why does stephen king believe mailer and posner that oswald acted alone?

I'VE JUST FINISHED 11/22/63, Stephen King's re­cent novel. Pub­lished in 2011, it is a mod­ern fan­tasy whose 'gimme' is un­ex­plained, mag­i­cal time-travel. In fact, the con­cept of walk­ing into a small room and find­ing a gate­way into an­other world is as old as, well — Nar­nia it­self!

The ti­tle of the novel should give away the des­ti­na­tion of the time-traveling pro­tag­o­nist: he trav­els back in time to stop Lee Har­vey Os­wald from shoot­ing Pres­i­dent Kennedy.

So, if you have not seen The Shin­ing, go di­rectly to Net­flix, do not pass Go, do not col­lect $200, and or­der a copy of the Kubrick film and watch it!

But the magic steps in the ag­ing restau­rant that lead down­ward from the present into the past only takes him to one place and one time in 1958. So, he has to live there and wait more than four years, de­vel­op­ing a per­sona, a life, and a ca­reer.

I need to make some­thing clear here: I am not a big fan of Mr. King's. This is not the first King novel that I have read: I en­joyed The Shin­ing. My ini­tial re­sponse to read­ing that book was that it read like the first draft of a tal­ented writer of first drafts.

That is, I was im­pressed with King's raw abil­ity to write, but not im­pressed with the what I per­ceived as a very dis­tinct lack of pol­ish­ing and ed­i­to­r­ial over­sight.

Nicholson steals every scene in Kubrick's movie

I also thought the book would make a good movie: The Shin­ing is one of those rare in­stances where I thought the movie adap­ta­tion was bet­ter than the book. Of course, when you have a di­rec­tor like Stan­ley Kubrick and an ac­tor like Jack Nichol­son at the peak of their pow­ers and work­ing to­gether, magic can hap­pen. And it did with the movie ver­sion of The Shin­ing.

How did Pvt. Lee Os­wald learn to be­come flu­ent in such a dif­fi­cult lan­guage as Russ­ian in so short a pe­riod of time in such a hush-hush en­vi­ron­ment?

Nichol­son is at his scene-stealing best: the fa­mous “Here's Johnny!” scene is also no­table for just how per­versely in­sane he makes his char­ac­ter (John 'Jack' Tor­rance) ap­pear. And Shel­ley Du­vall as Wendy Tor­rance — and who ap­pears de­ter­mined to un­der­mine her bud­ding act­ing ca­reer through most of the movie — gives one of the best per­for­mances of a truly fright­ened hu­man be­ing ever cap­tured on film!

I at­tempted to read sev­eral other King nov­els; I think I started Cujo and Chris­tine but never fin­ished them. I know I got mid­way through Tom­my­knock­ers—love the part when they first find a por­tion of the gi­gan­tic saucer stick­ing up out of the ground.

But mid­way is about it for me and Mr. King. He re­ally knows how to write a premise that sucks the reader into the book with great early chap­ters. But, I al­ways felt let down by the sec­ond half of his books.



"Heeeeere's Johnny!" Nuff said?

Nonetheless, I am a sucker for time-travel stories 

This was my re­sponse to 11/22/63: great be­gin­ning, catch­ing my at­ten­tion im­me­di­ately and hold­ing it through 500 pages. I em­pathized with the pro­tag­o­nist Jake Ep­ping and the un­cer­tain sit­u­a­tions in which he found him­self. I liked his girl­friend and wanted them to make it! I also liked the two older friends that he made in the school where he was teach­ing (and re­mem­ber, he was teach­ing in his own past).

But the method of travel is a mag­i­cal door­way from one world to an­other, no dif­fer­ent than the wardrobe that bridges Earth with Nar­nia.

Like the afore­men­tioned King nov­els, the lat­ter part of the book did not hold up as well, lead­ing to a less than sat­is­fy­ing con­clu­sion — at least to me.

Now, the rea­son why I took an­other go at a Stephen King novel is that I am a sucker for time-travel sto­ries, and this is a time-travel story. It is a fan­tasy, granted, and one that takes place in con­tem­po­rary re­al­ity with re­peated flights back to a pre­cise date in 1958.

But the method of travel is a mag­i­cal door­way from one world to an­other, no dif­fer­ent than the wardrobe that bridges Earth with Nar­nia. This is not a com­plaint: it could have been a mir­ror (as in Lewis Carroll's Through The Look­ing Glass) or a closet (the pre­vi­ously men­tion The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis).

Hell's Belles, it could have been a leg­endary psy­che­delic mush­room in the rain forests of Yu­catan (as with Lewis Shiner's De­serted Cities Of the Heart), and it would have worked for me. As I said, I am a sucker for time-travel sto­ries.



A well writ­ten, ex­cep­tional adult fan­tasy ru­ined by flawed source ma­te­r­ial.

The case against Oswald is not closed

The other at­trac­tive fea­ture of 11/22/63 is that I am a bit of a Kennedy 'as­sas­si­na­tion buff' — what those of us who re­ject the War­ren Commission's conspiracy-less (sic) the­ory used to be called un­til they came up with the pe­jo­ra­tive 'con­spir­acy the­o­rist' — and can usu­ally tell whether or not a writer has done his home­work on this topic.

While read­ing King's take on the No­vem­ber 22, 1963, I got the dis­tinct im­pres­sion that King's pri­mary ref­er­ence for the as­sas­si­na­tion was Ger­ald Posner's Case Closed, while Nor­man Mailer's Oswald's Tale was the go-to book for his de­pic­tion of Lee Os­wald as an in­se­cure, vi­o­lent so­cio­pathic per­son­al­ity. Need­less to say, I do not con­sider ei­ther of these books to be help­ful in un­der­stand­ing the events of this day . . .

I do not con­sider ei­ther of Mailer or Posner's book to be help­ful in un­der­stand­ing the events of No­vem­ber 22, 1963.

The nar­ra­tive of the novel is told in such a man­ner that the ques­tion of who killed JFK on No­vem­ber 22, 1963, re­mains unan­swered. King's 'so­lu­tion' was vague enough that, if you are one of the few left who be­lieve that Os­wald acted alone, you would be pleased with the out­come.

If, on the other hand, you are one of the ma­jor­ity of opinion-holders in the world that be­lieves that there was more than one shooter, the out­come is vague enough to leave you guess­ing King's as­sess­ment of that day.

Un­for­tu­nately, Mr. King in­cluded an af­ter­word that should never have been al­lowed into the book. King ac­knowl­edges both Mailer and Posner's work among his main sources of in­for­ma­tion, which is at least half hi­lar­i­ous, given the cur­rent sta­tus of Ger­ald Pos­ner.

This caused me to re­flect back­wards and read into the novel's seem­ing vague­ness a def­i­nite state­ment by King about that day of in­famy. Oh well, as the Rolling Stones once said, “What a shame, noth­ing seems to be go­ing right . . .”



If you get 100 peo­ple to­gether who "know" that Os­wald acted alone be­cause of their re­search, you will find two things are al­ways true: they are all Re­pub­li­cans, and their re­search con­sists of hav­ing read this one book.

A paranoid sociopath who teaches himself fluent Russian

Us­ing Mailer, King's al­most com­pletely deroga­tory por­trayal of Os­wald as a vain, self-absorbed, pos­si­bly stu­pid, and eas­ily mis­led per­son. Which, of course, fails to ac­count for how a 17-year old high school dropout who en­listed in the US Marines wran­gled an as­sign­ment to a top se­cret radar base in Japan that mon­i­tored the even more se­cret U2 air­planes that were il­le­gally coast­ing high above the Russ­ian ter­ri­to­ries. Spy­ing on So­viet mil­i­tary and man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions.

And the story and the co­in­ci­dences get weirder and more pro­lific: ac­cord­ing to his fel­low Marines, the only books he was ever seen read­ing were by Karl Marx, the Fa­ther of Mod­ern Com­mu­nism.

Now, many in­ves­ti­ga­tors write this off — a US Ma­rine on as­sign­ment off the coast of the USSR at the height of the Cold War trotzky­ing, er, trot­ting around the base car­ry­ing ANY book would have called at­ten­tion to him­self, let alone the pre­sumed bible of the en­emy — which, of course, if Lee was more than a mere grunt, this may have been his ex­act in­ten­tion.

Nor does King ex­plain how this im­be­cilic (“What, me worry?”) jar­head was able to learn to read and speak damn near flu­ent Russ­ian with­out a teacher while on that top se­cret as­sign­ment in that iso­lated com­pound.



How many work­ing class joes had the tech­ni­cal or fi­nan­cial where­withal to make fake pho­tos of them­selves in 1963? If your an­swer is "I dunno — prob­a­bly none," then it's the same as mine. Now, who did have the tech­ni­cal or fi­nan­cial where­withal to make fake pho­tos of who­ever they chose in 1963? If your an­swer is "I dunno — the FBI?," then it's the same as mine.

It is al­most in­con­ceiv­able that a high-school drop-out of be­low nor­mal in­tel­li­gence learned Russ­ian while on duty at that base. And he cer­tainly didn't learn it at home be­fore en­list­ing! Once you ac­cept that, then only one other con­clu­sion is left you:

Leon Os­wald learned to read and write damn near flu­ent Russ­ian af­ter en­list­ing but be­fore ship­ping out to Japan.

While he was in the Marines.

Ques­tion: What type of Ma­rine was pulled from rank and file and taught Russ­ian at the height of the Cold War?

An­swer this ques­tion cor­rectly and Mr. Os­wald takes on a whole new per­sona and the term con­spir­acy the­ory doesn't sound so, so . . . outré, yes?

So, why does King be­lieve Mailer and Pos­ner that Os­wald acted alone??

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