The Best Books On The John F. Kennedy Assassination

The Books I Picked & Why

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters

By James W. Douglass

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters

Why this book?

Written in a deeply personal, even spiritual manner that incorporates a vast amount of research, this book moved Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to visit the assassination site in Dallas for the first time more than four decades after the tragedy. Douglass particularly investigates Lee Harvey Oswald’s involvement with American intelligence agencies and writes in a highly readable style that appeals to both average readers and researchers. He provides perspective on not just how Kennedy was killed, but why, as well as why the assassination is important to continue to research to this day.


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On the Trail of the Assassins: My Investigation and Prosecution of the Murder of President Kennedy

By Jim Garrison

On the Trail of the Assassins: My Investigation and Prosecution of the Murder of President Kennedy

Why this book?

The late New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison pursued the only criminal case in this controversy that has tried someone for conspiracy to murder Kennedy in court. He faced death threats, prosecution, infiltration, dirty tricks, and more in the late 1960s. He details what he went through and why he mostly blamed U.S. intelligence officials and agents for what he called a “coup d’etat.” His book was a major basis for director Oliver Stone’s 1991 film, JFK, in which Garrison played a minor role as Justice Earl Warren.


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Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy

By Jim Marrs

Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy

Why this book?

A veteran Texas journalist who started teaching a course on the assassination at UT-Arlington in 1976, Marrs saw his comprehensive work published a year after Garrison’s book. Stone also used Marrs’ book as a prime source for his movie. Unlike Garrison, Marrs steered clear of pinning the assassination on mostly one group, covering the alleged roles of organized crime, anti-Castro Cubans, the military-industrial complex, oilmen, bankers, political opponents, and more. Some 25 major publishers turn down Marrs’ manuscript, which became a best-seller, before Carroll & Graf accepted it. The work was one of the first to tie together the various alleged conspiratorial groups.


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Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years

By David Talbot

Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years

Why this book?

The founder of pioneering web magazine Salon, Talbot covers fresh ground in this book, documenting how Robert Kennedy secretly searched for the truth behind his brother’s murder before he was assassinated himself in 1968. Based on some 150 interviews with Kennedy relatives and administration insiders, the book strikes a good balance between presenting facts and writing in an interesting style that brings to life the political struggles of that turbulent period. Robert Kennedy suspected not only the CIA, but organized crime and anti-Castro Cuban exiles who supposedly worked together. Talbot’s work does an excellent job of showing the links and explaining why some of the same sources might have conspired against RFK.


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Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery

By Norman Mailer

Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery

Why this book?

There are numerous books that seek to prove Oswald was the lone assassin, and Mailer’s is probably the most open-minded and convincing one. Rather than descend into name-calling against authors of more conspiratorial works, Mailer sticks to the topic of Oswald’s mysterious time in Russia. Based on interviews with former acquaintances and research gathered from Russia, the book uncovers fresh details about Oswald’s time there. While Mailer theorized that Oswald executed Kennedy to shake up the world and cement his place in history, he leaves the door open, if just ever so slighty, to other potential gunmen in Dallas.


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