By: Roderick T. Beaman

Lee Harvey Oswald brings me to Bill O’Reilly’s "Killing Kennedy," written with Martin Dugard. They have a lucid engaging style that packs a lot of information into just 302 pages. They carefully craft each sentence to that purpose. It is a style that I envy and hope to achieve. 

They give an accurate feel for the Kennedy years. JFK’s heroics in the Pacific during WWII are presented nicely. Kennedy’s unsurprising, but not well known at the time, philandering is not sugar coated. They could have covered his rumored but denied Addison’s Disease better but that may be quibbling. 

They cover his early friendship with Frank Sinatra and how he used Sinatra, finally snubbed him and ended their friendship when it became politically expedient. It’s all there and is an easy but very informative read. O’Reilly must have been a very effective teacher. 

They don’t shrink from mentioning the conspiracy theories that have emerged but, obviously, can not discuss them in depth. The theories started with Joachim Joesten’s "Lee Harvey Oswald - Assassin or Fall Guy?" which was written before The Warren Commission’s Report was released. The culmination of them, at that time, was Mark Lane’s "Rush to Judgment" that supposedly destroyed the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Oswald was the sole gunman. 

Joesten was a lifelong Marxist and had been a member of the German Communist Party. When he came to The United States, he worked with Victor Perlo, a lifelong communist and FDR administration functionary. Mark Lane was a lifelong devotee? of leftist causes. Who did they maintain were behind the assassination? Why, of course, right wingers and another favorite whipping boy, The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)! 

I have never read an entire book on the assassination but I have read many excerpts, pro and con The Warren Commission Report. One of the many bones of contention is the so-called ‘magic bullet’ that, supposedly, had to change path to account for both Kennedy’s neck wounds and Gov. John Connally’s. I read a discussion of it in an article in a medical magazine where Gerald Posner, author of the book "Case Closed," dealt with the discrepancies to my satisfaction. 

Over the years, many challenges have been raised as to whether anyone could have gotten off the three rounds in the time in question. Supposedly, some expert marksmen couldn’t duplicate it. Although I don’t consider myself an expert marksman, nevertheless I qualified as expert with an M-16 when I was in the National Guard. I once saw a view of a car similar to Kennedy’s presidential limousine from the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD) window and it did not impress me as a particularly difficult feat, even with a moving target. 

Many conspiracy buffs question The Warren Commission Report because it didn’t meet a certain level of proof. Well, if you’re going to dismiss a hypothesis because it doesn’t meet a certain level of proof, anything you propose must, at least, meet the same level. I am not aware of any. 

Differing versions of the events emerged at the time and conspiracy buffs have seized upon them but there often is confusion in times of chaos and what could be more chaotic than the assassination of a president? And who’s to say that someone didn’t simply plant a story? I’ve witnessed exactly something just like that. 

A few years after those horrible events, my very same fraternity house burnt down in a fire, destroying two next door fraternity houses, in the middle of the night. The news people were soon on the scene. I stood next to an NYU student affairs official, when he pointed out a downed power line and said that it must have started the fire, which it hadn’t and he knew it! The reporters went with it but later, the power company stated that the fire started before the power line came down, which it had.

He was trying to buy time for NYU. We weren’t supposed to be living in that fraternity house but we were and everyone on campus knew it. NYU had looked the other way and might be in some hot water. That’s how some stories get started and they can develop lives of their own. 

Why couldn’t some of the discrepancies about the assassination be explained that way, to deflect some kind of criticism but of much less importance or by simple confusion? It almost always takes time to sort out details and chronology of even simple events. 

And if you’re going to maintain that Oswald had nothing to do with it, as some do, then you also have to explain away a lot of Oswald’s behavior in the weeks prior to the assassination and the observations of many who were in Dealey Plaza that day and identified the shots as having come from the TSBD. There was a well thought out sniper’s nest and Oswald was seen carrying a package that resembled a rifle that very morning.

O’Reilly describes an incident at a firing range just six days prior. A man, subsequently identified as Lee Harvey Oswald, fired 8 or 10 rounds using an Italian carbine at a target with excellent accuracy and then collected each and every one of the casings. He obviously didn’t want to leave any evidence.

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Dr. Roderick T. Beaman is an osteopathic family physician practicing in Jacksonville, Florida. Born in New York City, he attended New York University as an undergraduate. A recipient of a 2003 Ron Paul Liberty in Media Award, he has had dreams (delusions?) of becoming a writer. He has written a novel that he has given up hope of ever getting published and so has made it available for the asking through  He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.

He can be reached at:

in the April 15, 2013 issue of  Ether Zone.
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