First edition of W. W. Norton & Co., 2007
|Subject||True crime, John F. Kennedy assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald, United States conspiracies|
|Publisher||W. W. Norton & Company|
|May 15, 2007|
|Media type||Print (hardcover, audio CD, Audible.com audio edition, Amazon Kindle|
|LC Class||E842.9.B84 2007|
Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy is a book by attorney Vincent Bugliosi (Norton, 2007; 1,632 pages; ISBN 0-393-04525-0) that analyzes the events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy, focusing on the lives of Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. The book is drawn from many sources, including the Warren Report. Bugliosi's 1,632-page, 1,535,791-word book (with a CD-ROM containing an additional 1,000+ pages of footnotes) analyzes all aspects of the assassination and the rise of the conspiracy theories about Kennedy's assassination in the years subsequent to the event. 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.
Much of the book was based on Bugliosi's preparation for a mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald staged by British television, in which he acted as the prosecutor of Oswald, and obtained a verdict of "guilty":
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.
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. In a 2009 interview with Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times, Bugliosi described Reclaiming History as his magnum opus and said it was the work of which he was most proud. Comparing its sales with his 1974 bestseller Helter Skelter, he told Morrison "if you want to make money, you don't put out a book that weighs 7 1⁄2 pounds and costs $57 and has over 10,000 citations and a million and a half words."
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 his 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
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.'" 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." 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." 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." 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".
The book has received criticism from conspiracy advocates and theorists. Reviewing the book's introduction for Salon, David Talbot criticized Bugliosi's characterization of Robert Kennedy's views of the Warren Commission, calling Bugliosi's research "skin-deep" and that he is "guilty of cooking the facts to make his case".
Alternate versions and adaptations
A shorter excerpt of the book titled Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Norton, 2008; 688 pages; ISBN 978-0-393-33215-5) was published in paperback the following year. This version dispensed with much of Bugliosi's debunking of conspiracy theories, concentrating on his narrative of the actual events. This book, in turn, was reissued and retitled in 2013 as Parkland to tie in with the film Parkland, which was based on the book.
- "Mystery Writers of America Announces the 2008 Edgar Award Winners". 2008-05-01. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Bugliosi, Reclaiming History, p.xvi
- Kenny, Terrence (May 15, 2007). "JFK Conspiracy Theories: A Book to Disprove Them All". ABC News. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- Morrison, Patt (August 8, 2009). "Vincent Bugliosi: Taking on Charles Manson". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- Burrough, Bryan (May 20, 2007). "Or No Conspiracy?". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- Kingsbury, Alex (June 3, 2007). "The Final Verdict". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- Donoghue, Steve (July 1, 2007). "He Died". www.openlettersmonthly.com. Open Letters Monthly. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- Shipman, Tim (May 13, 2007). "Oswald 'was the sole assassin of JFK'". The Telegraph. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- Kirkus Reviews (April 1, 2007). "Reclaiming History". Kirkus Reviews. Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
- Talbot, David (May 17, 2007). "Bugliosi vs. "Brothers": The attorney's massive new tome gets Bobby Kennedy wrong". Salon. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
- "Four Days in November" W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Retrieved January 14, 2018
- Thomas Mallon, "A Knoll of One's Own", The Atlantic.
- Ron Rosenbaum, "The Return of the Magic Bullet", Slate.
- Who Killed Kennedy? One Man’s Answer
- Video of Vincent Bugliosi discussing JFK assassination