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I'm sure Wolves, Jackals, and Foxes: The Assassins Who Changed History is a fine book, I just haven't had the time to read it. What I did have time to do is peruse the appendix, and that is fascinating... What's the most common day of the week for assassinations? Friday. Most common months? April and November. What's the fate of assassins? Most are either caught or killed at the scene or captured later, but a plurality (38.9%) are never caught. And while most heads of state are assassinated in public, the most common place for the average Joe to be whacked is right in his own home. If the book is half as interesting as the appendix, I'll fly through it. What I'm not so sure of is this fascination with assassins... at the movies (Day of the Jackal, even Grosse Pointe Blank), in books, on TV, whatever. Why are so many of us so interested in assassins?



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Peter Gabriel has a great song called "Family Snapshot" that narratees an assaination by a lone wolf. Check it out it is very compelling.

Sent by John Duffy | 3:20 PM | 8-11-2008

I think the previous caller has a great point. The assassin may be doing the deed for glory and being part of history. It makes no difference to me what name they are remembered by, so why used their real name? Why give them that satisfaction? I feel that criminals often get too much notice-which may be why they do it in the first place.

Sent by Sherry Ann | 3:23 PM | 8-11-2008

You don't mention the only woman in the United States that ever actually fired a bullet at a US president, and that is Sara Jane Moore. She did not fit any profile..she was 45, married to a physician and a mother.

Sent by Geri Spieler | 3:29 PM | 8-11-2008

I always wondered why John Hinckley shot at Reagan to impress Jodi Foster. Shouldn't he have shot a pimp to impress Foster, or a politician to impress Cybil Shephard? Did he just not watch Taxi Driver very carefully before planning his assassination? Doesn't that seem like something you'd want to double check?

-Thomas Brownback, Lawrence, KS

Sent by Thomas Brownback | 3:34 PM | 8-11-2008

Why are so many of us so interested in assassins?
THAT'S pretty easy to answer - - this is a democracy, and we are SUPPOSED to be interested in what our government is up to: Allende, Wellstone, the Kennedys, Karen Silkwood...

Sent by John G. | 3:38 PM | 8-11-2008

I was disappointed in the interview of your self proclaimed assassination expert. He commented on Lee Harvey Oswald's profile, accepting and re-inforcing Oswald's widely portrayed ID as lone assassin of JFK. Your guest expert was either unaware of, or afraid to inform your listeners of the latest quietly released documentation concerning Oswald from the CIA, the LBJ Library,and the FBI. We now know from taped White House telephone conversations, archived interviews and Warren Commission Papers that not even LBJ, Richard Russell, Hale Boggs, Senator Cooper, Walter Chronkite, or Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry believed the Oswald story in the end. I too am reluctant to shake people up or upset them by confronting them with the latest historical disclosures by the ARRB, but I'm not promoting myself as an expert to the public. If I was, I'd feel some responsibility to work up the courage to tell your audience that much of the Oswald story, as told by the Warren Commission, is now known by serious scholars to have been fabricated. I tuned into your program to see if NPR and your guest expert would tackle the Oswald fiction head-on, or side-step the issue and endorse the WC version. Whatever the reason, whether to stay on topic, fear of public reaction, or ignorance, this "expert" let us down. I hope that NPR will re-visit the issue again some day, starting with the disclosure and release of the Operation Northwoods documents.

Thank You for allowing me to comment.

Sent by Alex T | 4:30 PM | 8-11-2008

Thought your guest disqualified himself as an authority by displaying total ignorance of the latest government disclosures (AARB, FBI, CIA, etc.) concerning Oswald. A visit to the LBJ Library to listen to Johnson's taped telephone calls with Warren Commission members and Hoover would be helpful in bringing him up to date. I got the impression he had not done much "Original" research for his book.

Sent by Sally K | 5:07 PM | 8-11-2008

Mr. Hollington stammered horribly when attempting to describe and dismiss Oswald. Just what is so "complex" about him? Is Mr. Hollington now or has he ever been employed by MI6 or any other intelligence agency?

Mr. Hollington fairly described the "conspiracy" of US government/business interests to assassinate Lumumba, and the fact that JFK was pro-Lumumba and might well have "saved" him had he lived. So why is it that only "lone wolves" and lunatics kill politicians in the US?

No doubt Mr. Hollington knows that E. Howard Hunt confessed his role in the JFK hit to his son St. John before his death by cancer in 2004, etc.

Why the endless charade? Why not just tell the people the truth so we can heal and move on? Even the CIA has to look itself in the mirror. Even black operators like Hunt have to meet their maker. How can we build a humane world based on lies?

Maybe the censor can answer.

Sent by Michael | 5:56 PM | 8-11-2008

I missed the first part of the interview, so I did not hear if the author mentioned the fact that the Hinckleys and the Bushes were friends. Did he find this coincidence of any interest?

Sent by Orlando | 6:07 PM | 8-11-2008

There was a plot against Hitler by some of his officers which, had it succeeded, could have spared the world a fair amount of misery. The failed plot has been the subject of numerous re-creations in movies and on television. I quess my question is this: had this plot succeeded in assassinating Hitler, wouldn't their names be known by history and revered by students of history ? Of the tools available for effecting political change assassination is one of many.; it just depends on which side of the political fence you're on.

Sent by bryan | 6:37 PM | 8-11-2008

I'm glad to see so many comments about my book and that there is such an interest in this fascinating topic.

I'd like to respond to Michael by making it clear that I have never been employed by MI6 or any intelligence agency (unless you count the Sunday Times)!

The JFK assassination is an extremely sensitive subject and while I realize lots of people believe that Oswald could not have acted alone, my point is that there is no solid evidence to say otherwise - otherwise we wouldn't be having this discussion.

I would advise anyone interested in this topic to make a study of the book Four Days in November, by Vincent Bugliosi.

I've read with interest Hunt's testimony but it simply doesn't add up to much. Don't get me wrong, conspiracies do exist, without doubt - many are examined in my book - but there is simply not the evidence to state clearly that someone other than Oswald killed JFK - or that someone was working with Oswald to kill JFK.

Bryan, you're absolutely right with your point with regards to Hitler. The attempt which receives little attention but deserves a book of its own is that of Johann George Elser who came within a whisker in 1939. Do look him up on wikipedia.

Geri, you'll be interested to know that Sarah Jane Moore and Lynette Fromme (who also tried to shoot Ford) are discussed in my book and do fit in with the typology outlined in the Secret Service study - apart from one very obvious factor!

Orlando, the fascinating Bush/Hinckley connection is also discussed in my book.

Please do feel free to continue the debate via my website where you can mail me directly and I'll be in New York in September/October giving talks on assassinations at various locations. Check my website for more info.

Sent by Kris Hollington | 6:01 PM | 8-12-2008

I just finished listening to your interview via the web, regarding the author's belief that political assassins (including Oswald) are loners, act alone, and rarely have a political agenda. Apparently your guest "expert" is not familiar with the history of the Lincoln assassination in which a politically motivated group believed to be conspring with Boothe were hung and imprisoned. Likewise, had he only followed the network news during the last 2 weeks, he would have seen the latest confirmed FOIA disclosure that Gerald Ford was secretly warning the FBI that the Warren Commssioners didn't really believe the "Oswald acted alone" story being promoted to the public. Really, this guest was not up to NPR's ordinarily high standards. Surely NPR could have done a little basic fact checking before the interview and challenged him on air, rather than letting some in the audience think this author was an NPR certified expert. NPR listeners are too well read not to see thru this type of disinformation. I don't want to suggest that your guest was being intentionally misleading, but rather that his research consisted of merely repeating what he'd read in other commercial books in order to write his own. Either way, I couldn't understand how he got on NPR, and why he wasn't challenged during the interview for some glaring oversights.

Hopefully, NPR will book another guest who has done more current, and original source research on the subject. I appreciate having this opportunity to comment.

Sent by Ralph Q | 2:44 PM | 8-13-2008

I just finished listening to this interview, and reading the posts. I wish NPR would put on an academic (History Professor ) who had done more recent research into this subject. It's an interesting topic but the info shared by this author is old and outdated, which appears to be based on the work of other authors repeating outdated and repeated info. Your author did not appear to be familiar with the latest historical research concerning False Flag operations, US Government attempts to assassinate Castro, the CIA's Operation MockingBird, MKULTRA, the ARRB, the HSCA, or any other well documented revelations (most of it confirmed thru Congressional testimony and declassified documents) that don't support the "lone nut" non-political portrayal that your guest espoused. I agree with the above post that the declassified Operation Northwoods documents (a plan rejected by the JFK admin. just before his death) would be an interesting place to start. Unfortunately, simply reading the regurgitated reports of other authors (such as Bugliosi's) just re-infects the public with the same outdated "Blue Ribbon Commission" government supplied official information. There's lots of new material that your guest just didn't seem to know, or was unwilling to acknowledge. I'd like to suggest that NPR book a real historian that can discuss the above subjects, and how they relate to the subject of assassins.

Sent by Bob Simpson | 4:38 PM | 8-13-2008

Perplexed by the debate here I took the author's advice and went to his website. It seems to lean towards being a conspiracy debunking website, which is fine, but I wish that NPR or the author had been more upfront in telling us that this was his agenda. It seemed during the interview and his posting above that Mr. Hollington was reluctant to "consider" any information that didn't first support his lone gunman scenario. On his site- "Life's too short to consider the impossibilities put forward by conspiracists" was one of many statemtents I found there indicating that your guest is reluctant to 'consider' facts which don't back up his thesis. I have no problem with his appearance on your show, as long as NPR gives us a heads up concerning the author's angle.

Being a guest in our country, perhaps Mr. H. didn't realize that, unlike other venues, many NPR listeners are avid history students. It's no secret that our well meaning CIA spent years working with Cubans and the Mafia to assassinate Fidel Castro, and other Latin American leaders during the 50s and beyond. How does that fit into your guest's lone nut assassin profile conclusion? Lincoln too was a politically motivated conspiracy. It's history, not a conspiracy theory. Please NPR, a little more due diligence and full disclosure in the future regarding guest bias. Mr. Hollington is a good story teller, but he's not an historian.

Sent by Rick | 8:44 PM | 8-13-2008

Good subject NPR. But I've learned more about this subject from the online discussion forum you provide here than I did from the author and the interview itself. Doing online research, the references from your listeners checked out, many of the author's did not. In particular his sweeping Lone Gunman with No Political Agenda conclusion. I'm no expert but the author seems slightly offbase. It's apparent that he has excluded many well known assassination plots, covert government operations, and assassinations commited by/with organized crime in order to prop up his Apolitical Lone Wolf conclusion. Please NPR, more on this subject, but from experts who have not excluded entire classifications of well known and documented assassins in order to support weak and suspicious conclusions. No doubt some assassins are troubled loners, but clearly many are governments and criminal organizations. It's hard for me to believe that your guest/writer was unable to locate that information.

Sent by Bob C - California | 3:17 PM | 8-14-2008

The ZR/Rifle (assassination) program operated out of Miami during the 60's would be a good example of a well documented systematic assassination operation. President Johnson famously referred to ZR/Rifle and Operation Mongoose as "...a damn Murder Incorporated....". Also last year's widely publicized radiation poisoning (assassination) of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko was, according to London police, the work of a complex plot to assassinate Russian political dissidents. And the US government spent years denying public access to Oswald's tax records and Army/Navy Intelligence files, which might explain the lack of hard information available on Oswald. Army Intelligence and FBI (James Hosty) have testified under oath that Oswald documents were ordered destroyed after the assassination. Nevertheless, the House Assassination Committee concluded JFK most likely was killed as part of a conspiracy. Hopefully, Mr. Hollington and Mr. Bugliosi will issue updated books someday including research information made available AFTER 1964. I'll look forward to reading it.

Sent by Richard Barnes | 6:29 PM | 8-14-2008

Goodness me! I'm not saying that all assassins are lone-wolves, that would be ridiculous. My book covers all kinds of assassinations and the political conspiracies behind them including the dozens of CIA conspiracies to kill Castro, the plans of MK-ULTRA and Sydney Gottlieb, the US backed assassination of Patrice Lumumba and the conspiracy to kill Martin Luther King amongst many dozens of others. Sometimes assassinations are carried out by lone wolves but of course governments, government agencies, criminals, businesses have all plotted and executed successful assassinations!

Sent by Kris Hollington | 7:52 AM | 8-15-2008

Roman emperor Julius Caesar, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, both killed by conspiracies (or a coincidence of lone nuts striking simultaneously if you don't believe in conspiracies). In 2005 Christian televangelist Pat Robertson broadcast a call for the CIA to assassinate Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. It's not surprising that the guest author didn't know anything about the destruction of the Oswald documents or his newly confirmed links to US intelligence. If the guest had studied anything to do with the history of assassinations, he would never have tried to sell them as the primary domain of loners, or Oswald as the lone assassin. His web site is clear enough. In his refusal to "to consider the impossibilities put forward by conspiracists" he's read little released beyond 1964 other than Bugliosi's reprinting of the Warren Report. Fortunately the declassified docs and audio recordings are available on the web to anyone, and several good researchers are authoring summaries of them, including the most shocking of them all, Operation Northwoods.

Sent by R.S. - Portland Oregon | 4:37 PM | 8-15-2008

I agree. Any author or supposed expert who still claims that there is no evidence that anyone other than Oswald was involved in the assassination and/or cover-up of the JFK matter has not done his homework. The latest papers and released audio recordings leave no doubt that there was a much bigger, and still untold story there. (One example to add to those above- see Washington Post articles on ARRB study of missing and altered JFK autopsy photos in the National Archives-Something Oswald could not have done, anymore than he could have ordered the withholding and later destruction of his ONI, ArmyI and FBI records). It's no longer just a Conspiracy Theory, and the public is no longer at the mercy of lazy 'copy and paste authors' like Bugliosi. The ORIGINAL recordings, docs and sworn testimony are available now to anyone on the web willing to take the time to study them. Fortutnately NPR listeners are good at that because this author didn't bother, relying instead on Bugliosi, who also didn't bother.

Sent by Susan S. | 6:25 PM | 8-18-2008

In defense of Hollington, who's taken quite a beating here, his book is NOT an exclusive argument against conspiracies. I looked it over at a book store and, in spite of his web site and interview comments wich are seemingly dismissive of conspiracy evidence, the book does acknowledge them to some extent just as he claims. And the book seems interesting. Unfortunatley I have to agree that his treatment of the JFK-Oswald history is almost wholely innacurate and out of date. Excluded is the newly disclosed Oswald intelligence links and illegal shredding of his files, the autopsy witnesses that have come forward, Warren Commission staff regrets over their report, and the Northwoods request to JFK that he authorize the public murders of US citizens (and accompanied framing of a communist/Cuban sympathsizer)in order to motivate the public for war. It seems the author, on this issue at least, relied on other authors for his research, and was completely taken in by Bugliosi. I don't know how accurate he was on other issues and claims throughout the book, but his complete reliance on another author for his Oswald analysis caused me to question his research methods, and I decided to forego a purchase for now. I have to agree, the Oswald thing was a big credibility hit for him, in what might otherwise have been a good piece of work. I'm just a little uncomfortable now about the accuracy and motivations in the rest of his claims.

Sent by James Fish - Virginia | 7:56 PM | 8-18-2008

From reading the above it seems that listener trust in the author was damaged partly over his adamant 'Oswald did it alone' interview conclusion. In his post above he defends that position arguing that "...there is simply not the evidence to state clearly that someone other than Oswald killed JFK..." In statistics classes and law school I learned that "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence", particularly when the suspect in the crime is caught hiding or destroying the evidence. The problem with the author's faith in the lack of Oswald exculpatory documentation is that the government has spent years withholding Oswald related documents, and has been caught destroying other documents. That action destroys the government's credibility, and their defenders' attempts to credibly argue that the "lack of exculpatory evidence is itself proof of the absence of such evidence." To the contrary in this case. Were this a criminal case against any ordinary citizen, the prosecutor would point out that the accused suspect's attempts to hide and destroy evidence (as the government has apparently done here) was evidence of their complicity in the crime. Had Oswald ever been granted a trial, and then had all his documents and discovery requests denied by the government (or locked up by the Warren Commission), I'm sure his defense attorney would have pointed out the absurdity of the prosecutor's 'absence of evidence' argument. The author needs to rethink that argument (along with his reliance upon other authors for his research) if he wants to be taken seriously. Just a suggestion.

Sent by Zach B | 10:54 PM | 8-18-2008

In the first post above, Scott asks "What I'm not so sure of is this fascination with assassins..." I would explain that the interest for some of us lies not in the assassins themselves, but a pattern from the Roman empire to today of changing emperors and governments through politically motivated assassinations, and the creation of cover stories (like the lone nut) to protect the killers' identities and mislead the populace. Media complicity and motivations in cooperating with these disinformation campaigns (such as the Oswald story)is of equal interest. The little known history of those journalists who participate in the CIA's Operation Mockingbird makes for an even more interesting story. Those citizens who don't know their history (such as the Northwoods/JFK assassination connection) are doomed to repeat it. Not knowing our history leaves us vulnerable to being led into war by false claims, and to having our government leadership changed thru illegal means, by conspirators who are confident in their ability to control access to public files, the outcome of official investigations and the information the public receives. Mr. Hollington, as did Mr. Bugliosi, had a chance to educate and benefit the public by pulling the cover off the cover stories, but they did not. It's not the trigger pulling assassin themselves that interest us, it's the groups that give the order to fire and those authors who obligingly spread the lone nut cover story, even long after that cover story has unraveled. Fascinating stuff, and an ugly business.

Sent by Bob Barlow - Arizona | 5:43 PM | 8-19-2008

I started looking up the references in this discussion forum and have been shocked by what I've found. I don't know anyone who knew we could now listen to the White House recordings made after the assassination. If what I heard is real, I heard Johnson and Russell discussing publication of an 'Oswald acted alone' report that they both acknowledged was a fabrication. Discussions to destroy Oswald/FBI payment evidence. LBJ assuring Russell the warren comm didn't need to do a real investigation. I had no idea the military had asked kennedy for permission to kill americans and frame a communist or cuban. Oswald documents destroyed or withheld from the warren commission and Congress. I saw the Washington Post reports on faked autopsy photos mentioned above. So why is this guy Hollington so sure Oswald was alone? It seems even the principle actors didn't think he was.

Sent by Frank Kowalski | 1:10 AM | 8-20-2008

At first I didn't understand Michael's posting asking the author "has he ever been employed by MI6 or any other intelligence agency?" And I did not understand Hollington's denial. But until now I had no clue that the classified WarrenC recordings and papers were available and online, or about Northwoods and Mockingbird. Now I've seen it, heard it, and now I get it. Sort of puts a new light on blue ribbon presidential commissions and book authors. So who is Hollington really and why is he out pushing the Oswald-Did-It fiction? With the advent of google and blogs, author claims are getting pretty easy to check out. Is he Mockingbird or did he just fail to do his homework? Does anybody know? I don't get it.

Thanks for the blog site NPR. Pretty enlightning.

Sent by DaveT | 4:08 PM | 8-20-2008

I've been wondering the same thing. I found some interviews where he appears to be making fun of people who believe in a JFK conspiracy. Best insight I found is his own website where he unmasks his agenda Little mention there of the new public research releases. Instead, he actually tries to discourage readers from doing thorough JFK research. In his Book Review section he says "I would urge anyone interested in the Kennedy assassination to read Four Days and nothing else. Life's too short to consider the impossibilities put forward by conspiracists." Nothing else? Four Days is another Oswald-did-it-Alone anti conspiracy book. What type of legitimate expert discourages balance and his students from engaging in thorough research and debate? How can anyone claim to know a subject by restricting him/herself to just 1 book? His web site's Link section has few links, but 1 is to a website dedicated to debunking the JFK conspiracy-McCadams site(which he describes as a "refreshingly level headed JFK site"). I don't know who K.H. is, but he's certainly not an historian or a legitimate jounalist. He's transparently avoided the newest JFK materials, and he seems dedicated to making sure that no one else examines them either by directing readers away from the original source documents and recordings. Apparently, revealing that the Warren Commissioners and the president didn't believe the Oswald/loner story doesn't fit in with the mission these guys have. But who these guys are really working for or what motivates them to discourage open inquiry and further research is something I don't know. One thing is for sure. By crudely trying to steer the public away from more recent relevant evidence, Hollington has managed to do the same thing the WarrenC did, stimulate continued belief in conspiracy and draw cynical suspicions to himself.

Sent by S.K. Laurel - Nebraska | 4:50 PM | 8-21-2008

From what I could find he thinks of himself as a professional crime investigator/writer. And I gather from his performance here, one who sees nothing wrong with the government declaring suspects like Oswald guilty without trial, with the government withholding and destroying the suspect's records, and with the government's (echo'd by Hollington) subsequent declaration that "there is simply not the evidence" to prove the innocence of the accused suspect. Evidently no red flags there for this author. Quite the thorough crime investigator. Really digs deep for the truth. Must be a real investigative asset for Scotland Yard.

Sent by R. G. Robinson - Florida | 8:28 PM | 8-21-2008

Topic Suggestion Note to NPR: Your listener comment page has shown it's worth here. From reading the listener comments above it's clear that web connected NPR listener research has exposed a credibility problem with author Hollington. In today's web connected/google world, it's easy to fact check the claims of authors, and other self styled "experts" in a way that was not possible in the past. In this case, the author may not have realized that previously secret Warren Commission, CIA, FBI and presidential library records on Oswald had been released and placed on line for public review, undermining the official 1964 Gov. (and Bugliosi) reports, which the author relied upon for his conclusions.

Question- So, has the fact-checked-ready web changed the environment and risks for authors and publishing houses? Have other authors been exposed doing sloppy research or lying? How many author errors or frauds have been publically exposed? How has reader access to the web and instant fact-checking changed the business of publishing? Is the reader/consumer ability to fact-check cleansing the business of publishing, or is it having no effect?

Thanks again for the TOTN Blog.

Sent by Ralph Q | 4:00 PM | 8-25-2008