"Four Days in November:
The Assassination of
President John F. Kennedy"
(Reviewed by Mary Whipple JUL 4, 2008)
“You know you’ve killed the president, Fritz says bluntly. This is a very serious charge.”
“No, I haven’t killed the president,” Oswald responds dryly.
“He is dead,” the captain says.
“Yeah, well, people will forget that in a few days and there will be another president,” Oswald replies, as if the day’s events mean nothing.
When Vincent Bugliosi wrote Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, published in May, 2007, the predecessor of the book being reviewed here, it was widely regarded by scholars as his magnum opus, a toweringmasterpiece which took twenty years and 1648 pages to write. Devoting almost as many pages to conspiracy theories as to the facts of the assassination, Bugliosi ranged wide to include miniscule details, even when those details later proved irrelevant to his conclusions. Achieving what many experts consider the “final word” on the Kennedy assassination, Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History is a carefully written reconstruction and exhaustive study of the assassination, fleshed out by eye-witness accounts and interviews with those involved, however peripherally.
In this new edition about the assassination, drawn from Reclaiming History, Bugliosi has now winnowed the original manuscript to approximately 500 pages, concentrating on the facts of the assassination itself and eliminating nearly all the material used by the conspiracy theorists because he has essentially disproved the conspiracy idea. He includes seventy-nine photographs and drawings to make scenes come vibrantly to life.
The resulting achievement is stunning, an intensely readable and compelling work of scholarship which should eliminate, once and for all, the idea that there was more than one gunman. The photographs of the shooting, broken down into tiny fractions of a second, the reconstruction and drawings of the wounds of President Kennedy and Governor Connolly, fingerprint evidence in the “sniper’s nest” at the Book Depository, extensive photographs of the grassy knoll at the time of the shooting, and accounts from many eye-witnesses provide weighty, seemingly incontrovertible, evidence that Oswald acted alone.
Bugliosi, who prosecuted Charles Manson in the Tate-LaBianca trial and then went on to write Helter Skelter about that trial, is an accomplished writer who shares with the reader the kinds of details that he, as a prosecutor, finds to be compelling evidence. At the same time, he is a painstaking recreator of scenes and observer of human nature. His intuitive sense of how people behave gives him an understanding their psychology and, at times, motivations, all of which humanize this account.
Focusing on Lee Harvey Oswald and his dysfunctional family, the Dallas police and press, Jack Ruby and the dark underbelly of society which he represents in Dallas, and the Kennedy family as it must come to grips not only with the loss of the President but with the loss of a much loved family member, Bugliosi provides an intimate and unforgettable look at a national tragedy which, in his hands, is transformed into a moving series of personal tragedies. Readers who begin this book will be as compelled to keep reading, as details unfold, as all of us who lived through these events were during that terrible long weekend in November, 1963, when we remained glued to our TV sets around the clock, and the entire country shut down.Bugliosi’s total dedication to providing every relevant detail, his ability to convey the atmosphere and understandable confusion following the shooting, his sensitivity to the feelings of the innocent people and families who were permanently scarred by these events, and his honesty in recreating events without trying to make the facts “fit” any agenda, make this book a great accomplishment of historical research. Certain to be honored with many awards in the coming months, Four Days in November endows terrible events with the respect—and finality--they deserve.
- Amazon readers rating: from 87 reviews
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (1974; reprinted 1994)
- Till Death Us Do Part: A True Murder Mystery (1978)
- And the Sea Will Tell (1991)
- Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away with Murder (1996)
- No Island of Sanity: Paula Jones v. Bill Clinton: The Supreme Court on Trial (1998)
- The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President (2001)
- Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (2007)
- Four Days in November: The Assissination of President John F. Kennedy (2008) (Released as Parkland in 2013)
- The Procescution of George W. Bush for Murder (2008)
Movies from books:
- Helter Skelter (1976)
- And the Sea Will Tell (1991)
- Till Death Us Do Part (1992)
- Helter Skelter (2004)
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- Wikipedia page for Vincent Bugliosi
- Democracy Now interview with Vincent Bugliosi (2008)
- The Trial of Charles Manson (with Vincent Bugliosi's closing)
- Official website for Reclaiming History and Four Days in November
- Salon.com review of Reclaiming History
- The New York Times review of Reclaiming History
- Official website for The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder
- Huffington Post article on The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder
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About the Author:
Vincent Bugliosi graduated from University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida and received his law degree from UCLA in 1964. In his career at the L.A. County District Attorney’s office, he successfully prosecuted 105 out of 106 felony jury trials, including 21 murder convictions without a single loss. His most famous trial, the Charles Manson case, became the basis of his classic, Helter Skelter, the biggest selling true-crime book in publishing history.
Bugliosi’s excellence as a trial lawyer is best captured in the judgment of his peers. “Bugliosi is as good a prosecutor as there ever was,” Alan Dershowitz says. F. Lee Bailey calls Bugliosi “the quintessential prosecutor.”
He lives with wife of many years in Los Angeles, California.