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6 Myths About JFK’s Death

Famed Charles Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi tackled myths about the assassination in his 2007 book

spinner image author vincent bugliosi and his book reclaiming history the assassination of president john f kennedy
Author Vincent Bugliosi in 2011. The cover of his 2007 book about President John F. Kennedy.
David Livingston/Getty Images; Simon & Schuster

Editor's note: This article was originally published in the 2007 July/August issue of AARP The Magazine.

In his 1,632-page book, Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, released in 2007, famed prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi — who convicted Charles Manson in 1971 — takes on the conspiracy theorists who disputed the Warren Commission and helped convince 75 percent of Americans that Lee Harvey Oswald was either part of a high-level conspiracy or a patsy for anti-Castro Cuban exiles working with U.S. intelligence or the Mob.

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“I don’t believe that any rational person can read this book without being satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Oswald killed Kennedy and acted alone,” says Bugliosi. “In a strange way, people want to believe in a conspiracy because it gives more meaning to the president’s life. They find it intellectually incongruous that someone whom they perceived to be in a metaphorical sense a king was struck down by a peasant.”

1. Vice President Lyndon Johnson was involved 

“Preposterous on its face. There is no credible evidence to support it.”

2. It would have taken a ‘magic bullet’ to hit both Kennedy and Texas governor John Connally, given its crooked trajectory 

“This theory starts from the erroneous premise that Connally was seated in front of Kennedy. Connally was seated to the left and front — I have clear photos in the book. So a bullet passing through Kennedy’s body in a straight line had nowhere else to go; it had to hit Connally.”

3. Kennedy’s head-snap to the rear proves he was shot from the front 

“At frame 313 of the Zapruder film you see Kennedy’s head going forward 2.3 inches. That’s the critical point of impact. From frame 314 to 321 you see his head go back because of neuromuscular action; the bullet entering the brain caused nerve damage, which caused the back muscles to tighten and the head to go back.”

4. A second gunman shot Kennedy from the ‘grassy knoll’

“There is no substantive evidence that any shot was fired from the grassy knoll. People thought they heard a shot coming from that direction, but that’s because the area resounds with echoes. The knoll would have been within view of all the people coming down Elm Street. No one saw anything.”

5. Oswald was timid and easily manipulated by the CIA or the Mob 

“Never in a trillion years would they conspire on the most important murder in American history with this emotionally unhinged malcontent.”

6. Jack Ruby was working for the Mob when he killed Oswald 

“Ruby wanted to create the impression that he was in the Mob, wearing an Al Capone fedora, but everyone knew that was a joke. Ruby had brain damage. But he loved President Kennedy. This was a guy who thought he was going to be a hero for killing the guy who killed the President.”

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