Another review of ASSASSINATION SCIENCE authored by Rikky Rooksby for THE DEALEY PLAZA ECHO appeared on its web site and in its March 1998 issue._______________________________________________________________________
I had seen this on a recent JFK-Lancer booklist but little dreamed that I would find it sitting on the shelves at Blackwell's in Oxford! The briefest flick through the pages was enough to indicate that this is essential reading for anyone interested in the assassination and that it may have a crucial influence on the final demolition of the lone gunman/official version of what happened in Dealey Plaza on 22nd November 1963.
Assassination science is a collection of essays, letters and documents covering a wide range of topics relating to the case and some of the media controversies surrounding it in the early 1990's. The title is significant. By using the word 'science' the editor is asserting for the benefit of the sceptics that the evidence contained herein cannot be dismissed with an impatient wave of the hand and the ritual intoning of the word 'buff'.
This purports to be science and in our culture, science is still seen as the best guarantor of the truth (or falsity) of a claim. Whether this is true or not is beside the point. As a rhetorical strategy, this is a provocative and timely move. The style of the book lives up to its title. This is a more academic, more dryly written book than many in assassination literature. James Fetzer is a professor at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
The arguments are closely argued and dense with precise detail. The whole feel of the collection is unlike that of most of the assassination books you will have read. I think this is one of its strongest features. Sceptics are going to have a hard time with this. The dry quality may not make it the easiest read, but the material is sensational enough, so presenting such material as coolly as possible is a good way of handling things and I think more likely to persuade the uncommitted than the bullish, often over-heated writing of others.
Part II presents essays by Fetzer, Dr Charles Crenshaw, Brad Kizzia and Dr. David Mantik that deal with the JAMA controversy, the general issue of how the American media has handled the case in recent years, character assassination of witnesses and critics of the official version and the faked X-rays.
Part 2 reports on the press conference of 18th November 1993 through the comments of some of its participants, including Dr. Robert B. Livingstone and Fetzer's correspondence with the New York Times about Gerald Posner's Case Closed.
Part III is entitled Pursuit of Justice in a Democracy and details letters from Fetzer to US Attorney General Janet Reno and replies from Mary C. Spearing (US Department of Justice), Robert McNamara (former Secretary of Defense), President Bill Clinton and the Assassinations Records Review Board. With the passing of time, some of this material will probably seem less relevant since it deals with the secondary issue of various conflicts between different parties. I do, however, sympathise with the frustration of those involved.
The most important section is Part IV: The Zapruder Film: Seeing but not believing. This features five essays on the Zapruder Film by Jack White, Dr Mike Pincher, Roy Schaeffer, Ron Hepler, Chuck Marler and Dr. David Mantik. I know of no better discussion of the film than this chunk of 140 pages, which constitutes a superb critique of the film's authenticity - or lack of it. If you have read Livingstone's Killing Kennedy, this will further persuade you of the unreliability of the film. To Livingstone and Weatherly's remarks, the writers here amass further indications of tampering with the film. However, because of the style of presentation, this material is likely to have more effect in persuading people of the truth of these claims. The sceptic might find it easy to dismiss the critique of the Zapruder Film in a book like Killing Kennedy because of the book's style of presentation. Not so with this.
This might just be the lasting contribution of Assassination Science - which it finally makes the notion of the Zapruder Film as being unreliable (and tantamount in itself to evidence of a conspiracy) accepted in wider circles. Oliver Stone's film JFK was the apotheosis of the use of the Zapruder Film as key evidence proving conspiracy because it appeared to show Kennedy shot from the front (the 'headsnap'). It is ironic that we may now be approaching a time when it will be widely accepted that the Zapruder Film is key evidence because is does not show us what really happened when in fact it ought to.
The collection is rounded off by a theoretical essay called Assassination Science and the Language of Proof by Fetzer, an essay by Dr. Roland White and an appendix of 14 documents and pictures including a CIA advertisement for photographers! In true academic style the book even has an index and notes on contributors. There are diagrams and black-and-white illustrations throughout.
This is a 'must have' Assassination Science - don't leave home without it!