Appointment in Dallas: The Final Solution to the Assassination of JFK (1975) by Hugh McDonald
Appointment in Dallas was the first of two books I got in a 2 for $.50 deal at a thrift store a while back. It’s everything you would assume a $.25 book about the Kennedy assassination would be; light on things like verifiable facts and heavy on things like recounting alleged attempts on people’s lives because “they’re on the trail” or “know too much.” The author, Hugh McDondald, does seem to come from a legitimate law enforcement background (e.g., military, intelligence, police), but taking his story as anything other than fantasy would be criminal. Conspiracy advocates will no doubt find this book something of a Rosetta Stone seeing as how, at one point, McDonald meets the trigger man (who is now no longer on the grassy knoll, but a low floor in a building on the other side of Dealy Plaza instead) and learns very little other than he’s the dude that The Warren Commission kept saying was Lee Harvey Oswald sightseeing in Mexico City in the fall of 1963 (see below).
Not that any of this wasn’t entertaining, but after reading Vincent Bugliosi’s masterful Reclaiming History, McDonald’s book (at less than 200 pages) fails to convince. I’m not saying a simple explanation of Kennedy’s death wouldn’t make sense, but the simplest explanation is that Oswald did in fact commit the crime alone, and it took Bugliosi 1,648 pages to convince me of that. In McDonald’s case, it all works out much too easily – in less than 200 pages. And if it was that easy for him, why has it been so damn hard for everyone else over the last 47 years?
Bonus: Extra points for the grizzly book cover and the use of the term “final solution” in a seemingly constructive way.
If you like music, especially Lou Reed, film, especially Brando and/or Kubrick and extra clever reasoning and writing, especially when it comes to pop culture, you should read this book immediately. Simply stated; the theory of the advanced genius contends that when our heroes seemingly (and often inexplicably) torpedo their own greatness by making a shit film (The Island of Dr. Moreau), record (Landing on Water) or business decision (Bob Dylan soundtracking a Victoria’s Secret advert), they are in fact operating on a plane so much higher than yours, their greatness is invisible. Plausible? Maybe. Entertaining? Absolutely. In fact, the “theory” is less entertaining than the writing; sort of David Foster Wallace meets James Fallows. In fact, I think the inclusion of Chuck Klosterman for the foreward must have been some sort of advanced idea since, clearly, Hartely’s book is wittier and more cerebral than anything I’ve ever read of Klosterman’s.
Warning: Music snobs beware. You will be humbled.
The Smoking Cupcake, July 2010