but killed under mysterious circumstances ensures Nov. 22, 1963, will be a day that will be marked and studied for generations to come.