WALT BROWN, (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1995), x + 435 pp. $26.00 cloth (ISBN 0-7867-0238-9).
Most Kennedy assassination buffs will be happy to learn that the list of books treating the event and questioning the official explanation continues to grow. Despite the efforts of Gerald Posner to "close the case,"(1) the conspiracists continue to posit theories that range from the frightening to the frivolous. Unfortunately, it appears as if his work apparently was neither complete enough nor sufficiently convincing to foreclose further conjecture. As a result, among others, recently Walt Brown and Harrison Edward Livingston have attempted to fill the perceived gap. Sadly, however, neither has come close to being successful.
Although almost immediately after the tragedy, Thomas Buchanan had charged complicity by the Dallas police; his work,(2) however, was tarnished by the preposterous suggestion that, in addition to Oswald, there was another gunman involved, Jack Ruby. Quite understandably, few followed up on his thesis. Brown, a veteran Kennedy assassination investigator and adjunct professor of history at Ramapo College in New Jersey,(3) thus propounds the almost novel idea of police intrigue, which he calls "Blue Death." Although he is careful to emphasize that his evidence is "circumstantial,"(4) he nevertheless, offers new grounds for conjecture. It is hard to fathom why "Blue Death" was not chosen for the book title as opposed to the almost generic "Treachery in Dallas" which offers little. Whatever the name, it is unfortunate that the work is devalued by sloppy writing and research, selective usage of sources, attempts at sensationalism, and other stylistic eccentricities which severely devalue an otherwise gallant effort.
The following half paragraph illustrates many of the problems with the Brown book.
In his posthumously (for good reason) published work, Brennan told that
after his March 1964 appearance before the commission [sic], his good friend
Earl Warren asked him if he would like to be introduced to Jackie Kennedy.
There is a term for stories like that, and you wouldn't want to step in it
barefoot (p. 43).
Earlier in the chapter, in an endnote, Brown described the Brennan work, Eyewitness to History,(5) as full of "so much nonsensical embellishment that the book would better be titled I. Witless to History" (p. 401, note 52). Unfortunately, he includes no substantiating material to support his witticism. And, he compounds the oversight by using the quoted passage as part of an attempt to discredit Case Closed; here again, however, he falls to provide any citation [and in this instance he even neglects to note the section he faults]. For the record, Posner includes Brennan in a section treating the stories of those who were "The Eyewitnesses." Among others, Jean Hill's highly questionable stories are also recounted.(6)
In Treachery, Brown seems to have abandoned the historical sense which he demonstrated with such mastery in his study of John Adams(7); absent is an understanding of the evolution of life in late twentieth-century America...