Caro’s Flawed Tale of LBJ’s Rise

Exclusive: Author Robert Caro has labored through decades of his multi-volume study of Lyndon Johnson’s life, only now reaching LBJ’s presidency in The Passage of Power. But the much-praised book misses or misrepresents many of the key events, writes Jim DiEugenio.

By Jim DiEugenio

The Mainstream Media (or MSM) has a long and ongoing romance with Robert Caro. Most authors have a tough time getting an ad campaign behind their books. Not Bob Caro. Most authors have an even tougher time getting their books reviewed in mass circulation journals. Not Bob Caro.

Most authors have an almost impossible time getting interviewed in print or broadcast media that has any real reach. Not Bob Caro. Ever since he began writing his multi-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson, Caro has had the Keys to the Kingdom as far as authors go.

President Lyndon Johnson

I can think of no other current biographer who has had the media eating out of his hand as much as Caro has. Or for as long as he has: over three decades.

I was never in the Caro fan club. In fact, I did not even read Caro’s previous three volumes on Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, Means of Ascent, and Master of the Senate. I had two general reasons for not doing so.

First, I have never been impressed by a book’s length. For instance, Peter Wyden’s book on the Bay of Pigs invasion is almost twice as long as the volume by Trumbull Higgins. But Higgins’ book is much more valuable than Wyden’s.

Second, I understand the concept that some famous men are complex and multi-faceted. But I also understand the fact that, actually, many famous men are complex, and some complex men are more worth understanding than others.

Therefore, as an historian and author, I have been quite satisfied with reading much shorter books about Lyndon Johnson, of which there are many, in order to piece together what is important about the man.

After reading all 692 pages of The Passage of Power I feel no need to believe that I was wrong in that judgment. But before addressing why this book is a serious disappointment, let us give Caro his due, for there are some good things in it.

First, Caro is a skilled and supple writer. He knows how to, as Warren Hinckle used to say, “Draw a scene in prose.” That is, give us the backdrop, etch in the characters, let us know what is at stake therein, describe the action, and then wind the scene down. But then, how to use a tag line from that scene to transition to the next. Caro uses this technique throughout the book and it keeps the flow going.

Caro’s discussion of the 1960 race for the Democratic nomination, Johnson’s choice as Vice President, and his role in John Kennedy’s subsequent winning campaign is all quite good. In fact, that part of the book, which amounts to about a hundred pages, ranks with the best I have read in that category.

It is pretty clear from this account that Johnson very likely could have had the nomination if he had not vacillated so long in getting into the race. The key would have been getting the majority of the Western state delegates.

If Johnson had done that, he would have stopped Kennedy from winning on the first ballot. And he could have easily won those delegates. The problem is that, against the predictions of his political adviser Jim Rowe, he did not send his representatives to meet with them until December of 1959. (Caro, p. 72)

By then, it was too late. Knowing the importance of those states, JFK had sent his brother Ted to tie them up months before. This was crucial, for as campaign manager Robert Kennedy was counting the votes at the convention, he told his brother Ted that their first ballot victory would come down to the last state called, namely Wyoming. (ibid, p. 107)

And Ted needed to get all of the 15 delegates to pull it off. If not, and the process went to a second ballot, they would lose the nomination. Therefore, Ted was standing with that delegation when they announced all of their votes for Kennedy.  Johnson made a huge miscalculation getting into the race too late. And he also underestimated the Kennedy organization.

Caro also does a good job in explaining why Kennedy picked Johnson as his Vice President, and why Johnson accepted the position.  Kennedy made the choice as a simple political decision.

After a meeting with a group of southern governors, Kennedy and campaign director Larry O’Brien decided that they simply could not win the fall race without Texas. And further, they had no chance at all of beating Nixon in Texas without Johnson. (ibid, p. 126)

On Johnson’s side, he figured that if Kennedy won, he as Senate Majority Leader Johnson would not be the top Democrat in town anymore and it would not be his legislative agenda he would be passing. (ibid, p. 112)

Further, Johnson was convinced that a man branded as a southerner would not win the presidency. By accepting the vice presidency, he was getting out of Texas, getting next to a northeast liberal, and raising a more national profile.

Further, Johnson had done a study which placed the odds of becoming president from the vice president’s office as much higher than gaining the office from the Senate. In fact, after Kennedy won the West Virginia primary, Johnson let it be known that he would not be averse to accepting a vice-presidential offer. (ibid., p. 116)

Johnson also communicated his willingness to House Speaker Sam Rayburn and Gov. David Lawrence of Pennsylvania. In turn, Lawrence told Kennedy that Johnson would accept the office if he offered it to him. In fact, Johnson had hinted to a New York Times reporter a week before the convention that he would accept the vice presidency if his party needed him. (ibid, p. 117)

Therefore, the morning after he won the nomination, Kennedy called Johnson at his suite and told him he would be down to talk to him in a couple of hours. Figuring what was in store, Johnson met with his closest advisers: John Connally, Bobby Baker, and Rowe. They all told him that, if it came, he should accept the offer.

If he did not, Kennedy would lose both Texas and the election. And if that happened, Johnson would be blamed. But if Kennedy won, Johnson would be in a better position to take the presidency. (ibid, pgs. 118-119)

Kennedy came down and made the offer.  Johnson said he would accept if Kennedy went to see his mentor House Speaker Sam Rayburn and he agreed. Kennedy did so. Rayburn told  Johnson to accept. (ibid, pgs. 128-29)


The problem was Robert Kennedy. RFK never liked Johnson, even when he was working as a lawyer in the Senate. Further, Kennedy was working closely with both the labor unions and the civil rights caucus at the convention. Neither group wanted Johnson as VP.

So when they heard the unwelcome news, cries of outrage got back to RFK. Bobby then went to see Johnson. When LBJ would not meet with him personally, Bobby met with his representatives. RFK said Johnson would have to endure a brutal floor fight. Therefore he might want to withdraw. The younger Kennedy visited the Johnson suite three times with this message, even after JFK had announced Johnson as his VP to the press. (ibid, p. 136)

Most commentators, including Jeff Shesol, author of the definitive book on the LBJ/RFK feud, Mutual Contempt, have concluded that Bobby was acting on his own in these visits — without the authorization of his brother. (And this was what Johnson always felt.)

Caro, after measuring the arguments for and against, agrees with Shesol that this was the case. Bobby Kennedy’s later arguments are simply not convincing in light of JFK’s actions at the time, and the testimony of other witnesses. (ibid, p. 138)

But the upshot of Bobby’s independent maneuvering to get Johnson off the ticket was significant. Up to that point, Robert Kennedy did not like Johnson. After this incident, Johnson hated Robert Kennedy.

The third aspect of this section of the book that is exemplary is Caro’s portrayal of Johnson’s success in the 1960 campaign. Johnson worked tirelessly for the election of the ticket.

Like a modern-day William Jennings Bryan, Johnson got on board a 13-car train called the “LBJ Special.” He then visited town after town after town from morning to night for weeks on end. Johnson understood his job was to win the South, especially his home state. This was not easy since Dwight Eisenhower had made a significant dent in the Democrats’ Solid South in 1956 by winning five of the 11 states of the Confederacy. (ibid, pgs. 144-45)

Further, Eisenhower had taken Texas not just in 1956 but also in ’52. There can be little doubt that without Johnson, Kennedy would have lost not just Texas, but probably three other states in the South.

At the start of the election, the Republicans thought they would take seven states in the South. Excluding Mississippi, which voted for an independent slate, the Democrats ended up winning seven states, including Texas. (ibid, p. 155)

Caro rightly concludes that Bobby Kennedy was wrong and his older brother was right. Without Johnson, Massachusetts Sen. Kennedy most likely would not have become President Kennedy.

Sketching Characters

There are some other good things in the book. Caro sketches in the Bobby Baker and Don Reynolds scandals that were in process respectively at Life magazine and in the Senate at the time of Kennedy’s murder on Nov. 22, 1963.

The Baker scandal was about a double-cross in an influence-peddling scandal, the Reynolds case was more like bribery. LBJ was indirectly involved in the former, he appeared directly involved in the latter. Both scandals seemed to disappear after Kennedy was killed.

Caro does a nice job showing how obsessed with getting good press in Texas Johnson was. He got a reporter investigating his fortune in TV stations removed from that assignment. He then got the Houston Post to supplement their negative reporting on him with more positive reporting.

But the problem with The Passage of Power is that all the above takes up about 125 pages, or less than 20 percent of the book. The vast majority of what Caro has written here seems to me quite questionable, especially in light of all the declassified documents that have become available about the Kennedy administration.

One thing that struck me was Caro’s reliance on secondary sources.  The last installment of this series, Master of the Senate, was published a decade ago. So Caro had 10 years, and much money to dig into the two million pages of declassified files made available at National Archives II.

To be frank, he didn’t make much use of them. And the materials he did use are things that are quite easy to attain today. So much so that they are on You Tube, e.g. Johnson’s phone call with Sen. Richard Russell to cajole him into joining the Warren Commission.

But beyond that, some of the books Caro chose for his information on the Kennedy administration are surprising. Are we really to believe that the celebrated author could find time to read The Kennedys by Peter Collier and David Horowitz but he couldn’t find time to read JFK: Ordeal in Africa by Richard Mahoney?

That somehow Caro thought it was important to read Seymour Hersh’s discredited The Dark Side of Camelot, but it wasn’t important to read John Newman’s milestone work, JFK and Vietnam? With these choices made, one can see why Caro’s discussion of the Kennedy administration, although longer, is no more sophisticated or nuanced than the work of Chris Matthews. [See’s [“Why Mr. Hardball Found JFK Elusive.”]

Missing JFK’s Achievements

Reading Caro, and exaggerating only slightly, one would think that President Kennedy did three things while president: oversaw the Bay of Pigs invasion, supervised the Cuban Missile Crisis, and sent troops to allow James Meredith to attend Ole Miss (a key event in the civil right struggle which Caro underplays.)

But yet, entire books  have been written about Kennedy’s wide domestic program.  The problem is, you won’t find them in Caro’s bibliography. To list just three good ones absent from his bookshelf: Promises Kept by Irving Bernstein, Battling Wall Street by Donald Gibson, and John F. Kennedy: The Promise Revisited by Paul Harper and Joann Krieg.

To use just one example of this imbalance: Caro never even bothers to explain what President Kennedy’s strategy was in regards to civil rights.  Bernstein spends two chapters explaining this subject in detail. (Bernstein, pgs. 44-117)

Kennedy understood that he could not send a civil rights bill to Congress in 1961. It would simply die in committee, pigeonholed by southern committee chairmen. Understanding this, he decided to spend his first two years going as far as he could in the use of executive orders in order to force the issue and make it high profile.

The violence at Ole Miss in 1961, where two people were shot, and many injured was a prime example. Between U.S. Marshals, the Army Engineer Corps, Army M.P.’s and the National Guard, JFK had over 2,000 troops on hand to protect Meredith. For two years, Meredith was escorted by military police to and from each class.

But this is only one example among many. I could also point out Kennedy sending in the National Guard and Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach to confront Gov. George Wallace at the University of Alabama. The point is Kennedy was waiting for a huge public moment where the South would overplay its hand and northerners would be repelled by the brutality they saw.

It happened in April 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. There, amid the arrest of 3,000 people, rabid German shepherd attack dogs, and the use of fire hoses by Police Chief Bull Connor to break up demonstrations, Kennedy decided the time had come to send a civil rights bill to Congress.

As Bernstein notes, “The Birmingham crisis was decisive in making civil rights the central domestic issue of the decade.” The sight of this ugly conflict on the nightly news was shocking to average Americans. And Kennedy wryly remarked that the black leaders there, Martin Luther King Jr. and Fred Shuttlesworth, owed a lot to Connor. (Bernstein, p. 95)

Now, in any chronicle of the civil rights movement in the years 1960-65, the siege of Birmingham looms quite large. Yet, in over 600 pages of text, Caro spends six lines on it. (Caro, p. 257)

Recall, the title of the series is “The Years of Lyndon Johnson.” Caro chose that title because he explicitly states he does not just wish to tell LBJ’s story, but to depict the temper of the times. (See pages xvi-xii) How can you do that without really dealing with Birmingham?

Ignoring MLK’s Speech

But yet, there is something missing in The Passage of Power that is even more surprising than that. Caro at least mentions, however briefly, Birmingham. He doesn’t even mention King’s great “I Have a Dream” speech and the March on Washington in August 1963.

The impact of that speech was galvanizing. And President Kennedy was the first white politician to support King’s rally in public. He then handed control over the huge demonstration to his brother Robert. (Bernstein, p. 114)

When I noted Caro had skipped this episode, I began to detect an unnatural pattern in the book. No objective historian attempting to depict the struggle to pass a Civil Rights bill in 1963-64 could possibly discount the impact of those two events in embedding the issue into the consciousness of the public, the media and the politicians in Washington D. C.

Caro does so because he wants to minimize the impact of Kennedy and King in the eventual passage of the bill. Why? Because he wants to hand the trophy to Johnson.  Which is absurd because the bill was already in Congress when King made his great speech. It had been sent up to Capitol Hill on June 19, 1963. (Bernstein, pgs. 105-07)

In a very tough fight, Kennedy had shepherded it through the Judiciary Committee.  In November, it was in the hands of the Rules Committee. That committee was helmed by the 80-year-old arch-conservative, arch-segregationist  Howard Smith of Virginia. And he was going to do everything in his power to stop the bill from coming to the floor.

In the face of those circumstances, the only way to get the bill out of Smith’s hands and to a floor vote was through a discharge petition. Which was simple. Why? Because  the Democrats had a large majority in the House. The bill eventually passed there 290-130. Caro somehow wants to give Johnson kudos for thinking up this strategy. As if that dolt Kennedy would not have realized this tactic when he got back from Dallas.

Caro’s imbalance is also clear when he describes the procedure to pass the bill in the Senate. As Bernstein notes, Kennedy always understood that the real battle would be there because of the ability of southern senators to filibuster. So he realized that he needed the votes of liberal and northern Republicans in order to defeat the filibuster through a cloture vote.

Caro wants the reader to think that only with Johnson as president could the Democrats have understood that the key to defeating the filibuster was Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois. Not so. Kennedy understood this in the summer of 1963. (Bernstein, p. 106) And Kennedy got along quite well with Dirksen. With Dirksen on board to break the filibuster, the bill passed handily by a vote of 71-29.

One will find Caro using these same rhetorical tactics with the other piece of legislation that Kennedy originated and Johnson passed. Namely the tax cut bill. Again, Caro promotes the feeling that somehow this bill had been floundering around Congress for years and Kennedy was completely lost about how to get it passed. Not true.

Kennedy sent his tax bill to Capitol Hill after he made his State of the Union address in 1963.  It was 300 pages long and took five months to write. (Bernstein, p. 157) The hearings went on for two months and 267 witnesses testified.

Because budget and finance matters originate in the House, everyone wanted to testify and everyone wanted input. But it finally came out of the Ways and Means Committee in August, and was passed by the House in late September. And unlike what Caro writes, the Republicans in the House made no effort to tie the tax bill to the civil rights bill. (Bernstein, p. 159)

The Senate Finance Committee did not open its hearings until Oct. 15, 1963. So, far from being stranded or lost in the Senate, the bill was in the middle of hearings at the time of Kennedy’s death. Kennedy expected those hearings to end at the end of November.

He was obviously not around to manipulate things in case Harry Byrd, chairman of the committee, had any problems at the conclusion of the hearings. Byrd did. He would not grant the tax-cut bill unless the budget was cut to below $100 billion, without accounting gimmicks. So Johnson did that. He then called in Byrd and told him that he could now tell his friends that he made the president do his bidding before he voted for his bill. Which Byrd did. (Caro, p. 553)

Caro presents this as Johnsonian legislative genius. Well, if you cut out almost everything Kennedy did on the bill, and imply that JFK could not figure out how to please Byrd and massage his ego, then yes you can present it as such.

MSM’s Praise

What I have just described, the passing of the tax and civil rights bill has been praised by the MSM as being the highlights of the book. But as I have noted, Caro presents a very curtailed and unbalanced picture of the passage of both. He also tries to imply that Kennedy kept Johnson isolated from all facets of the civil rights effort.  Again, this is not accurate.

When Kennedy gave his famous June 11, 1963, televised speech on the moral evils of racism, Johnson had input into it and was right in the room when he gave it. Kennedy placed Johnson in charge of the integration of government contracting. When Kennedy met with black leaders before sending his civil rights bill to Congress, Johnson was sitting right next to him. (Bernstein, p. 108)

And when Kennedy met with King after the March on Washington, Johnson was again, standing right next to the President. (See photo facing page 103 in Bernstein.)

From here, the book gets worse. One would think that if an author were presenting a history of the Kennedy years, which Caro is in large part doing, one would have to explain why Kennedy’s presidency inspired so much hope and excitement. Well, Caro doesn’t do that.

If Caro is unfair to Kennedy on the domestic side, he is worse than unfair in dealing with Kennedy’s foreign policy. There is very little background on Kennedy’s interest in the Third World during the Fifties. Like Chris Matthews, Caro does not mention Kennedy’s visit to Saigon in 1951 and his meeting with Edmund Gullion. (Richard Mahoney, JFK: Ordeal in Africa, pgs.  14-15)

In this day and age, if an author leaves that incident out then you know he has not done his homework on the man. For it was Gullion who altered Kennedy’s view of the Cold War and how it was being fought in the Third World. There is also no mention of Kennedy’s attack on Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles for contemplating the use of atomic weapons at Dien Bien Phu to bail out the French in 1954. (ibid, p. 16)

Caro devotes all of seven lines to Kennedy’s great and daring 1957 speech on the French colonial war in Algeria. (Caro, p. 32)  So it naturally follows that Caro mentions not a word about how Kennedy broke the Eisenhower/Dulles Cold War consensus after he was inaugurated in 1961. And he did so on more than one front: in Laos, Indonesia, Congo, and of course Vietnam.

By leaving all this out, there can be no closing of the circle, because by 1965, Johnson had reversed course and gone back to the Eisenhower/Dulles formula in all these places, plus the Dominican Republic. But this is a narrative arc that Caro apparently wanted to avoid even though it’s undeniably true.

How he will avoid it in the next volume escapes me, because there is no doubt that Johnson left the United States a much worse off country than the one he inherited. A country that was ripe to be taken over by the likes of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. And the rest, as they say, is history.

If there is a tragic arc from 1960-68, and there is, then that is the story line to hew to: How Johnson took a country at relative peace and great prosperity and drove it into war, economic stagflation and race riots. But you won’t find it here.

LBJ’s Descent

In the immediate aftermath of Kennedy’s death, clearly the two most important things Johnson did were to 1.) Convene his first Vietnam meeting on Nov. 24, 1963, and, a few days later, 2.) Appoint the Warren Commission. Caro spends all of two pages describing the former. (Pgs. 401-03)

For a point of comparison, when German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard visits Johnson at his ranch in Texas a month later, Caro spends four pages describing it. (Caro, pgs. 506-10) Yet nothing of enduring substance happened there. As described by other authors, most notably John Newman and James Douglass, Johnson’s first meeting on Vietnam was quite notable.

First, Ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge was in attendance. He had been summoned to Washington by President Kennedy. But Kennedy  had already made the decision to get rid of Lodge. (James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, p. 375)

The reason Kennedy wanted to get rid of the ambassador was because he did not approve of the handling of the overthrow of the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem, which had resulted in the killing of both Diem and his brother Nhu. Caro characterizes Lodge’s role in that overthrow by saying that Lodge “had not been at all opposed to the coup. . . .” (Caro, p. 401)

Understatement does not come any richer than that. For both James Douglass and John Newman demonstrate beyond question that, from the moment he arrived in Saigon, Lodge worked assiduously to get rid of Diem by any means. This went as far as having CIA station chief John Richardson removed since Richardson supported Diem (Douglass, p. 186)

But this is only the beginning of Caro’s distortion of this meeting, for the author cannot bring himself to type the words NSAM 263. This was the order issued by Kennedy in early October to begin the withdrawal of American advisers from Vietnam. A thousand men were to be removed by the end of the year with the complete withdrawal to be finished by 1965.

Caro describes some of Kennedy’s plan, but does not actually name the National Security Action Memorandum.  Further, he ascribes NSAM 263 to a report handed to Kennedy in October 1963 by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor (Caro, p. 402), as if Kennedy had just come up with this idea upon their return from Saigon.

This is nonsense on multiple grounds. First, that report was not even written by McNamara and Taylor. It was composed in Washington by presidential military aide  Victor Krulak, but under Kennedy’s supervision. And far from being presented to Kennedy by those two men, it was given to them by the President to present to him. (John Newman, JFK and Vietnam, p. 401)

Kennedy was not leaving anything to chance about his intent to withdraw from South Vietnam, for he had been planning this withdrawal for two years. In the fall of 1961 he had sent John K. Galbraith to Saigon in order to counter a report by Walt Rostow and Taylor to insert combat troops into South Vietnam. Galbraith’s report had later been delivered to McNamara. (Newman, p. 236)

And in May of 1963, the actual withdrawal of American advisers had been planned at a large meeting in Hawaii with the entire in-country team from South Vietnam in attendance. (Douglass, p. 128)

So far from being as Caro says, “tentative”, or beginning in October of 1963 with McNamara and Taylor, the withdrawal plan had been firmly decided many months before by Kennedy himself.

Further, Caro states that because of the overthrow of Diem, Kennedy may have later altered his view of the withdrawal plan. He fails to note that in reply to a press conference question of Nov. 12, which was after Diem’s overthrow, Kennedy said his goal “was to bring Americans home.” (Newman, p. 426) And there is no evidence in the record that Kennedy changed his mind on this issue prior to his death.

Caro mentions OPLAN 34A, the plan for covert operations against North Vietnam. The seed for this plan was approved by Johnson as part of NSAM 273 in late November of 1963. Caro actually calls it a “reaffirmation.” (Caro, p. 403) If what he means is a reaffirmation of Kennedy’s policies, then this is just wrong.

As John Newman noted in JFK and Vietnam, Johnson tried to characterize his signing of the NSAM in the same terms i.e. as a continuance of Kennedy’s policy. (Newman, p. 445) Newman wrote that this was “extremely misleading” because, first, Kennedy never saw the draft of the NSAM that National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy presented to Johnson.

Therefore, it is not known what he would have done with it.  But we do know that Bundy held stronger views on the war than Kennedy did. Because Bundy admitted this to Gordon Goldstein, who was to be Bundy’s co-author for his posthumously published memoir Lessons in Disaster.

Johnson’s War

It turns out that Johnson had stronger views on the war than even Bundy, because he made three modifications to NSAM 273, and all of them were escalatory. The most important change was the one in which Johnson allowed for direct U. S. Navy involvement in provocative patrols against the North.

This later resulted in the DESOTO missions in which American destroyers worked in tandem with South Vietnamese speedboats in violation of North Vietnam’s territorial waters. That operation led to the Gulf of Tonkin incident of August 1964, which Johnson used to launch the first air attacks against North Vietnam.

Johnson’s new and militant tone was apparent at his first Vietnam meeting. CIA Director John McCone actually wrote about it in his notes to the meeting. In fact, he directly contrasted Johnson’s stance with Kennedy’s. McCone wrote that Johnson was tired of Americans emphasizing social reforms and being “do-gooders.” (Newman, p. 443)

In his memoir In Retrospect, McNamara also noted the difference in the two men on Vietnam. McNamara wrote that, at this meeting, LBJ was much more forceful on winning in Vietnam because he saw it as part of the storied struggle between America and the communist forces of China and Russia. (McNamara, p. 102)

Both Bundy and McNamara agree that Kennedy, who was much more sophisticated about the Cold War, did not see Vietnam that way. But the reader of Caro is not aware of this important distinction because the author has cut out Kennedy’s 1951 visit to Saigon, his meeting with Gullion, and his protest against the Eisenhower/Dulles attempt to use atomic weapons in support of the French in 1954.

In fact, during this meeting, Johnson explicitly compared the loss of South Vietnam with the loss of China in 1949. (Caro, p. 402) This is a comparison that no one recalls Kennedy ever making. And it continued after the meeting adjourned when Bill Moyers walked into the room afterwards.

The new president said to Moyers that he intended to “stand by our word. I want ‘em to get off their butts and get out there in those jungles and whip hell out of some Communists.” (Newman, p. 445) This crucial dialogue with Moyers is not in Caro’s book. Again, no one can recall Kennedy ever talking like this about Vietnam.

Caro picks up with the Vietnam issue again about one month later. Here, Caro quotes Johnson as saying that the earlier intelligence reports he had on Vietnam had misled him into “over-optimism.” (Caro, p. 532) He now needed hard facts and not “wishful thinking.”

So Johnson sent McNamara to Vietnam to come back with the real story on what was happening there. McNamara returned and told Johnson that the situation was very disturbing, and the country may soon be neutralized or be subject to a communist takeover.

Caro reports this with no comment and goes no further with it except to say that 1.) Johnson announced the thousand man withdrawal had been completed when it had not, and 2.) Johnson continued to plan for covert operations in secret. (Caro, p. 535)  Caro never asks himself, why would McNamara announce a thousand-man withdrawal in October under Kennedy based upon intelligence reports, but then, just two month later, tell Johnson that Vietnam was in danger of falling?

The answer to this question, of course, is the theme of Newman’s book, which, apparently, Caro never consulted. Kennedy understood there was an intelligence deception going on about Vietnam.

And he was going to use the (false) rosy reports to justify his withdrawal plan, thus hoisting the Pentagon perpetrators on their own petard.  But when the military understood what Kennedy was doing, they now began to substitute and backdate more realistic reports.  (Newman, pgs. 425, 441)

Moving McNamara

When McNamara understood where Johnson was coming from, that a new sheriff was in town, he knew which reports to get. The completeness  with which Caro misses this point is shocking because it appears that Johnson knew what the real reports were all along. He was getting them through a back channel provided by his military aide Howard Burris. (Newman, p. 225)

So, while McNamara was telling Congress how well the war was proceeding, Johnson was getting a much more realistic view, namely that the Army of South Vietnam could not put a dent in the incursions by the Viet Cong. In fact, the Viet Cong attacks were growing in frequency and size.

Johnson actually encouraged Burris to provide him with this information. In other words, Johnson was fully aware of the duplicity in the reporting. When he sent McNamara to Saigon, he understood what he would get when he came back.

In other words, this was actually done more for McNamara’s sake than for Johnson’s. LBJ immediately knew where he was headed. He wanted to make sure McNamara understood that also.

But it is not accurate to say that once McNamara brought back the new and negative reports Johnson only contemplated further covert action. Within a month after getting McNamara’s new reports, the Joint Chiefs sent a proposal to the White House recommending both bombing of the North and the insertion of U.S. combat troops. (Gordon Goldstein, Lessons in Disaster, p. 108)

These were not covert actions, they were overt acts of war. And these are things Kennedy would never countenance in his presence. Less than six weeks later, the Pentagon passed another proposal to the White House for proposed action against the North. It included bombing, the mining of North Vietnamese harbors, a naval blockade, and possible use of tactical atomic weapons in case China intervened. (Ibid, Goldstein.)

Caro extends his discussion of the Vietnam issue up to an announcement made by Johnson on March 7, 1964. The Joint Chiefs made this proposal to Johnson on March 2.  So the decision by Caro not to include it in the text seems arbitrary, especially in light of the fact that this proposal would become the basis for NSAM 288, Johnson’s formal plan for waging war against the North.

In just three months, Johnson had now done what Kennedy did not do in three years: assemble full-scale battle plans to attack North Vietnam. I would think a lot more of The Passage of Power if Caro would delineate these pretty obvious distinctions.

Warren Commission

As bad as Caro is in his discussion of the crucial Vietnam issue, he is perhaps just as bad in his discussion of Johnson’s appointment of the Warren Commission. Although Caro ostensibly devotes a chapter to this subject, it’s actually less than that since he spends part of that chapter describing the layout and history of the Oval Office. In reality it’s about 10 pages.

Caro understands that Johnson’s original plan for an investigation of JFK’s death was to hold a Texas Court of Inquiry supported by the FBI. Johnson and FBI Director Hoover had talked about this, and up until Nov. 25, 1963, this was the operative plan.

But something happened on Sunday the 24th that, unbelievably, Caro leaves out of his narrative. Namely the murder of Lee Oswald by Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas Police Department, with the suspect literally surrounded by the Dallas Police. And the shooting was broadcast live on television.

This alerted certain members of the Power Elite that the image of Texas had taken a horrific beating in the last two days. In order, the President had been killed in broad daylight, a police officer had then been shot dead on a city street, and now the only suspect had been murdered live on television while in the direct custody of the police.

Texas authorities were now going to investigate what appeared to be a Wild West Show with live ammunition? Who would accept the credibility of such a verdict?

Within two hours of Oswald’s murder by Ruby, forces from outside the White House began to work on changing Johnson’s mind on the matter. Eugene Rostow, Dean of Yale Law School and brother of Walt Rostow who would be Johnson’s National Security Adviser called the White House and talked to assistant Bill Moyers.

Rostow suggested a national blue-ribbon commission to investigate the three murders in Texas. And in this call, Rostow revealed that he had already talked to Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach. (The Assassinations, edited by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, p. 7)

Although it appears that Rostow was the first person to call the White House and suggest an investigatory model like the Warren Commission, Caro doesn’t mention him. Rostow seemed to have an effect since Hoover told Walter Jenkins on Nov. 24 that in talking to Katzenbach, the Deputy AG thought a presidential commission should make a determination on the assassination and issue a report. (ibid, p. 9)

But the next morning, in a call with Hoover, Johnson still expressed displeasure with the commission idea. Then, at 10:40 a.m., nationally recognized columnist Joe Alsop called Johnson. (Caro says that Johnson called Alsop, but all one has to do is read the opening lines of the phone transcript to see it’s the other way around.)

Caro spends less than a paragraph on this call. What is worse, he only reports the conversation from Johnson’s side. The marvel of this phone call is the extraordinary persistence and use of rhetorical devices by Alsop to get LBJ to seriously consider the idea of a presidential commission.

Alsop knows just what buttons to push with Johnson to get his guard down on this issue. By the end of the call, Johnson, who previously had been vehemently opposed to the idea, is now willing to consider it. (ibid, pgs. 11-15) You would hardly get any of this from Caro’s brief review of this important conversation.

In his discussion of the recruitment of the actual Warren Commissioners, Caro leaves out another important piece of information. As the author notes, Sen. Richard Russell was reluctant to join. One of his excuses was that it would be too time consuming.

Johnson’s reply to this is remarkable. He says it won’t take any time since all Russell will be doing is evaluating a report that Hoover had already made. (Transcript of 11/29/63 call made at 8:55 p.m.) Since Johnson had been talking to Hoover regularly, he must have known that Hoover had solely focused on Oswald as his only suspect since the afternoon of the assassination.

Therefore, LBJ was asking his close friend and mentor to assist in a non-investigation of Kennedy’s assassination in which the chief investigator made up his mind the day of the shooting. Caro leaves this out. Apparently, he didn’t want to tell us that the fix was in  and his man Johnson knew about it. (Caro, p. 448)

Scaring the Chief Justice

In his conversations with Russell and Chief Justice Earl Warren, Johnson used a common technique to get both of them to serve on the Commission. It was the threat of thermonuclear war with tens of millions of Americans killed.

Why and how did Johnson come up with this? After leaving New Orleans in late September, Oswald allegedly went to Mexico City by bus. While there he supposedly visited both the Cuban and Soviet consulates in order to obtain something called an in-transit visa for Russia by way of Cuba. He was ill prepared to attain it, and did not secure the visa while there.

The night of the assassination, David Phillips’s aide, Anne Goodpasture, delivered a tape that was supposed to be Oswald speaking to a consular official to FBI agent Eldon Rudd for delivery to Hoover. (John Newman, Oswald and the CIA, p. 653, 2008 edition.)

The day of the assassination, the FBI called the CIA and found out that, while in Mexico City, Oswald had allegedly spoken to a man named Valery Kostikov, a KGB agent under foreign service cover in the Russian consulate. The CIA then added that Kostikov was in charge of KGB assassinations in the Western Hemisphere. (ibid, p. 631)

In other words, a former defector to Russia, who was working for communist causes in New Orleans, had met a KGB assassination specialist seven weeks before he supposedly killed the President. This is where Johnson found this nuclear holocaust material to use with both Russell and Warren. He actually alludes to it directly on occasion to both men. (Douglass, pgs. 83, 231) Johnson told Russell that this threat brought Warren to the brink of tears.

Caro does not explain the Oswald in Mexico City angle being the source for the nuclear holocaust threat. Neither does the author say what happened as a result of Johnson’s hanging this specter of a mushroom cloud over Warren. It intimidated Warren down to his toenails.

At the first executive session meeting of the Warren Commission, the Chief Justice came out meek as a lamb. In essence, Warren did not want to do any investigation. He wanted to rely on the FBI. He did not want to hold public hearings, he did not want to hire investigators, and he actually did not even want to call any witnesses! (Executive session meeting of 12/5/63, pgs. 1,2)

In other words, Johnson’s warning about Armageddon had effectively neutralized Warren into not wanting to investigate Kennedy’s murder.

A Fake Voice

But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is this: the evidence about Oswald in Mexico City and doing what he allegedly did at the two consulates was dubious. The voice on the tapes turned out not to be Oswald’s. But it’s still worse: Johnson knew that when he used the threat of nuclear destruction on Russell and Warren!

For Hoover called Johnson within two days of getting the tapes. Hoover had agents who questioned Oswald in Dallas listen to them and they told him the voice on the tapes was not Oswald’s. The Director then relayed that message to the new president.

The most obvious way that a false voice could have occurred on the tapes is if the plot was an internal one. Consciously or not, Johnson ignored that fact and proceeded as if the only suspects could be foreign. To say that this ploy worked does not do it justice.

In still another part of the story that Caro does not tell, Richard Russell turned out to the most honest Warren Commissioner. He perceived very soon that what was happening was a cover-up. He actually composed a letter of resignation to Johnson that he never delivered. He was so disgusted with the proceedings that he actually pursued his own private inquiry, which came to contrary conclusions than the Commission’s. Again, Caro ignores this. (Dick Russell, On the Trail of the JFK Assassins, pgs. 126-27)

All of this, using knowingly false information to instigate a cover-up about Kennedy’s death, ignoring the possibility of a domestic plot of which he had prima facie evidence of, making his friend Russell then serve as part of that cover-up, something which Russell regretted until his death, somehow this is deemed as praiseworthy by Caro. (Caro, pgs. 450-51, 600)

But for me, that’s still not the worst part. Because Warren was essentially neutered by Johnson, the man who came to dominate the Commission was former CIA Director Allen Dulles.

Dulles was the man who deceived Kennedy about the Bay of Pigs operation. When that doomed endeavor capsized, there were two investigations into it. One by the CIA, and one by the White House.

As a result of these inquiries, President Kennedy decided to fire Dulles, thereby ending the longest reign ever by a CIA Director. So the question then became: If that were the case, why would Johnson appoint Dulles to the Warren Commission? Well, Caro says Johnson didn’t really appoint him. He only did so at Robert Kennedy’s request. (Caro, p. 442)

What does the author base this startling statement on? A diary entry made by Johnson for his upcoming memoir in 1969. Now, let us recall that by 1968 Johnson was facing a ruined presidency. He could not even run for reelection since he faced certain defeat at the hands of his own party.

If he had run, he would have been trounced in the Democratic primaries by his longtime antagonist RFK. Johnson had left the Democratic Party so divided that Richard Nixon defeated Vice President Hubert Humphrey for the White House. Humphrey had lost in part because Johnson would not let him denounce the disaster of the Vietnam War until too late in the race.

Johnson was so bitter about the possibility of Bobby Kennedy becoming president that, as Robert Dallek revealed in his book Flawed Giant, Johnson wanted Nelson Rockefeller to run on the Republican side because he didn’t think Nixon could beat Kennedy.

Collapsed Presidency

Further, by this time, most of the American public knew that the Warren Commission was a flimsy cover-up designed to conceal the true circumstances of JFK’s murder. For this was after the publication of books by critics like Mark Lane, Sylvia Meagher, Harold Weisberg, and Josiah Thompson. It was also after the discoveries about Oswald in New Orleans by DA Jim Garrison.

So both the Commission that Johnson had appointed and his presidency had fallen apart. But further, in 1969, Robert Kennedy was dead. So he could not deny Johnson’s accusation. When Johnson called Sen. Russell in 1963, Russell asked him if Robert Kennedy had suggested any Commissioners. Johnson said no. (Caro, p. 445)

Most historians will tell you that when there is an inconsistency in an individual’s testimony, the witness testimony nearest to the event should be believed, especially in light of the circumstances I have listed.

Yet Caro chooses to believe the statement from five years later. But further, the fact that Caro bought into this shows his poor primary research on the Kennedy years, especially the Bay of Pigs, for one of the chief investigators into the Bay of Pigs debacle during the White House inquiry was Robert Kennedy.

Suspecting Dulles had tricked his brother into a hopeless mission, RFK went after Dulles mercilessly. He then had his father Joseph call Robert Lovett who the elder Kennedy had served with under Eisenhower on a supervisory board over the CIA.

Lovett told RFK that he and David Bruce had written a report about Dulles for Eisenhower. They concluded that Dulles had completely altered the Agency from its original intelligence-gathering mission. Dulles had made it into a rogue organization that was irresponsibly replacing foreign governments and making America into a bogeyman in the Third World.

Lovett told RFK that he, Joe Kennedy and Bruce had tried to have Dulles fired. They could not since Eisenhower was influenced  by Allen’s brother, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. All this important information is in Arthur Schlesinger’s book Robert Kennedy and His Times. (See pgs. 474-76)

That book is in Caro’s bibliography. Are we to believe that he didn’t notice it enough to make a note of it? But further, after RFK got his brother to fire Allen Dulles, he then asked Secretary of State Dean Rusk if there were any more members of he Dulles family still serving in the administration.

Rusk replied that Allen had a sister named Eleanor who worked in the State Department. RFK told him to fire her also because “He didn’t want any more of the Dulles family around.” (Leonard Mosley, Dulles, p. 473)

But yet, if one believes Caro, after finding out about Allen Dulles’s duplicity in the Bay of Pigs, and being so repulsed by it that he wanted no member of the Dulles family in the administration, we are to believe that RFK asked Johnson to appoint Dulles to investigate the suspicious death of his brother. Add to that the fact, as David Talbot notes, that Bobby first suspected that the CIA had killed JFK. (Brothers, pgs. 6-7)

To pile a howler onto all this, Caro writes that Operation Mongoose was still operative on Nov. 22, 1963, with RFK in charge. In fact, Mongoose had been disbanded after the Missile Crisis, many months before the assassination. (Morris Morley, Imperial State and Revolution, p. 151)

I could go on and on about the further shortcomings of this inflated and much overrated book. The worst thing about it is that it does not teach you more about the era Caro is describing. Because his leading character the man Caro chose to devote decades of his life to did little in these years, Caro decided to make him more attractive by diminishing those around him. (In addition to not describing the March on Washington, Caro does not even mention Malcolm X.)

That technique does not make for good history because it shortchanges us on facts. But in The Passage of Power, Caro does not seem very interested in facts. He wants to construct  a narrative first, with Johnson as the lead actor in it. Even though, in these years, he wasn’t.

With what Caro does here, I don’t look forward to the final volume. Now that I have seen him operate close up, he reminds me of the likes of Stephen Ambrose and David McCullough. That is, historians who worship success more than the truth.

Jim DiEugenio is a researcher and writer on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and other mysteries of that era.

72 comments for “Caro’s Flawed Tale of LBJ’s Rise

  1. August 10, 2012 at 21:43

    Thanks Mark for the reference to Destiny Betrayed. But please I do not want anyone to buy that book. The revised and expanded version which is really a 90% rewrite, is coming out in November.

    It is much better since it uses scores of the declassified records of the ARRB.

  2. Mark Erickson
    August 6, 2012 at 15:48

    Mr. DiEugenio: What is your evidence that in 1969, “most of the American public knew that the Warren Commission was a flimsy cover-up designed to conceal the true circumstances of JFK’s murder”?

    • August 9, 2012 at 00:41

      Its from the polls taken at that time, from 1967 onward there was a jump in the percentage who believed the JFK case was a conspiracy.

      This is sourced in more than one book, but I got mien from Paris Flammonde’s book which was published in 1969.

      • Mark Erickson
        August 9, 2012 at 17:10

        Why 1967? What happened then? I would note that believing the JFK case was a conspiracy is different than that the Warren commission was a cover-up. From what I’ve seen, the belief in a conspiracy was always rather high, even immediately after the killing. What I’ve also heard is that the Warren commission initially had the public’s support for its findings. It was only over time that the disrespect grew.

        • August 10, 2012 at 16:33

          1967 marked the publication of Mark Lane’s “Rush to Judgment,”the first of the many books that shredded the Warren Commission’s methods and conclusion.

      • Mark Erickson
        August 9, 2012 at 17:27

        I found this fascinating CIA document: I have no idea about the website, but the document looks legit.

        As to polling about conspiracy. 52% believed in a conspiracy in November 1963 and this says it went down to 46% in 1967. The more recent polling seems to be between 70% and 80%.

        • August 10, 2012 at 16:56

          Daniel Brandt’s was a very highly regarded compilation of indexed sources on the intelligence and parapolitical systems and their interlock with the government. He beganit in the mid-eighties, sending out diskettes (remember them?) to subscribers, and his services were used (uncredited) by many mainstream investigative journalists, back when that term still referred to an honorable profession. A few years ago, he launched a site called, which used google search engines but destroyed the information google used to keep track of the searches of its users. Google, or its friends, devoted overwhelming resources to hacking and otherwise disrupting Brandt’s site, and after a couple of years, last fall he finally threw in the towel and let all of his on line enterprises go by the wayside. AFAIK, namebase is no longer maintained, but its information is still htere,if no longer up to date, and is of the highest quality. His essays in the namebase newsletter, published in the early 00s, are very much worth the reading; for example, it was through the inaugural issue that I first learned of the existence and influence of Carroll Quigley, a member of the inner circle in the postwar era whom Bill Clinton highly regarded. Also, a later feature of namebase (which, alas! no longer seems to be there) was a “proximity search,” which showed in graphic form all the connections between various spooks,criminals, etc.

          Anyway, the site is reliable and indispensable; here, for example, is the reference page on the intriguer and Italian _persona non grata_ Michael Ledeen: “”.

      • Mark Erickson
        August 9, 2012 at 17:35

        It’s not that hard to dig up stuff, if unsubstantiated stuff:

        “Before it was released only 29 percent of the public, according to polling data, believed that Oswald alone was responsible; following its release a year later, in 1964, that number increased to 87 percent; two years later, in 1966, only 36 percent of Americans indicated they believed the report.”

        • August 9, 2012 at 20:15

          Mark that document you “dug up” is in Appendix B to my first book which was published about 20 years ago.

          The pattern you are discerning is what I described. After the murder of Oswald, there were many questions. It was the WC’s job to quell them and LBJ helped by scaring Warren all to Hades. The Warren Commission then did the quelling with the help of the media.

          Then after the publication of the books I mentioned in my review, plus the work of Garrison, the figures then zoomed to over 60 per cent thinking it was some kind of conspiracy. It went to ninety per cent when Stone’s film came out.

          Because of the attacks on Stone’s film and the shutting out of almost all the critics since 1993, plus the exposure given to Posner and Bugliosi, it has settled down to 75-80 per cent.

          See since about 1967 it has always been quite high.

          • Mark Erickson
            August 10, 2012 at 11:24

            “Dug up” is just an expression. I was looking for online resources. Thanks for the reply.

            PS The site has a positive, although short, review or your book.

  3. Gerry Mantel
    August 4, 2012 at 08:10

    To “Ambrose and McCullough” you can add the name “Douglas Brinkley.”

    Anyway, it was a great article from a dude who knows his stuff.

  4. Jean Perrier
    August 3, 2012 at 08:16

    Carlier, mon vieux!!

    Tu te fous de la queule des gens avec tes conneries? Tu déconnes ou quoi? Va te faire foutre! Espèce de con! Tu me fais chier, salaud! On t’a bercé trop près du mur? Va niquer ta mère, espèce de connard qui se lèche le cul chaque matin en fumant des Gauloises pour le petit-déjeuner! Essaye cette
    manoeuvre: Prends 50-60 pas en arrière. Prends plusieurs souffles profonds. Sprinte en avant à toute vitesse. Fais un triple saut périlleux en l’air et disparaîs dans ton propre cul! T’as une tête à faire sauter les plaques d’égouts! Suce ma bite, sale pute! C’est quoi la différence entre ta cravate et la queue d’un chien? La queue d’un chien cache tout le trou de balle!

    Va baiser un mammouth!!

    Ta gueule!! Imbécile!!

    [email protected]

    • Jean Perrier
      August 3, 2012 at 08:27


      Tu te fous de la GUEULE des gens avec tes conneries?

  5. August 2, 2012 at 23:51

    My personal opinion is that Lyndon Johnson, his Texas oil executive supporters Clint Murchison, Sr. and H.L. Hunt used their CIA/military connections to murder John Kennedy.

    By September 16, 1965, the Soviet KGB had concluded that Lyndon Johnson was responsible for the JFK assassination. On 12/1/66 J. Edgar Hoover sent a memo to LBJ which stated:

    “On September 16, 1965, this same source reported that the KGB Residency in New York City received instructions approximately September 16, 1965, from KGB headquarters in Moscow to develop all possible information concerning President Lyndon B. Johnson’s character, background, personal friends, family, and from which quarters he derives his support in his position as President of the United States. Our source added that in the instructions from Moscow, it was indicated that “now” the KGB was in possession of data purporting to indicate President Johnson was responsible for the assassination of the late President John F. Kennedy. KGB headquarters indicated that in view of this information, it was necessary for the Soviet Government to know the existing personal relationship between President Johnson and the Kennedy family, particularly between President Johnson and Robert and “Ted” Kennedy.”

    This memo is of blockbuster significance because it reveals what the world’s largest foreign intelligence organization had concluded who was responsible for the JFK assassination: Lyndon Johnson. Note: the Soviet press has been saying for decades that Texas oil men, LBJ’s closest backers, were behind the JFK assassination.

    Here is this critical document which the ARRB got released in the late 1990’s:

  6. August 2, 2012 at 16:04

    Thanks to Jim DiEugenio and to Consortium News for this comprehensive analysis, it’s of critical importance. As “Orwell” warned in 1984, those who control the past control the future.

    It’s tragic that these sorts of articles attract a wide variety of nonsense claims in the comments, both those who deny the crime (does anyone really believe in the Lone Gunman hoax anymore?) and those who are sloppy in their accusations (not all claims of conspiracy are true and there is a conspiracy to make fake claims of conspiracy to cover up the conspiracy).

  7. Jonathan
    August 2, 2012 at 11:07

    fantastic article. having been born in 1983, I never heard of josiah thompson’s six seconds in dallas until reading this article. thanks for the great reference. if anyone knows where to find the bruce-lovett report, could they please let me know?

    • August 2, 2012 at 16:13


      The Bruce-Lovett report is not around today.

      Schlesinger found traces of it and RFK’s notes on it at the JFK Library. And he wrote about it in his book.

  8. elmerfudzie
    July 31, 2012 at 12:24

    Shortly before JFK was murdered, Johnson told his mistress and I quote: “After tomorrow, those g***n Kennedy’s will never embarrass me again — that’s NOT a threat — that’s a promise.'” As president, he confirmed the depth of this hostility at an Oval Office gathering by handing Robert Kennedy a handful of pens, one at a time, with the instructive voice of a school-marm, as to the precise order of distribution to the signatories. During those Georgetown parties, Johnson would canvas the dinner tables expressing contradictory views and opinions with each group he chatted with. The “forked tongue” was not a political necessity, it was his pleasure. I believe he had fore knowledge of Dallas and either did nothing to prevent it or couldn’t out of powerlessness or cowardice or both. The one intelligent thing I can recall him saying was and I’m para-phrasing here: No! we can’t use the bomb!, referring to going nuclear in Viet Nam.

  9. Jym Allyn
    July 30, 2012 at 17:16

    From Douglas Adams “The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy”

    The history of warfare is similarly subdivided, although here the phases are Retribution, Anticipation, and Diplomacy.
    Retribution: I’m going to kill you because you killed my brother.
    Anticipation: I’m going to kill you because I killed your brother.
    Diplomacy: I’m going to kill my brother and then kill you on the pretext that your brother did it.

    Thank you all (and Bob as the host) for an amazing, albeit scary, discussion.

    • Frances in California
      August 1, 2012 at 16:48

      . . . and for all the fish.

  10. Terry Washington
    July 30, 2012 at 13:59

    Personally, although I’ve never read Robert Caro’s multivolume biography of LBJ( reviewed gushingly by Bill Clinton of all people), I am for one suspicious that Caro ignores evidence of Johnson’s Mob ties( see “Contract on America: The Mafia Murder Of President John F. Kennedy”, Zebra Books, 1993)!

  11. Ralph Yates
    July 30, 2012 at 08:46

    There’s a simple way to cut right through Ronald Reed’s falsely spun “hawk” history of JFK. If JFK was the hawk Reed is trying to sell then CIA would not have killed him as they did in Dealey Plaza. It’s very clear to any honest scholar, like DiEugenio, that those aggressions were the acts of the US government itself and its national defense sector. As Douglass and DiEugenio show the true interpretation of Kennedy’s actions was an unprecedented attempt to wage peace and detente in order to defuse the Cold War, which Kennedy witnessed first hand as skidding out of control towards nuclear war. Kennedy wasn’t set-up and shot in the back by CIA operative Lee Harvey Oswald because of his aggressive, hawkish policies. This is a simple matter that politically-motivated propagandists like “Ronald Reed” won’t be able to get around in order to muddy the waters. It’s amazing how many outright liars and false spin-makers there are in America motivated by the need to blame the victim in order to maintain the self-created credibility of the Kennedy-murdering status quo.

    Kennedy was killed for peace, not for war. Read Douglass.

    As for Francois:

    ” Like when the evidence shows that Lee Oswald was guilty beyond any doubt… ”

    …Ignore the troll. Anyone who still tries to push the Warren Report version of Oswald is, as Charles Drago says, either cognitively impaired or part of the conspiracy.

    • July 30, 2012 at 09:29

      LOL. It that all you can come up with ? That I am part of the conspiracy ? Beware, I may send you my CIA agents….

      • rlaing
        July 30, 2012 at 19:55

        Your ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ claim is absurd not because you are part of a CIA conspiracy yourself, but because:

        a) That standard of guilt can only be established by a trial. A trial won’t necessarily prove that standard to everyone, but the lack of a trial proves it to no-one. Uncontroversially, Oswald did not get a trial of any description.

        b) The assassination was filmed by Abraham Zapruder, and the authenticity of this film is not in question. It is possible to go on believing that Kennedy was shot from behind after viewing this film, but it is far from being an easy thing to do. Certainly, no reasonable person who has seen this film would regard the matter of Oswald’s guilt as ‘uncontroversial’.

        The question of ‘who’ actually killed Kennedy and ‘why’ he was killed are of necessity matters for speculation, because no serious attempt has ever been made to answer those questions by institutions with the power to definitively answer them.

  12. NY reporter
    July 30, 2012 at 03:50

    Robert Parry,
    You are performing a great public service by offering a platform to James DiEugenio, probably the most steadfast and trust-worthy of the “assassination buffs.” His prolific criticism is the only serious alternative to the MSM’s continuing and shameful abdication of responsibility on virtually all issues related to JFK and RFK. Put bluntly: they print lies. Unfortunately, this woeful negligence applies equally to journalists on the left, hence DiEugenio’s seemingly insensitive comment about Alexander Cockburn.

    • August 2, 2012 at 23:56

      I would not agree with that. Jim DiEugenio has not figured out that Lyndon Johnson was a key player in the JFK assassination, not just the cover up. To me, that is the essence of the JFK assassination: the Kennedy/LBJ conflict. There are a lot of very experienced, well respected JFK researchers who would agree with my points and who point the finger at Lyndon Johnson: Ed Tatro, Walt Brown, Phil Nelson, Craig Zirbel, James Fetzer, Robert Groden, the late Jack White, and myself among others. Jim Marrs is also highly suspicious of LBJ. And I think that Doug Horne and Noel Twymann are not far from saying LBJ was involved.

  13. July 29, 2012 at 22:54

    BTW, let me add one more key point.

    In the most recent scholarship on the Missile Crisis, two new things were introduced.

    First, the Soviets had given Cuba tactical nukes to fend off any amphibious invasion. Needless to say, if it were not for Kennedy, that is very likely what would have happened. For by the end of the crisis, almost everyone was going to that side, urged on by Johnson.

    Second, the contingent of nukes Nikita was sending was revealed. It consisted of all three legs of the triad: 50 long range ICBM’s, 40 medium range ICBM’s, 20 IL-28 bombers, and 11 atomic submarines.

    In other words, if deployed the Soviets could potentially explode the largest 100 cities in America. Recall, these were not A bombs, they were hydrogen bombs. Something like ten times as powerful as Hiroshima. One of them hits Washington DC, the city is gone. One of them hits Manhattan, the island is gone, including Wall Street. In other words, the whole central government and financial center of America is obliterated. And there is no way to stop it since the flight time is a matter of minutes.

    So who was being the aggressor?

    It always struck as pure and utter black propaganda that Cockburn tried to blame JFK for that. Utter nonsense.When the Politburo removed Nikita, they called it a hare brained scheme that brought the world to the edge of terror and chaos. It was Kennedy who brought the world back.

    I really despise what has happened to the left in this country. Chomsky and Cockburn were the pied pipers who led the loony left off the cliff: They were propagandists, as bad in their own way as those of the right. And now we have the liberal blogosphere which is almost indistinguishable from the MSM. You can’t talk about third parties, you had to support Obama in 2008, no 9-11, no long investigative pieces, no vote fraud etc.

    Really, what are you supposed to do or go if you want the truth?

    Thank God for Bob.

    • July 30, 2012 at 05:13

      Very interesting back-and-forth debates, here.
      DiEugenio vs. Caro, or Reed vs. DiEugenio, or even Chomsky vs. Newman.
      Those are people with great knowledge of history and figures and documents. Yet, they do not agree, and even have opposite views.
      That’s my point. In a way, it’s a matter of opinion. Even when you read dozens of history books and memoirs, it is still possible to see such president as a great man or as a failure.
      It’s a matter of point of views.
      I could even say that somehow everybody is right.
      I prefer to stay away from those “debates”.
      What I focus on is facts, clear-cut debates based upon evidence. Like in the Kennedy assassination. Like when the evidence shows that Lee Oswald was guilty beyond any doubt…

      • Pasquale DiFabrizio
        July 30, 2012 at 07:51

        If Lee Oswald was guilty beyond any doubt, Mr. Carlier, why did they find a 7.65 Mauser rifle on the sixth floor that seems to have vanished? Why was Lee Oswald saying he was a patsy in front of news cameras? Why was Lee Oswald (an FBI informant) shot by another FBI informant (Jack Ruby) while in police custody two days after he was arrested? Why did the doctor heading the autopsy, Humes, burn his original notes? Why did all of the medical staff at Parkland Hospital ER describe different wounds to the president than were described in the autopsy that took place at Bethesda Naval Hospital?

        For you to say that Lee Oswald is guity “beyond any doubt” is not only illogical but also denies reality.

        • July 30, 2012 at 08:22

          To Mister Pasquale DiFabrizio.
          You are asking me several questions. I will ask you only one : how is it possible that in 2012 you are still repeating nonsense that has been debunked long ago, and mistakes and errors and disinformation?
          I’ll tell you something. The answers to all your questions are in my book. But I don’t want to advertise my own work. So I’ll advise you to read even better books : “Case closed” (Gerald Posner), “With Malice” (Dale Myers), and “Reclaiming history” (Vincent Bugliosi). I have read all of them. Trust me, they have all the answers you need. Thanks to them, you’ll be satisfied at last. You’ll see the light. And you’ll be ashamed you had asked me those questions…

          • Pasquale DiFabrizio
            July 30, 2012 at 09:24

            You just mentioned three disinformation personalities, in my opinion.
            They are Posner, Myers, and Bugliosi.

            This is how slanted and biased Posner’s book is towards the “Lone Nut” idea. There’s an article or study that basically shows that out of the first 100 factual errors in Posner’s book, Case Closed, 78 of them, according to the author of the article, mistakenly lead the reader in the direction of the “lone nut” idea, and 22 of those errors are inconsequential. None of the first 100 factual errors in Case Closed lead towards the idea of conspiracy. That means that those errors don’t seem to be random errors at all because it seems statistically unlikely that he would make those errors randomly. For the rest of you, take a good look.
            The article/study is called “The Posner Report:A Study In Propaganda: One Hundred Errors in Gerald Posner’s Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK”
            Here’s the link to it.
            Posner, in my opinion, is not regarded as a truth seeker regarding JFK except by the mainstream media and people like Chris Mathews at MSNBC.

            Dale Myers’ disinformation is even more ridiculous to me. Look at the degree of distortion that Myers does in his computer cartoons to somehow justify the single bullet theory. For the rest of you reading this, it’s worth looking at. It will give you a clear idea of who Dale Myers is. ;)
            Below are very good analyses that will literally show you the degree of deception in Dale Myers’ JFK work. Look at how Dale Myers misplaced victims JFK and Conally. Look at the grotesque way Myers makes JFK’s upper back hunch over below the neck…looking more like a turtle than a man…to justify the single bullet theory. Does Myers look like an honest man to you regarding JFK? No

            As for Bugliosi’s work on JFK, I wouldn’t trust his work because it is just as slanted as Myers and Posner’s material as well, in my opinion.

            I think that these three men you mentioned, Posner, Myers, and Bugliosi, are not doing anyone any favors with their nonsense. What they are doing, in my opinion, is very unpatriotic…a disservice to our country. I suspect that they are being paid or somehow compensated for their work. It’s the only explanation, for me, why people like Myers, for example, would go to such deceptive lengths to try and justify the “lone nut” idea.
            Here’s a look at an analysis if Bugliosi’s trash.

            Mr. Carlier, I don’t know what your agenda is, but I’ll keep from being accusatory. Many people, like you, are lead astray by the likes of Myers and Bugliosi, in my opinion. Why should I be ashamed of asking you questions? For the rest of you, if Mr. Carlier’s best authors to throw our way regarding JFK are Myers, Posner, and Bugliosi, watch out! LOL
            I wouldn’t trust their work for a second. Like I said, they are doing a disservice to our country, in my opinion. They are not patriots at all. Patriots look out for their fellow citizens. They don’t put out propaganda and trash and try to fool their fellow citizens just so they can line their pockets. Of course, this is my opinion, but you understand me. ;)

            For the rest of you, take a good look at the analyses I posted links to above, and pay particular attention to the links on Dale Myers’ work and how disgustingly deceptive it really is. Then ask yourselves WHO should be ashamed.

          • ken murray
            July 30, 2012 at 09:37

            OMG. Carlier wrote a book. Did you do a recopy of the Warren Report? No Carlier, you should be ashamed of claiming that those books you mentioned are good books lol.Your as much an “expert” as Posner is on this subject which his book is so full of holes and errors. Come on Mr. ‘expert”. Do a debate But we know you won’t. You remind me of the French army during war time. Do an about face, retreat and then run like hell.

      • July 31, 2012 at 23:38

        I waited awhile to reply to this so that everyone could get a load of Carlier from France. Note how he makes his evaluation here. If one person says something else then they are both valued equally, and its a matter of opinion.

        This is a guy who brags about his critical thinking.

        The difference is this: I did not rely on anyone else’s views. I quoted from the newly declassified record for instance about the Jupiters in Turkey. Somehow, Carlier missed that. I quoted from the SecDef meeting of May 1963, also declassified by the ARRB. Carlier missed that also.

        This is his problem. Carlier has no respect for scholarship based on the declassified record, and does not even seem to recognize it when he reads it. Which is why he is as bad on the Kennedy and Johnson presidencies as he is on JFK’s assassination.

        BTW, I deliberately steered clear of that subject and went with it just as far as to show how bad Caro’s book was on the establishment of the WC. To not tell why LBJ did what he did, to not tell the reader what the threat of nuclear holocaust was based upon, to not reveal that he voice on the tape was not Oswald’s, and that LBJ knew that, to not reveal how this stopped Warren dead in his petrified tracks, to the point he did not even want to call any witnesses, which allowed Dulles to take control of the inquiry, and then to say that Dulles was really RFK’s pick based upon a 1969 diary entry after Johnson’s presidency and the Warren Commission had collapsed-this is not writing history. It is fulfilling a (false) narrative.

        Its another way of lying. And someone had to call him on this, with accurate annotation.

        Every time Carlier comes over here to make ignorant comments on my discussion of Hoover, Chris Matthews and now Caro he demonstrates fully why he has no following.

        • François Carlier
          August 3, 2012 at 17:06

          No following ? Well, I don’t know about that.
          Mister DiEugenio, if you really believe that I have (quote) : “no respect for scholarship based on the declassified record”, then you are mistaken.
          Yes, I claim to have learned critical thinking, which has helped me reach sane conclusions on numerous cases.
          I don’t deny that you have worked tremendously on Johnson’s presidency, or Caro’s book, or declassified documents.
          But then again, what I deem important is to identify arguments and recognize fallacies. And I think that conspiracy culture has biased your overall judgement.
          Have a nice evening.

    • August 10, 2012 at 17:04

      I’ve been out of town for over a week, so have not had access to reply, but plan to do so over this weekend. By the way, the fact that I disagree with Jim about whether Kennedy was the Prince of Peace or not does not detract from my respect for his scholarship on the Kennedy assassination. His “Destiny Betrayed,”which I read when it was first published, is still, as far as I know, the best single sympathetic treatment of the Garrison investigation, not excluding Jim Garrison’s own book.

  14. July 29, 2012 at 21:01

    Here is a good idea: please email Caro this review,

    As per not reading the first three volumes, I explained that. I have never equated length with quality. I have read other books on LBJ e.g. Dugger’s, and I think I have a good understanding of the man.ANd reading this Caro book did not contribute anything to that. As one can see I could have taught Caro a lot.

    As per Ronald Reed, look, you may want to hang onto that discredited Chomsky BS, but the declassified record is alway to be preferred over memoirs. Today there is simply no question about JFK’s withdrawing from Vietnam. In addition to NSAM 263, we have the ARRB declassififed McNamara phone call with JFK and Bundy of October 2nd, plus the declassified SecDef meeting in May of 1963 in which McNamara is not just beginning to supervise the withdrawal, but he wants it to proceed faster. Everyone there, about 60 people in all, understands we are getting out. Plus we have the whole back channel operation on the McNamara/Taylor Report being supervised by Kennedy.

    This new evidence even convinced the NY TImes and Philadelphia Inquirer that JFK was planning to get out of Vietnam. On top of that there are the books based upon this newly declassified record e.g. by David Kaiser, James Blight, and Gordon Goldstein. In none of these new works is any attention paid at all to Chomsky’s mildewed axe grinding.

    Where you got the stuff on the Missile Crisis is weird. As Don GIbson writes, Russell is about as reliable on Kennedy as Chomsky. And when was Kennedy plotting to kill Castro? That was never part of Mongoose, who’s files have been declassified as part of the ARRB–which apparently again you have not read. The declassified CIA IG report admits that none of the CIA-Mafia plots ever had presidential approval. Again, you did not read this.

    As per the Turkey missiles, if you read the declassified transcripts–which again, you have not– Kennedy thought they already had been removed. He wanted them out and replaced with Polaris submarines. Which is what happened after. The rest of your rant on this is ridiculous. Kennedy was masterly during the crisis which was wholly caused by the Russian Premier. Which is why Nikita K. was then removed by the Politburo. And it was JFK who resisted both invasion and air strikes, even after Castro shot down a U2.

    As per the missile estimate, that false info was given to him by Symington. Once he understood what the real count was, when Allen Dulles suggested a first strike in the fall of 1961, Kennedy walked out of the room and said, “And we call ourselves the human race.”

    Do you ever read anything? The death squads were started by the CIA in the Guatemala coup of 1954 by Tracy Barnes and Allen Dulles. Just like BRAC, the secret police in Cuba, was begun by the Dulles brothers as a tip to Batista. The Brazil coup, as discussed in Kai Bird’s book The Chairman and by A. J. Langguth was Ok’ed at a meeting in President Johnson’s office with David Rockefeller. Rockefeller then sent his agent John McCloy to Brazil to try to get Goulart to abdicate. When he did not, the Navy under Vernon Walthers showed up off shore. As Langguth notes, JFK refused to take that meeting with Rockefeller.

    As per JFK’s dovish policies, please show me where he sent in the Army or Marines to invade another Third World country. LBJ did it twice a year after his election–in Vietnam and Dominican Republic. In the latter, it was against the guy JFK favored, Juan Bosch. Also, please note what happened to JFK’s policy reforms of Eisenhower in Laos, Indonesia, Iran and Congo after LBJ took over. They were all reversed quickly.

    Keep it up, this is like target practice.

    PS: I thought Cockburn died. Maybe he faked his death and is using the name of Ronald Reed?

  15. July 29, 2012 at 19:42

    While I found diEugenio’s book on the Kennedy assassination provocative and intriguing, I am somewhat troubled by the idealistic portrait he paints of JFK in this review.

    First, while he properly chastises Caro for relying upon memoirs and memories removed by several years from the events being remembered, he does exactly the same thing himself in relying on the post-1967 recollections of the coterie of war criminals who infested Kennedy’s White House. All of these to a man, for the three years or so following the assassination, described Kennedy as hawkish, committed to victory in Southeast Asia, and willing to withdraw troops only on condition that the anti-communists were well on their way to victory. (See Chomsky’s refutation of John Newman”s book, “Camelot Revisited.”)

    Moreover, during the Cuban missile crisis, the great philosopher, author and statesman Lord Bertrand Russell took it upon himself to telephone both Krushchev and Kennedy to try to wind things down; he later reported that he found Krushchev a willing listener, and Kennedy absolutely unyielding. Remember, at that time, not only was the White House engaged in a protracted conspiracy, against international law, to assassinate the head of state of a country with which we were not at war — Cuba — but Kennedy had also placed ICBMs in Turkey, on Russia’s border, with a few minutes’ warning time from Moscow. Furthermore, as was described and discussed at length in “To Win a Nuclear War: the Pentagon’s Secret War Plans,” by Michio Kaku and Daniel Axelrod (Boston: South End Press, 1986; ISBN #0-89608-321-7), the Pentagon was actively planning, with the president’s tacit approval, a surprise nuclear attack against the Soviet Union, as it had been for the previous 14 years and would continue to do until the fall of the target country. All the U.S. had to do to resolve the crisis was agree to remove the extremely provocative missiles from the Soviet border,as was unofficially agreed to by a lower level emissary. Kennedy refused to do this, for fear of being labeled weak. He himself confided to his brother that there was a one in three chance that the world would be plunged into nuclear war by his decision. (Indeed, that very nearly became the case, as following his refusal to budge, the Kremlin ordered a submarine captain to run the illegal blockade on the high seas that Kennedy had instituted, which would very likely have led to a nuclear exchange. The wor4ld owes its continued existence to the bravery of the Soviet captain, who refused to carry out the order.)

    We also have Kennedy’s campaign, in which he both exaggerated wildly the number of Soviet missiles to please the hawks — in reality, rather than their having parity or even superiority, the U.S. had around ten to a hundred times as many — and, having been briefed about plans for the Bay of Pigs, accused Nixon, who sat on the 40 Committee that made that decision and those plans, of being “soft on Cuba,” knowing full well that Nixon, sitting on that committee and in possession of top secret knowledge, would be unable to fight back — a small thing that Nixon never forgave Kennedy for.

    At his inauguration, Kennedy gave the most bellicose speech of many years, and included a fascist pronouncement that was greeted at the time with delirious abandonment by the rabidly pro-war press corps, namely, that people should consecrate themselves to the State, rather than expecting it — the government which is supposed to serve the people — to do anything for them.

    As to his alleged support for Latin American democracy, it should be remembered that when he launched his vaunted Alliance for Progress, he accompanied it with what is usually termed the National Security Doctrine, whereby the militaries of Latin America were to switch from defense against external enemies to “internal defense” — that is, treating the move for social justice and redistribution of power and land as subversive and calling for extreme repression. In that sense, Kennedy may be regarded as the intellectual father of the death squads that have plagued Latin America ever since. (He was closely involved with the planning of the coup in Brazil, which took place shortly after his assassination and was the first of many throughout the southern sphere.)

    Among his famous utterances was the one about preferring — Of Course — a democratic government, but faced with the choice between a communist one and a fascist one, we would reluctantly choose the fascist (authoritarian, but what are labels?). By “communist” was meant, in the liberal political lexicon of the time, one that was dedicated to the welfare of the people who lived in the country rather than the foreign masters in Washington and the corporate predators from the monetary capitals.

    The overriding point is that far from being dovish and accommodating, as described by his advisers only *after* the Vietnam War turned sour around 1968, Kennedy was a notable hawk, and his brother Bobby, famous as aide to McCarthy during the witch trials, and close to the unchallenged world heavyweight of corruption, repression and hypocrisy Roy Cohn, was even worse.

    There is a substantial cottage industry these days in romanticizing Camelot and imagining that things would have been so much different if only Kennedy had lived. The longing for a strong and benevolent father figure has always been strong among people who are insecure and have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, which pretty much describes the national gestalt of the U.S. But alas for the pined-for and comforting ideal, the arc of the U.S. empire has been set at least since the time of Woodrow Wilson, and no candidate could be elected president if s/he didn’t support it.

  16. Mary Tracy
    July 29, 2012 at 17:15

    “In retrospect, the reason for the assassination is hardly a mystery. It is now abundantly clear … why the C.I.A.’s covert operations element wanted John Kennedy out of the Oval Office and Lyndon Johnson in it. The new President elevated by rifle fire to control of our foreign policy had been one of the most enthusiastic American cold warriors…. Johnson had originally risen to power on the crest of the fulminating anti-communist crusade which marked American politics after World War II. Shortly after the end of that war, he declaimed that atomic power had become ‘ours to use, either to Christianize the world or pulverize it’ — a Christian benediction if ever there was one. Johnson’s demonstrated enthusiasm for American military intervention abroad … earned him the sobriquet ‘the senator from the Pentagon….'”
    –Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins

  17. Mary Tracy
    July 29, 2012 at 17:08

    “When I mentioned about Adlai Stevenson, if he was vice-president there would never have been an assassination of our beloved President Kennedy.” –Jack Ruby’s comment to reporters while being transferred to his prison cell. When asked to explain what he meant, Ruby (Oswald’s killer and a probable conspirator in the JFK assassination) replied, “Well the answer is the man in office now [Lyndon Johnson].” Note: Adlai Stevenson advocated a conciliatory approach to international affairs in stark contrast to Democratic Party hawks like Lyndon Johnson. Johnson assumed the presidency following JFK’s murder and escalated the Vietnam War exponentially. With his comment, it seems that Ruby was dropping a hint about the assassination — that the JFK conspirators could not have achieved their goal of putting a hawk in the White House had Stevenson been Kennedy’s vice-president instead of Johnson.

  18. joe harrington
    July 29, 2012 at 13:36

    Is it not remarkable that a person openly admits he had never read the first three volumes is so quick to critize what will be the definitive work on LBJ. AS a person with a film background and a penchant to attack prevailing views on Kennedy and Johnson, I find it comfortable to know that the man focuses on all negative information available, too bad there is no balance in his review–maybe he does not want to be an historian. and yes, i’m a professional historian and an emeritus professor, and have published extensively and realize that when you take on a topic as an historian, you do not have an axe to grind, and i will concede that Caro fights his demons about LBJ, but he also promotes the positive, unlike the reviewer.

    • July 29, 2012 at 14:20

      I do think it is remarkable that DiEugenio has not read the first three Caro volumes on Caro. They are important because they give insight into the utterly corrupt and utterly ruthless nature of LBJ. Another important book on Johnson, which shows what a psychopath the man was, is “Power Beyond Reason: The Mental Collapse of Lyndon Johnson” (2002( by D. Jablow Hershman. Johnson was far, far darker and more malevalent than either Caro or Dallek portray him.

    • July 29, 2012 at 14:28

      There is not a whole lot of good to say about Lyndon Johnson. LBJ’s support of “civil rights” was his way of appeasing the liberals who justifiably suspected his involvement in the JFK assassination. Then, of course, LBJ escalated the Vietnam War. Longtime JFK researcher Ed Tatro has compared LBJ to Hitler; McGeorge Bundy made the comparison of LBJ to Joseph Stalin (see below):

      Arthur Schlesinger from his Journals 1952-2000; his diary which was published posthumously.

      January 14 1969

      “I took part with Bill Moyers, Jack Valenti, Eric Goldman and Ted Sorensen (in Kansas City) in a National Education Television commentary. Afterward Bill and I went over to the Algonquin for a drink. We talked a bit about the problem of writing about Johnson. Bill said, as he has said to me before (and Dick Goodwin has said even more often), that one great trouble was that no one would believe it. He said that he could not see how one could write about Johnson the private monster and Johnson the public statesman and construct a credible narrative. “He is a sick man,” Bill said. At one point he and Dick Goodwin became so concerned that they decided to read up on mental illness – Dick read up on paranoia and Bill on the mani-depressive cycle.”

      [Schlesinger, Journals, p. 306]

      January 15 1971

      Last night I spoke at the annual dinner of the Century. I sat next to Mac Bundy and we discussed, among other things, the Khrushchev memoirs. I remarked on the curious resemblance between Khrushchev’s account of the life around Stalin – the domineering and obsessive dictator, the total boredom of the social occasions revolving around him, the horror when invited to attend and the even greater horror when not invited – and Albert Speer’s account of the life around Hitler. Mac said, “When I read Khrushchev, I was reminded of something else in addition – my last days in the White House with LBJ.”

      [Schlesinger, Journals, p. 333]

  19. July 29, 2012 at 12:41

    I should add, the reason Caro got the origin of the Alsop call wrong is this: He did not look at the actual transcript. He relied on Max Holland’s book instead.

    Hard to believe he would do that, but he evidently did. It wasn’t for lack of time or money.

    • Nathaniel Heidenheimer
      July 29, 2012 at 20:19

      He reads Max Holland but only 1 of the last 6 key academic’s books on JFK and Vietnam? In what other field of historical study can one imagine a writer doing something like that? And then being licked by every major corporate publication.

      Only JFK. The years 1961-64 are being airbrushed from American history in a manner not one iota less propagandistic than the revisionism that was practiced in the USSR. The only thing that has changed is the air-brushes have become much more intricate. It is a censorship that smothers through false pluralism rather than via the Big Lie.

      JIm, I think your review was, if anything, an understatement of this books deep and pathetic flaws. Excellent work, though.

  20. July 29, 2012 at 12:12

    Read Operation Cyanide- Why the Bombing of the USS Liberty Nearly Caused World War III. I think Lyndon Johnson completely engineered the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, as a way of framing the Egyptians and bringing the USA into the Six Days War on the side of Israel:

  21. July 29, 2012 at 11:53

    Here is my Amazon review of Caro’s “Passage to Power.”


    Historians, including Robert Caro – at the risks of some hoots from the establishment – need to start assimilating into their books and narratives the very fine body of research that now exists on the JFK assassination from authors and researchers such as Phillip Nelson, Walt Brown, Ed Tatro, Joachim Joesten, Craig Zirbel, Noel Twyman, Doug Horne, David Lifton, Joan Mellon, Harry Livingstone, Barr McClellan, Madeleine Duncan Brown, Billie Sol Estes, James Tague, Connie Kritzberg, Thomas Buchanan, Anthony Summers, Vincent Salandria, Martin Schotz, Michael Morrisey, John Newman, Jerry Policoff, Gaeton Fonzi, Dick Russell, Russ Baker, Bruce Campbell Adamson, Wim Dankbaar, Rodney Stich, Judyth Vary Baker, Mark Lane, James Douglass, Casey Quinlan, Fletcher Prouty, Jim Garrison, Larry Hancock, Fabian Escalante, Robert Groden, Charles Crenshaw, Oliver Stone, Ed Haslam, Harry Yardum, Robert Gaylon Ross, Jim Marrs, George Michael Evica, Gary Shaw, Craig Ciccone, James Fetzer, Vince Palamara, William Turner, Penn Jones, William Turner, and John Judge.

    Jim DiEugenio needs to be read on JFK’s very dovish foreign policy and the possible role of Allen Dulles in helping to orchestrate the JFK assassination.

    • elmerfudzie
      July 31, 2012 at 12:37

      Thank you Mr Morrow, succinct and to the point!

  22. July 29, 2012 at 11:38

    Leaving out things by omission is sometimes as bad as falsifying.

    But what Caro does is worse than that since as I showed with the Lovett/Bruce report, Caro had to have known about that. Also, what about the howler I listed? There was no Mongoose is 1963. I could also have listed other howlers, like saying FDR never passed important social legislation after the court packing scheme. What about the FLSA, one year after?

    Caro’s book is very disappointing. Prior to this, the guy had pretty much a free ride, but he is now dealing with material that others are quite familiar with. And he has been properly exposed as the Wizard of Oz, working with smoke and noise amplification. Lyndon Johnson was a really bad president who began the spiral downward of America. And there should be no whitewash of that. I am grateful to Bob for giving me the chance to show that if the emperor (Caro) was not quite naked, he was only wearing pajamas.

    • July 30, 2012 at 04:49

      1. You wrote : “Leaving out things by omission is sometimes as bad as falsifying.” -> I say, the key word, here, is “sometimes”.
      2. You also wrote : “Caro’s book is very disappointing.” -> I say, perhaps, I don’t know. It’s your opinion. I myself don’t have the knowledge to make an opinion.
      2. You also wrote : “Lyndon Johnson was a really bad president.” -> I say, perhaps, I don’t know. It’s your opinion. I myself don’t have the knowledge, nor the position, to make an opinion.
      It’s all a matter of opinion.
      On the contrary, what is not a matter of opinion is whether or not Kennedy was killed as a result of a conspiracy. Only facts have their say here. And the evidence shows that Lee Oswald was the lone assassin.
      So you should have stuck to Caro’s book. I would have had nothing to say. But the minute you start to imply the Warren Commission did not tell the truth, then I have to step onto the ring.

      • Robert Schwartz
        July 31, 2012 at 17:56

        Meticulous research leads me to believe that the numeral subsequent to “2” is “3,” and not “2.” Are you that meticulous in your research?

        Sorry folks, I couldn’t help it.

  23. July 29, 2012 at 11:10

    Pierre Salinger was convinced that Lyndon Johnson blackmailed his way onto the 1960 Democratic ticket:

    Robert Kennedy to Pierre Salinger on why in the world John Kennedy would pick the despised Lyndon Johnson to be his VP running mate in 1960: “The whole story will never be known. And it’s just as well that it won’t be.” RFK said this to Salinger just a few days after the 1960 Democratic convention.
    John Simkin:

    “One of Kennedy’s most important advisers, Hyman Raskin, claims that Kennedy had a meeting with Johnson and Rayburn early on the morning after his nomination. According to all other sources, at this time, these two men were strongly opposed to the idea of Johnson becoming Kennedy’s running-mate. However, Kennedy told Raskin a different story. Johnson was very keen to join the ticket and “made an offer he could not refuse”. Raskin took this to mean that Kennedy was blackmailed into offering Johnson the post.

    This view is supported by another of Kennedy’s close advisers. Pierre Salinger was opposed to the idea of Johnson being Kennedy’s running-mate. He believed that the decision would lose more votes than it would gain. Salinger believed that Kennedy would lose the support of blacks and trade unionists if Johnson became the vice-presidential candidate. Although Johnson would deliver Texas his place on the ticket would mean Kennedy would lose California. A few days after the decision had been made, Salinger asked Kennedy why? He replied, “The whole story will never be known. And it’s just as well that it won’t be.” Salinger also got the impression that Kennedy had been blackmailed into accepting Johnson.”

  24. July 29, 2012 at 11:08

    In reality John Kennedy was all set to pick Sen. Stuart Symington of Missouri who was very popular in California, which had a whopping 35 electoral votes at that time. With Johnson on the ticket, Kennedy lost California by a razer close 1/2 of a percent. It is very possible that a Kennedy/Symington ticket would have WON California.

    Read the Dark Side of Camelot by Seymour Hersh, p.124-129:
    Close JFK friend Hy Raskin: “Johnson was not being given the slightest bit of consideration by any of the Kennedys… On the stuff I saw it was always Symington who was going to be the vice president. The Kennedy family had approved Symington.” [Hersh, p. 124]

    John Kennedy to Clark Clifford on July 13, 1960: “We’ve talked it out – me, dad, Bobby – and we’ve selected Symington as the vice president.” Kennedy asked Clark Clifford to relay that message to Symington “and find out if he’d run.” …”I and Stuart went to bed believing that we had a solid, unequivocal deal with Jack.” [Hersh, p.125]

    Hy Raskin: “It was obvious to them that something extraordinary had taken place, as it was to me,” Raskin wrote. “During my entire association with the Kennedys, I could not recall any situation where a decision of major significance had been reversed in such a short period of time…. Bob [Kennedy] had always been involved in every major decision; why not this one, I pondered… I slept little that night.” [Hersh, p. 125]

    John Kennedy to Clark Clifford in the morning of July 14, 1960: “I must do something that I have never done before. I made a serious deal and now I have to go back on it. I have no alternative.” Symington was out and Johnson was in. Clifford recalled observing that Kennedy looked as if he’d been up all night.” [Hersh, p. 126]

    John Kennedy to Hy Raskin: “You know we had never considered Lyndon, but I was left with no choice. He and Sam Rayburn made it damn clear to me that Lyndon had to be the candidate. Those bastards were trying to frame me. They threatened me with problems and I don’t need more problems. I’m going to have enough problems with Nixon.” [Hersh, p. 126]

    Raskin “The substance of this revelation was so astonishing that if it had been revealed to me by another other than Jack or Bob, I would have had trouble accepting it. Why he decided to tell me was still very mysterious, but flattering nonetheless.” [Hersh, p. 126]

  25. July 29, 2012 at 11:07

    Lyndon Johnson played a critical role in the JFK assassination. Google “LBJ-CIA Assassination of JFK.” Lyndon Johnson blackmailed his way onto the 1960 Demo ticket. As JFK told his close friend Hy Raskin – LBJ and Rayburn promised me trouble and I don’t need trouble.

    Evelyn Lincoln, JFK’s secretary, reports that Johnson, with J. Edgar Hoover’s dark help, got on the 1960 Democratic ticket by using BLACKMAIL on the Kennedys
    “During the 1960 campaign, according to Mrs. Lincoln, Kennedy discovered how vulnerable his womanizing had made him. Sexual blackmail, she said, had long been part of Lyndon Johnson’s modus operandi—abetted by Edgar. “J. Edgar Hoover,” Lincoln said, “gave Johnson the information about various congressmen and senators so that Johnson could go to X senator and say, `How about this little deal you have with this woman?’ and so forth. That’s how he kept them in line. He used his IOUs with them as what he hoped was his road to the presidency. He had this trivia to use, because he had Hoover in his corner. And he thought that the members of Congress would go out there and put him over at the Convention. But then Kennedy beat him at the Convention. And well, after that Hoover and Johnson and their group were able to push Johnson on Kennedy.”LBJ,” said Lincoln, “had been using all the information Hoover could find on Kennedy—during the campaign, even before the Convention. And Hoover was in on the pressure on Kennedy at the Convention.” (Anthony Summers, Official and Confidential, p. 272).

  26. Ralph Yates
    July 29, 2012 at 10:56

    Francois is just a typical conspiracy-denier noise-maker. James Douglass pretty much pushed the evidence for conspiracy beyond the point of deniability in his book ‘The Unspeakable’. Typical of conspiracy-deniers Francois wants to divert us to his contemptuous blabber in order to get around the solid proof Douglass presented. After Douglass the conspiracy will never return to the category of doubt.

    Francois has no sense of self-exposure with his pathetically transparent “thank you for expressing your opinion” patronizing. After Douglass all he is is a noise-maker trying to get conspiracy mockery in – despite the obvious facts. His presence is that of a defiant clown trying to pose himself as credible arbiter. Just a nay-sayer against the obvious truth.

  27. Nathaniel Heidenheimer
    July 29, 2012 at 10:43

    Excellent review. It is positively frightening that Caro’s book has gotten such rave reviews. Everyone should spread this article around. There is no more free press, so you have to click and paste.

    The Assassination, shorn of policy implications becomes mere whodunnit.

    With the real implications discussed above, it delegitimates our current completely corrupted political system.

  28. July 29, 2012 at 09:48

    To Ken Murray :
    Well, when Black Op radio host Len Osanic and Jame DiEugenio were looking for someone to debate Jim DiEugenio a few years ago I said I was a candidate but THEY refused.
    And how could I get hammered by someone with “theories”, when I will defend myself with “facts” ?

    • ken murray
      July 29, 2012 at 10:10

      That’s a bunch of BS Carlier. Your just a chicken as David Von Pein is when it comes to a debate. Instead of doing reviews of books that you have NEVER read on the JFK assassination over at Amazon, you should instead do a review on ‘Leave It To Beaver”. You would fit in nicely then with Von Pein. Yo know “facts”? You should apply for a job on comedy central.

      • Pasquale DiFabrizio
        July 29, 2012 at 12:34

        I think Mr. Carlier is suffering mentally. He wrote in one of his comments above:
        “It looks to me that all DiEugenio can do in his article is underline items that are not wrong, but simply missing (according to him). That means Caro’s book is still true.”
        Then he writes…”What matters is that Robert Caro wrote true things, and never tried to distort, nor misinform, no lie.”

        I guess Mr. Carlier doesn’t realize that when you omit information from an issue, it tends to present a flawed picture of the entire story. When you leave out certain facts, Mr. Carlier, the average reader is naturally lead astray. They don’t receive a fair and balanced picture regarding JFK and Johnson.

        In fact, deception by omission of facts is probably the most common form of disinformation there is.

        The mainstream media don’t print stories all the time that people should be reading or they bury them in the back of the front page section. I’m surprised that Mr. Carlier doesn’t realize this. Maybe Mr. Carlier DOES realize this and is pretending not to.

        I was surprised, for example, to find a very small, tiny article, printed by the L.A. Times saying that the brother of Ronald Regan’s shooter was on a dinner guest list of Neil Bush, one of the Bushes. Interesting eh? I was also surprised to find that news people like Walter Kronkite (sp?) and the like were announcing to the world for an entire day that a Mauser rifle was found in the book depository on the day JFK was shot. Not only did news reporters report this, but you can also see a copy of a police Affidavit of Evidence, signed by policeman Seymour Weitzman, describing a 7.65 Mauser that was found. You can also easily go to any venue like Youtube and see another policeman, Roger Craig, saying in an interview that a Mauser was found. Then suddenly the story changed, making it the Manlicher Carcano (sp?) that was supposedly found on the sixth floor of the book depository. You never heard of this anymore despite the “facts” I stated above. The media won’t talk about it except for that first day or so.
        Here’s a link showing the affidavit. I believe it’s a Warren Commission exhibit, but I’m not sure. Take a good look at it.

        Are these the same “facts” that Mr. Carlier is talking about? I don’t think so. It seems that Mr. Carlier is not concerned with these kinds of facts, right?

        I can also direct any reader here to find a brief news video (you can find it on any venue such as Youtube) showing Walter Kronkite (sp?) announcing to the world that MLK was shot. In that broadcast, Kronkite says to the world that in addition to a rifle being found and reports of a white man fleeing the scene that the police also chased and shot at a “radio equipped” car containing two white men. That’s amazing, isn’t it? The media just won’t talk about it, and Mr. Carlier doesn’t seem concerned with those kinds of omitted “facts” as well.

        I wonder what “facts” Mr. Carlier is talking about and why Mr. Carlier doesn’t seem concerned with omission of facts.

        • Pasquale DiFabrizio
          July 29, 2012 at 12:39

          Oh, I forgot a link to the news article about Scot Hinkley, the brother of Regan’s shooter, being on a dinner guest list of Neil Bush, one of the Bushes. You can verify this by going to L.A. Times’ website and paying a few dollars for an actual copy of their article on the issue.

          Are these the kinds of “facts” that Mr. Carlier doesn’t find important? LOL

          • ken murray
            July 29, 2012 at 13:18

            “Facts” in Carlier’s view are PROVEN facts that he doesn’t believe in lol.

  29. July 29, 2012 at 09:45

    Thank you, Mister Ralph Yates, for expressing your opinion. I have read your message carefully. But there is something you must know : the conspiracy to kill Kennedy happened only in your dreams. Reality is something else. Unfortunately, you seem unable to grasp that truth. You are a pure product of conspiracy culture. I suggest you read : “Conspiracy culture”, by Peter Knight, and “Real ennemies”, by Kathryn S. Olmsted.
    I don’t deny James DiEugenio’s knowledge of American history in general and Lyndon Johnson’s presidency in particular. Granted, I can’t compare with him on that. He might even be right in his general criticism of Robert Caro’s book, for all I care.
    But as far as critical thinking is concerned, I could run circles around James DiEugenio. And I’ll tell you something: I shall never tire of writing what I believe in.
    James DiEugenio has the right to criticize Robert Caro. As for me, since the evidence proves that Oswald killed Kennedy and there was no conspiracy, I also have every right to criticize those who claim otherwise !

    • Nathaniel Heidenheimer
      July 29, 2012 at 17:11

      Francois, I am very curious about Olmstead’s book. Her 1995 book on the mid Seventies Intelligence oversight committees of Congress made it very clear that the NYT and the WaPost worked over the public to get them to favor increased secrecy for the intelligence agencies, even though, as “the year of intelligence, ” 1975, opened, the public clearly favored increased sunlight.

      What particular points does she make about the JFK assassination.? Please be as specific as possible. Quotes would be good too. I have been curious about this book for some time.

  30. ken murray
    July 29, 2012 at 09:44

    Excellent review by Jim DiEugenio. Mr. Carlier you consider yourself an “expert” on the JFK assassination. That’s a laugh. Your far from it. If you are so much an “expert” why don’t you have a debate with Mr. DiEugenio? I personally would love to see you get hammered on the subject.

  31. Ralph Yates
    July 29, 2012 at 08:44

    Francois’ reasoning and logic are a little bizarre. He’s obviously having trouble digesting the fact he can’t get around DiEugenio’s thorough dissection of Caro’s work. The power of conspiracy denial is obviously so strong that persons like Francois are blinded to the objective foolishness of what they write. To try to reduce Caro’s dishonest and under-referenced rendering of Johnson to “free choice” is such an idiotic standard that it stands as self-parody of he who wrote it. If this were the rule the same standard could be applied to justify a prosecutor who used “free choice” to omit critical evidence in a case. This is simply dumb and shows the bizarre mental contortions those in denial of the Kennedy conspiracy will go to to maintain their delusion.
    What DiEugenio does is show how the true version of events surrounding both President Kennedy and his assassination, as well as Johnson, has been purged from the American literary scene by voluntary censorship in order to satisfy the status quo. That history has been courting a body of lies and omissions in order to avoid the truth behind JFK’s assassination and Lyndon Johnson’s complicity. Francois’ ignorant/contemptuous patronizing is only his own self-mockery for those with the sense to see it for what it is.
    DiEugenio does a great service in exposing a court historian selling a false and deficient account to those false citizens who cheer on a false history in order to maintain a false republic. And this is why Kennedy was such a great man. Because this sordid group of self-deceivers had to kill him in order to maintain their dark rule. What Francois obviously refuses to admit is that this dark light is what defines Johnson and his presidency the most and is what Caro deliberately omits, as DiEugenio deftly exposes. In the end Francois himself is a good example of the danger in what Caro writes and what his spin lends credibility to.

  32. July 29, 2012 at 07:11

    While I have been an avid reader for years, and especially interested in history, and rather well-versed in modern American history, I do not consider myself an historian. Far from it. I don’t have the background, nor the knowledge, nor the wisdom. Therefore I’ll refrain myself from giving my opinion about author Robert Caro’s new book, and the way he writes about Lyndon Johnson’s presidency.
    However, after reading James DiEugenio’s very long (8194 words) article about Caro’s book, and having known the guy for years, myself being an expert on the Kennedy assassination (albeit “from the other side”, according to DiEugenio himself), I do believe I have the right to say a few words about it.
    It looks to me that all DiEugenio can do in his article is underline items that are not wrong, but simply missing (according to him). That means Caro’s book is still true. What DiEugenio criticizes, in fact, is that Robert Caro did not put in his book what he (DiEugenio) would have liked to read. That’s what I call free and useless criticism. DiEugenio seems unhappy that Caro did not put as much importance on some topics as Bernstein did his in own works. So what ? Should Robert Caro have copied and pasted all the content of Bernstein’s or Gibson’s books to please DiEugenio ? That’s nonsense. Robert Caro wrote a book with his own sensibility. Caro has written a book on Johnson’s presidency with a different perspective than what James DiEugenio would have had. That’s his freedom. That doesn’t mean that DiEugenio’s would be better that Caro’s. So nothing is really “missing” from Caro’s book. He simply did not see fit to include in it what others (like DiEugenio) would have included. Period.
    So, what DiEugenio calls “shortcomings” are not really shortcomings at all. The fact is merely that Robert Caro’s viewpoint is not the same as DiEugenio’s. That’s all. Caro was totally free to want to avoid any direct comparison between Johnson’s and Kennedy’s policies. That he may have wanted to present Johnson’s presidency in a positive light is his right, isn’t it ?
    What matters is that Robert Caro wrote true things, and never tried to distort, nor misinform, no lie. Which – alas – cannot be said of DiEugenio. Because Jim DiEugenio, true to his vintage style, couldn’t stop himself from adding some comments on the Warren Commission and throwing in his conspiracy beliefs. And that’s where he erred. Indeed, giving his sane opinion and objective point of view on Robert Caro’s book is all fine, but adding his erroneous conspiracy beliefs is bad and really damages his article. For the truth is, James DiEugenio could repeat for a million years the words “cover-up” and “domestic plot” (he likes them), that does not change the fact that no such thing happened in 1963 regarding the Kennedy assassination. And, I’m sorry to say it bluntly, but when James DiEugenio writes (I quote) : “the Warren Commission was a flimsy cover-up designed to conceal the true circumstances of JFK’s murder”, well, that’s simply a lie. What James DiEugenio does here is nothing less than slander. That’s bad, to say the least. Because, should I repeat it for the umpteenth time here, Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole assassin of President Kennedy. There was no conspiracy. That has been demonstrated beyond any doubt, and only die-hard conspiracy theorists such as James DiEugenio continue to say otherwise, by denying reality. And please, Mister DiEugenio, don’t try to mention writers such as Mark Lane, or Harold Weisberg, or Josiah Thompson, for it diminishes the quality of your article. All those authors have been proved wrong (and I know all of them, and their writings, quite well).
    One good thing, though. James DiEugenio was reasonable enough to stay away from the utterly nonsensical Johnson-did-it conspiracy theory, which is spread elsewhere by extreme conspiracists such as Robert Morrow. No idiotic Madeleine Brown disinformation either. Good. Very good !
    All in all, an interesting article, that I enjoyed reading, if only because I learned a thing or two. But nothing to really scare Robert Caro. All James DiEugenio was able to do through that article is remind us that he doesn’t believe in the Warren report’s conclusions. So What ? We already knew that. And though he may be a knowledgeable historian, he is definitely very wrong in that regard.

    • July 29, 2012 at 14:33

      Madeleine Duncan Brown was a mistress of Lyndon Johnson for 21 years and had a son with him named Steven Mark Brown in 1950. Madeleine mixed with the Texas elite and had many trysts with Lyndon Johnson over the years, including one at the Driskill Hotel in Austin, TX, on New Year’s Eve 12/31/63.
      In the late evening of 12/31/63, just 6 weeks after the JFK assassination, Madeleine asked Lyndon Johnson:
      “Lyndon, you know that a lot of people believe you had something to do with President Kennedy’s assassination.”
      He shot up out of bed and began pacing and waving his arms screaming like a madman. I was scared!
      “That’s bull___, Madeleine Brown!” he yelled. “Don’t tell me you believe that crap!”
      “Of course not.” I answered meekly, trying to cool his temper.
      “It was Texas oil and those _____ renegade intelligence bastards in Washington.” [said Lyndon Johnson] [Texas in the Morning, p. 189] [LBJ told this to Madeleine in the late night of 12/31/63 in the Driskill Hotel, Austin, TX in room #254. They spent New Year’s Eve together here six weeks post JFK assassination. Room #254 was the room that LBJ used to have rendevous’s with his girlfriends – today it is known as the “Blue Room” or the “Presidential room” and rents for $600-1,000/night as a Presidential suite at the Driskill; located on the Mezzanine Level.]

      • July 29, 2012 at 15:23

        That’s nonsense. Debunked long ago. Madeleine Brown made up stories to get some easy money. Even Walt Brown admitted that what she said was not the truth. So stop spreading your disinformation.

        • Mary Tracy
          July 29, 2012 at 17:05

          Yeah … right. For years we had the Warren Commission apologists asking us why no one had come forward with evidence of conspiracy. Now when someone does come forward, the apologists say that the person is lying. In the case of E. Howard Hunt’s death-bed confession, claiming CIA involvement and naming names, our corporate media basically ignores the story.

          • July 29, 2012 at 17:50

            Why don’t you start learning a little bit, before you make a fool of yourself ? Get your facts straight, please. Should I remind you that even conspiracy theorist Walt Brown says with authority that the Murchison party didn’t happen and Madeleine Brown is lying ? (reference : Walt Brown, interviewed on Black Op Radio, show n°356, January 2008, with Len Osanic)

          • Mary Tracy
            July 29, 2012 at 18:24

            Francois Carlier — A Warren Commission apologist referencing a conspiracy theorist … LOL. What a twit you are. Walt Brown wasn’t there, so he’s just expressing a belief. Supporting Madeleine Brown’s account is another witness, May Newman (an employee of Texas oilman Clint Murchison) who placed J. Edgar Hoover at a social gathering at Murchison’s mansion the night before the assassination.

            I notice that you have nothing to say about E. Howard Hunt’s deathbed confession that the CIA was involved in planning the assassination.

          • July 29, 2012 at 19:39

            Sir, if I may insist, I advise you to listen to the Black Op Radio show that I mentioned. Walt Brown does have good arguments, not just an opinion.
            As to what I think about such and such specific topics (Hunt or other stuff), well, this is not the place to talk about it. This page is about Caro vs. DiEugenio.

  33. bill mcwilliams
    July 28, 2012 at 20:50

    Excellent work, Mr. DiEugenio. It is obvious that you have a wide and deep knowledge of the Johnson presidential years.

    That said, the only nit I have to pick with your review is that you seem to overemphasize a lot of relatively minor matters before finally getting to the
    important ones.

    Caro’s interest in how political power(in the U.S.)is gained and used, is, in my opinion, admirably applied in his LBJ books – the JFK tax reduction bill strategy notwithstanding.

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