Case Closed — Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK by Gerald Posner is the definitive book on the JFK assassination. Case Closed is duly named as an authoritative and definitive treatise on the subject. The book is well investigated, well written, and thoroughly convincing because of the meticulous research and persuasive, logical narrative of the accomplished author Gerald Posner, a former Wall Street lawyer. Instructive graphs and photos adroitly illustrate the narrative. Posner's book is simply magnificently written, from the very beginning to the end. After interviewing hundreds of witnesses, including numerous experts and even published authors of JFK assassination conspiracy books, and citing extensively the Warren Commission Report and other primary government documents, Posner draws a persuasive argument that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole assassin of JFK. Oswald was a committed Marxist, as well as a lonely, disturbed individual with the political motivation and growing militant hostility to commit the heinous crime. Posner proves beyond a reasonable doubt Oswald was indeed fully competent and capable of carrying out the assassination, alone and unaided by anyone.
Despite erroneous statements to the contrary, Oswald was a qualified U.S. Marine (rifle) marksman; Oswald worked at the Texas Book Depository (TBD), chose, and was in an excellent location for the shooting at the sixth floor, easternmost window of the TBD, in the veritable sniper's nest he easily constructed with book boxes — and left his fingerprints on them; Oswald was seen at this window by several witnesses, including Howard Brennan, and it was Brennan's account that was used in the "mysterious" radio description of the suspect aired shortly after the assassination; Oswald's rifle was the same one he was photographed with by Marina Oswald, and the very same rifle found on the sixth floor with the three spent cartridges at the sniper's nest; Oswald had ample time (15 seconds available) to fire the three shots with his effective, bolt-action, 4x telescopic sight, Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, shots which were anything but difficult; Oswald also had plenty of time to exit the TBD, and, in fact, he directed Robert MacNeil of NBC News (who thereby lost a tremendous scoop not knowing he was face to face with the assassin) to a nearby public telephone, as Oswald exited right out of the front entrance!
As with Oswald — Posner, researched the events immediately preceding the shooting, the psychological state of mind, and motivations of Jack Ruby, by interviewing credible witnesses, family, and studying reliable sources. Ruby, like Oswald, was a maladjusted and disturbed individual, who was obsessively and tremendously upset at the killing of the U.S. President. In a matter of minutes, the opportunity presented itself for Ruby to avenge his idol, JFK, and obtain the celebrity status he craved, sought after, but eluded him all his life. (photo, left) I must admit that I only became convinced of this part of the puzzle, concerning Ruby's motivation, after reading and reviewing the evidence in the appropriate chapters of Posner's book. I had always believed the shooting of Oswald, so soon after the JFK assassination, had to be proof of a conspiracy to silence Oswald. But I now believe Posner is correct about Ruby, and this book is largely concordant with all the facts, as known today and the most recent medical and ballistic evidence available.
Using the testimony of credible witnesses and the more advanced technology of the early 1990s in ballistics used in conjunction with the photographic evidence and timing of the Zapruder film, Posner reconstructs and rebuts the objections to the trajectory and impact of the second shot, dubbed with derision "the magic bullet theory," and the final, lethal, third shot, as well as every argument posed against Oswald being the single gunman. (photo, right) He debunks every theory posed by the most avid conspiracy theorists. Posner demonstrates no one has provided proof linking Oswald to the mob or the CIA, although the FBI could have done, perhaps, a better job of surveillance of someone like Oswald, who had been a defector to the Soviet Union and continued to promulgate communist, pro-Castro propaganda after his return to the U.S. Other than the most cursory surveillance by the FBI, there was no link between the CIA or the FBI to Oswald.
This 600-page tome is so well documented and logically argued that after careful reading and study, as I have done, even some of the most persistent conspiracy theorists will consider the evidence and arrive at similar conclusions. The fact, as argued in this book and worth repeating, is that Oswald was the sole assassin, and after all these years and thousands of tendentious conspiracy books, no credible evidence has been unearthed as proof of a conspiracy, either by the CIA, the mafia, LBJ, anti-Castro Cubans, or even the KGB.
Nevertheless, since the publication of this book, evidence has come to light that Fidel Castro may have had foreknowledge of the possible assassination attempt from Oswald's visit and outburst at the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City, while unsuccessfully attempting to obtain a visa in October 1963. In the intelligence literature there is also documentation of the remarks Fidel Castro made to Jack Childs, the trusted envoy of the American Communist Party and confidant of the Kremlin leadership, who was, in fact, an FBI double agent (information to which Posner may not have been privy), and most recently, the startling revelations of Cuba's top secret intelligence defector, Florentino Aspillaga, that Fidel had definite prior knowledge of the assassination attempt by Oswald, as evinced by his unusual order of directing the antennae of his secret intelligence listening post to be aimed toward Texas on the day of the assassination, rather than to CIA communications. I have written more extensively about this in my article, "Cuban Espionage — the Saga of Florentino Aspillaga," which is actually an extended review and essay based on Brian Latell's book, Castro's Secrets — The CIA and Cuba's Intelligence Machine (2012).
Many of the ideas for conspiracy theories stemmed from the hysteria created by the delusional and flamboyant New Orleans District Attorney, Jim Garrison, who led an infamous crusade, ostensibly to uncover multiple JFK assassination conspiracies, destroying the lives of many innocent people in the process, and whose fantasies and falsehoods gave origins to many fabricated leads in the assassination investigation. Nevertheless some of the arguments for conspiracy that have been put forth are valid and deserve rebuttals. For instance, it has been contended that Oswald's paraffin tests after his capture were inconclusive or demonstrated he did not fire his famous Mannliche-Carcano rifle. (photo, left) The fact is the FBI has shown these test to be absolutely unreliable and should not be used in crime investigations. Moreover, all the bullet fragments came from Oswald's rifle and they also matched the fragment found after the attempted assassination of Major General Edwin Walker several weeks before. As to the JFK assassination at Dealey Plaza and the killing of police officer J.D. Tippit in the street a few blocks from the Texas theater where the suspect was arrested — Oswald was identified as the culprit by witnesses on both sites, including at the TBD sixth floor window immediately before and during the shooting. As to the alleged hundreds of witnesses who died under mysterious circumstances, Posner shows the assertion is bogus, identifying each one of the deceased and listing the circumstances of their mostly natural and/or explained deaths.
Be that as it may, as I have stated elsewhere, everyone has his/her own opinion about the JFK assassination, particularly whether or not Oswald acted alone or was manipulated by others in a terrible conspiracy. Some citizens believe Oswald was a patsy and that multiple gunmen were involved in such a conspiracy, and that the Warren Commission was a smoke screen. There is no evidence and no longer cause for such speculations. Few have read the findings of the Warren Commission, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), or this authoritative book, preferring instead to believe in conspiracies and watch tendentious documentaries or fictitious movies, such as Oliver Stone's JFK. Politics play a large role in formulating the opinions of conspiracy buffs and pointing fingers at the alleged culprits. Some citizens have actually read books, books that support their view,and they will read nothing else that could change their perspective. Others have formed opinions, informed or not, and have taken firm stands from which they will not be swayed; and they will not be fooled!
To some degree this intransigency is understandable. (photo, right) Given the unusual circumstances of the JFK assassination and the subsequent killing of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby, a reasonable person could conclude that a conspiracy must have taken place with Ruby shooting Oswald to silent the assassin. For many years, I believed that the Soviet KGB must have played a role because of Oswald's communist ideology and defection to the Soviet Union. It was inconceivable to me that Oswald, being a Marine stationed in Japan on a radar base where the U2 plane was stationed, would not have been recruited by the KGB or GRU (Soviet military intelligence). After reading Edward J. Epstein's book, Legend — The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald (1978), I was even more convinced that I was on the right track. Nevertheless, with the revelations of the KGB defector, Vasili Mitrokhin (The Sword and the Shield — The Mitrokhin Archives and the Secret History of the KGB; 1999) and the definite and unquestionable vindication of Yuri Nosenko as a genuine Soviet defector from the Mitrokhin archive and other sources, I had to admit that my previous suppositions were wrong and that the Soviets and the KGB had actually nothing to do with the assassination.
But then, I had other suspects, and my second theory flourished — namely that the mafia had turned the guns on JFK after their failure to assassinate Fidel Castro. The CIA and the FBI were asleep at the wheel. I thought that the link was Carlo Marcello, Sam Giancana, and most certainly Santo Trafficante. The mob hated the Kennedy brothers for their "betrayal" and subsequent legal persecution, even when the mob was cooperating with Robert Kennedy and the CIA attempting to kill Castro, while Fidel had allowed Trafficante to take his money from the Havana casinos out of Cuba. Fleeing to the U.S. with his money allowed Trafficante to become the mob boss in Tampa. But, I could find no credible evidence of Oswald's link to the mob. I still remain suspicious of Jack Ruby. Reading all of Epstein's books and finally Gerald Posner's Case Closed, settled any lingering doubts about Lee Harvey Oswald being the sole assassin and any evidence of a conspiracy. I believe the Warren Commission (1964) set out to avoid World War III at almost any price; but as it turned out, their conclusions were largely correct. The House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA; 1976) could not rule out a conspiracy simply because erroneous conclusions about the acoustics at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, given the then available state of knowledge, and because they were reluctant to reject several of the witnesses testimonials, which have now been shown by Posner to be incorrect or falsely obtained at the previous instigation of, or indoctrination by, Jim Garrison. New technology has also settled the problem of the acoustics as shown in Case Closed.
The final revelations, as I have indicated previously, pertain to Fidel Castro's prior knowledge. The fact that Fidel Castro did not warn JFK about the possible assassination attempt by Oswald can be understood from the fact Castro was aware that despite the Kennedy/Khrushchev understanding and alleged "warming of relations" between the super powers, JFK and his brother Robert, were still proceeding with plans to, and insisting that the CIA, assassinate Castro, as revealed by Epstein in The JFK Assassination Diary (2013) and Professor Brian Latell's aforementioned book. (See my full review of Latell's book)
A second and refreshing look at Case Closed — Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK by Gerald Posner (1993) on the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination may modify the views of those with a more open perspective. It certainly modified mine. In the view of the eminent historian William Manchester, as quoted by Gerald Posner:
"Those who desperately want to believe that President Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy have my sympathy. I share their yearning. To employ what may seem an odd metaphor, there is an esthetic principle here. If you put six million dead Jews on one side of a scale and on the other side put the Nazi regime — the greatest gang of criminals ever to seize control of a modern state — you have a rough balance: greatest crime, greatest criminals.
"But if you put the murdered President of the United States on one side of a scale and that wretched waif Oswald on the other side, it doesn't balance. You want to add something weightier to Oswald. It would invest the President 's death with meaning, endowing him with martyrdom. He would have died for something.
"A conspiracy would, of course, do the job nicely. Unfortunately, there is no evidence whatever that there was one."
In conclusion, if you want to know the facts and reach the unvarnished truth, get this informative and enthralling book, and read it! I highly recommend it to both historians and aficionados without reservations.
Written by Dr. Miguel Faria
Dr. Miguel Faria is a medical historian and an Associate Editor in Chief and World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International (SNI). He is the author of Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995), Cuba in Revolution — Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002), and numerous articles on political history, including "Stalin's Mysterious Death" (2011); "Stalin, Communists and Fatal Statistics" (2011); "the Political Spectrum — From the Extreme Right and Anarchism to the Extreme Left and Communism" (2011); "America, guns and Freedom" (2012); etc., all posted and available at his website haciendapublishing.com
Copyright ©2013 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.
Case Closed — Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK by Gerald Posner, 1993, Random House, New York, NY, 605 pages, including illustrations, notes, appendices, index.
The photographs used to illustrate this book review came from a variety of sources and do not necessarily appear in Posner's Case Closed. An unillustrated version of this book review also appears on Amazon.com.