Reclaiming History

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Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy
Reclaiming History Bugliosi 1st-ed-2007 WWNorton.jpg
First edition of W. W. Norton & Co., 2007
AuthorVincent Bugliosi
CountryUnited States
SubjectTrue crime, John F. Kennedy assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald, United States conspiracies
PublisherW. W. Norton & Company
Publication date
May 15, 2007
Media typePrint (hardcover, audio CD, audio edition, Amazon Kindle
Pages1,632 pp
LC ClassE842.9.B84 2007

Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy is a book by attorney Vincent Bugliosi that analyzes the events surrounding the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy, focusing on the lives of Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. He drew from many sources, including the Warren Report. Bugliosi argues that the Warren Commission's conclusion that Lee Oswald acted alone in shooting Kennedy is correct. The book won the 2008 Edgar Award for the Best Fact Crime category.[1] Bugliosi explored the issues at length; the book is 1,632 pages. It was published with an accompanying CD-ROM containing an additional 1,000+ pages of footnotes. He analyzed both the assassination itself and the rise of the conspiracy theories about the event in the following years.

In 2008, Bugliosi published a shorter paperback edition of this book, titled Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It concentrated on the events of the assassination and aftermath. This version was adapted for the movie Parkland (2013). A second edition of his paperback was issued as Parkland (2013), to tie into the movie's release.


Bugliosi based much of the book on his preparation for a mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald staged by British television, in which he acted as the prosecutor of Oswald. The mock trial involved an actual US judge and US citizens acting as jurors, and Oswald was defended by prominent trial lawyer Gerry Spence. Bugliosi obtained a verdict of "guilty." He wrote in the Introduction to his book:

My professional interest in the Kennedy assassination dates back to March 1986 when I was approached by a British production company, London Weekend Television (LWT) to "prosecute" Lee Harvey Oswald as the alleged assassin of President Kennedy in a proposed twenty-one hour television trial to be shown in England and several other countries, including the United States. I immediately had misgivings. Up to then, I had consistently turned down offers to appear on television in artificial courtroom settings. But when I heard more of what LWT was contemplating, my misgivings quickly dissolved. Although this could not be the real trial of Oswald...LWT, working with a large budget, had conceived and was putting together the closest thing to a real trial of Oswald that there would likely ever be, the trial in London being the only "prosecution" of Oswald ever conducted with the real witnesses in the Kennedy assassination. Through painstaking and dogged effort, LWT had managed to locate and persuade most of these original key lay witnesses, many of whom had refused to even talk to the media for years, to testify...There would be absolutely no script...and no actors would be used.[2]

In 2007, Bugliosi told Cynthia McFadden of ABC News that in the preceding seven years, he had devoted 80 to 100 hours per week working on the book.[3]


The book is divided into several major parts, including a detailed chronology of the events of the assassination, as well as an exploration of the major conspiracy theories, a chapter on the trial of Jack Ruby, and a chapter featuring Bugliosi's interviews with Marina Oswald. Bugliosi also provides a "partial list of assassins...whom one or more conspiracy theorists have actually named and identified as having fired a weapon at Kennedy". The list includes 82 names.

Critical and commercial reception[edit]

In a review for The New York Times, Bryan Burrough wrote: "Bugliosi is refreshing because he doesn’t just pick apart the conspiracy theorists. He ridicules them, and by name, writing that 'most of them are as kooky as a $3 bill.'"[4] Alex Kingsbury of U.S. News & World Report described it as "the most exhaustive of the countless narratives that have been written about that fateful day in Dallas."[5] According to Steve Donoghue of Open Letters Monthly: "Reclaiming History, in addition to being the longest book ever written on the subject of the Kennedy assassination, is also the most enjoyable of them all to read."[6] Tim Shipman of The Telegraph said: "Mr Bugliosi... has turned up no new killer fact. His technique instead is to expose the double-think and distortions of the conspiracy theorists."[7] Kirkus Reviews said the point of Reclaiming History is to "dismantle [conspiracy] theories one by one, in sometimes tedious and overladen detail". Kirkus added that "Bugliosi does himself and his argument no favors with his tone of flippancy and dismissiveness," but described the book as "oddly fascinating".[8]

The book has also faced criticism. Reviewing the book's introduction and sections on Robert F. Kennedy's views of the assassination, conspiracy theorist[9] David Talbot of Salon, wrote that "Bugliosi is a courtroom lawyer, not a historian or investigative journalist. He is clearly more interested in arguing his case than in sorting with an open mind through the piles of evidence that have been amassed over the years...His claims for himself are filled with courtroom bombast: 'My only master and my only mistress are the facts and objectivity.'" [10]

Later editions and adaptations[edit]

A shorter edition of the book, titled Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, was published in paperback the following year.[11] This version largely dispensed with much of Bugliosi's debunking of conspiracy theories, and concentrated on his narrative of the known events.

In discussing publication of this version in a 2009 interview with Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times, Bugliosi described Reclaiming History as his magnum opus. He said it was the work of which he was most proud.[12] Comparing its sales to those for his 1974 bestseller Helter Skelter, he said to Morrison, "if you want to make money, you don't put out a book that weighs 7+12 pounds and costs $57 and has over 10,000 citations and a million and a half words."[12]

The 2008 book was adapted for the film Parkland (2013). The title refers to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald and years later, Jack Ruby, were taken for treatment before their deaths. The 2008 edition was reissued and retitled in 2013 as Parkland, to tie in with the release of the film.


  1. ^ "Mystery Writers of America Announces the 2008 Edgar Award Winners". 2008-05-01. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  2. ^ Bugliosi, Reclaiming History, Introduction, p.xvi
  3. ^ Kenny, Terrence (May 15, 2007). "JFK Conspiracy Theories: A Book to Disprove Them All". ABC News. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  4. ^ Burrough, Bryan (May 20, 2007). "Or No Conspiracy?". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  5. ^ Kingsbury, Alex (June 3, 2007). "The Final Verdict". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  6. ^ Donoghue, Steve (July 1, 2007). "He Died". Open Letters Monthly. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  7. ^ Shipman, Tim (May 13, 2007). "Oswald 'was the sole assassin of JFK'". The Telegraph. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  8. ^ Kirkus Reviews (April 1, 2007). "Reclaiming History". Kirkus Reviews. Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
  9. ^ "This is the guy who quietly made the CIA more powerful than God".
  10. ^ Talbot, David (May 17, 2007). "Bugliosi vs. "Brothers": The attorney's massive new tome gets Bobby Kennedy wrong". Salon. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
  11. ^ "Four Days in November" W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Retrieved January 14, 2018
  12. ^ a b Morrison, Patt (August 8, 2009). "Vincent Bugliosi: Taking on Charles Manson". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. Archived from the original on October 27, 2010. Retrieved February 27, 2013.

External links[edit]