JFK, Dallas & Oswald’s other target

The other day, just to prove he is human like the rest of us, the estimable John
Rentoul posted what looked suspiciously like an incorrect QTWTAIN (Question To
Which The Answer Is No):

The reason it caught my eye is that I’ve spent the past few weeks slogging  through Vincent Bugliosi’s 1600-word door-stopper, “Reclaiming History”, published six years ago and generally regarded as the last word on the JFK assassination. (His emphatic verdict: Lee Harvey Oswald did it.) Early on – in a footnote on page 59, to be precise – Bugliosi does indeed address the question of Kennedy’s brace, quoting two authoritative sources to the effect that it may well have caused his death since it restricted his movement and made him an easy target for Oswald’s third and fatal shot.

If you’re interested in the Oswald case, Bugliosi is essential reading, even if he gives even the wildest conspiracy theorists such an extended pummelling that you almost feel sorry for them.  Gerald Posner’s “Case Closed” – published two decades ago – had already amassed overwhelming evidence that Oswald was indeed the lone gunman. Bugliosi goes over the detail even more thoroughly (some might say obsessively) and, as a sign of his even-handedness, gives Posner a few side-swipes for occasionally, in his view, tweaking the facts.

But one figure on whom both men are in agreement is Major General Edwin Walker. Who? I’d never even heard of him until I read Posner, yet you could argue he is one
of the most significant figures in the entire saga. As far as I recall, though, he is
one character who doesn’t get his fifteen minutes of fame in Oliver Stone’s “JFK”, a film that threw just about every rumour and theory into the pot. Smithsonian Magazine takes up the story:

Seven months before Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy, he took his Mannlicher-Carcano rifle to Major General Edwin Walker‘s house, stood by the fence, aimed towards the window, and shot at him. Walker was a stark anti-communist voice and an increasingly strident critic of the Kennedy’s, whose strong political stances had him pushed out of the army in 1961… On April 10, 1963, Oswald left his wife a note and made for Walker’s house. He took aim, ready to carry out his thoroughly researched plan.

But he missed – just.  We’ll probably be hearing more from Bugliosi in the next few weeks – the forthcoming  film, “Parkland”, is based on “Four Days in November”, the book-within-a-book which chronicles the assassination in minute-by-minute detail in the first 320 pages of “Reclaiming History”.

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Chief theatre critic for The Times. Twitter: CliveDavisUK Facebook: www.facebook.com/clive.davis.10 Instagram: clivephotos
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