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Hardcover The Kennedy Assassination Tapes Book

ISBN: 1400042380

ISBN13: 9781400042388

The Kennedy Assassination Tapes

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Book Overview

A major work of documentary historythe brilliantly edited and annotated transcripts, most of them never before published, of the presidential conversations of Lyndon B. Johnson regarding the Kennedy... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A Nuanced Treatment of LBJ

I've authored/edited 2 books on LBJ and I must say that I have rarely, if ever, seen a more nuanced and shrewd understanding of President Johnson and the political context in which he functioned. Few authors have an equally good understanding of the Cold War climate and its impact on politicians of the 1950s/1960s. Fewer still understand the ways in which those politicos tried to shape events, and the apparent motivations driving them. Among many other things, Max Holland shows how much the JFK assassination was a shadow over LBJ.

Excellent Resource

I wasn't sure what to expect after the Publishers Weekly Review made this volume sound redundant, or worse, exploitative. As I opened the book my heart did sink a bit when the prologue and introduction to the book gave me the feeling that author Max Holland had some serious axes to grind against previous commentators on LBJ's tapes. And yet as soon as the introduction left off saying what those previous bad writers had failed to do, and began to explain what he himself planned to do--just like a campaign stump speech--for me, the book took off. Now, nothing is going to replace the impact of hearing all these tapes oneself. But seriously now, who is going to do that? A well edited transcript, sensitive to nuance is for me the better choice. And I think Holland has an amazing ear, and he is sensitive not only to LBJ's distinctive speech but to the regional dialects of dozens of other people, from Dallas policemen to the high-cultured fluty voice of Jackie Kennedy. As a sidelight, one thing that's amazing is how, in the forty some years since the Kennedy assassination, television and mass media have almost eradicated regional accents from Americam so that we all talk more or less alike now. Not back then! No wonder standup comedians could make whole careers out of imitating the bizarre, almost 'private' accents of JFK or LBJ. The story itself, and the way it uplinked into phone conversations, is compelling, magnetizing. The witnesses seem all universally to be trying to do the best thing in a time of terrible national anguish. I was struck once again by how perceptive and genuine and giving a First Lady we had in Lady Bird Johnson, whose account of the assassination is one of the best documents of its kind in the world. No way, after reading these transcripts, do I believe that either Johnson had anything to do with a conspiracy. It just doesn't seem possible. I look forward to Holland's next book--the book to which this one ws just a side project--a "narrative history of the Warren Commission." Now we'll see in full color how history was really made--made, and made up.

Great history and great drama

Max Holland has given us a book that seems to have been interpreted (by people, I suspect, who have read the cover and not the innards) as merely transcription. Their interpretation would be that LBJ taped many of his conversations and here are the transcripts of those conversation somehow related to the assassination of his predecessor. "Why another book on the LBJ tapes?" a trade reviewer asks. The answer is: because Max Holland's book is not just a book about LBJ tapes. Mr. Holland's book is a fascinating look inside the Oval Office. This book shows us LBJ and many of those with whom he spoke on the phone with their makeup off, their hair down, and their humanity on display. I should think that this book would be gobbled up with genuine relish by students of the JFK assassination, students of LBJ, students of the American presidency, and students of complex personalities. LBJ is one of those characters most of us find impossible to summarize or put into a box. Hitler, with all his complexities, was evil. Schweitzer, imperfect like any human being, was obviously a good person. LBJ was toweringly good and stupefyingly bad, sometimes in serial fashion, often simultaneously. LBJ's complexities are on display in Mr. Holland's book. Let me note very carefully that it takes an experienced and practiced eye to understand much of what LBJ was saying on the tapes. Context is everything, and a naked LBJ transcript would baffle me and, I am sure, almost anyone. Mr. Holland has even been kind enough to point out where other LBJ tape commentators (like Michael Beschloss) have missed a subtlety here and there. Mr. Holland has given the reader context that is more than sufficient to understand what is being said and not said by LBJ and his interlocutors. A good example is on p. 118. The conversation in question took place on 11/28/63, and is between LBJ and Senator James Eastland. Eastland was a notorious segregationist and he was discussing his efforts to make assassinating a president a federal crime. Johnson replies that: "... it might set a precedent that you wouldn't want to HAVE." [emphasis by Holland] This seems cryptic until you look at Mr. Holland's footnote. He explains that this was an oblique reference to what might happen in Eastland's home state if a terrible racial crime was committed, and there were federal laws against such crimes. Annotations like this immeasurably enhance the experience of reading these transcripts. A few points: 1. I love the fact that there are plenty of footnotes and they are at the bottom of the page. I would love to force-feed a few pages of this book to all non-fiction publishers with the message that footnotes are by definition supposed to be notes at the foot of the page. How annoying is it to have to thumb to the end of a chapter or the back of the book to find the footnote? Confronted with a footnote, one always feels curious to know what additional information this footnote is

A Richly Textured Slice of History

Max Holland's book should be read by everybody with an interest in LBJ, political history in the sixties, and the JFK assassination. Holland uses LBJ telephone-tape transcipts pertaining to the JFK assassination to create a vivid internal history of the mind and actions of LBJ from November 1963 until 1967. An epilogue, serving as coda to a grand symphony of material, takes the reader into LBJ's own memoir of 1971. Although a book structured around transcripts might well put readers quickly to sleep, Holland has elevated the aesthetic punch of this form by virtue of deeply intelligent sections of his own prose which give the background of particular conversations, which broaden the historical framework of the dialogue, and which tie together the entire set of transcipts into a profoundly coherent and pungent tale. And it has its moments of deep poignance as well, especially around Jacqueline Kennedy, when we get to feel LBJ's strong regard for other people at the same time as we see his ingrained flaws when dealing with people while in the public eye. Holland takes us from Dealey Plaza to Parkland Hospital and then onto Air Force One. We end up in the White House and inside LBJ's head. It's an amazing account with an incessant narrative drive, aided by sensibility-expanding footnotes at the bottom of the text pages where we can fold them into the story without grappling with back-of-the book interruptions, and accelerated by the feeling of immediate history registering in our awareness. I've never seen an internal history with such a compelling grip on the reader, with such a magnetic pull to continue the act of reading. The conversations treated deal with the assassination, the transition to power, Jackie Kennedy's grief, the formation of the Warren commission, Hoover's FBI, the work of the Commission, the Garrison investigation, the Clark forensics panel, and, throughout, LBJ's bete noir Bobby Kennedy. A good feel for the political exigencies capturing LBJ's options emanates from the pages. Holland has produced also a number of correctives to previous books by force of his painstaking research and interpretive savvy. In a gracious manner, he exfoliates some important errors of textual judgment by Michael Beschloss in TAKING CHARGE and Jeff Shesol in MUTUAL CONTEMPT which have led to significant inaccurate conclusions about the detailed history. Also by virtue of close reading and pin-point documentation, Holland dispels most of the myths fueling conspiracy theories about LBJ, the Warren panel, Gerald Ford, Richard Russell, Hale Boggs, Allan Dulles, and John McCloy. Nothing crushes nonsense like the truth and Holland has a bear-hug on it. If you want to climb into a particular place and time, and want to experience the perceptions and vagaries of LBJ and his milieu about these specific events, Holland's masterful book is the book to read.

THE 'LBJ-LED CONSPIRACY' - THE FINAL TRUTH

Max Holland's latest book is by far the most lucid and compelling account of the role President Johnson played in the investigation of JFK's assassination. Holland's previous work has been highly acclaimed.He first established his credentials as a JFK assasination expert through his painstaking research into how conspiracy theorists had misled the public about the role the CIA and other intelligence agencies played in the Dallas tragedy.He was also one of the first researchers to provide evidence which established that a Soviet disinformation campaign had been responsible in creating many myths about alleged US Government involvement in the death of JFK.Holland's research concerning Soviet efforts in the dissemination of false information about CIA involvement in the assassination is bolstered by Christopher Andrew's 'The Sword and the Shield - The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB' which establishes the nature of KGB disinformation techniques in the USA during the 1960s and 1970s. Holland's new book is no less valuable for the unique expertise he brings to the subject.Correctly, he criticises Beschloss and Shesol for misinterpreting the tapes.And Holland, unlike Beschloss, puts the assassination-related conversations all in one volume together with his extensive added commentary.The result is a clearer understanding of what transpired when LBJ became embroiled in the conspiracy controversy and the related Warren investigation.
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