why does stephen king believe norman mailer and gerald posner? – part 2

Es­ti­mated reading time is 9 min­utes.

EVEN A CURSORY READ of the facts (“Just the facts, ma’am”) and not some­one’s opin­ions will re­veal a mass of data that would lead anyone free of as­sump­tions to as­sume that things just don’t add up. In 11/22/63, King does not deal with these in­con­sis­ten­cies, con­tra­dic­tions, and con­tro­ver­sies sur­rounding the ev­i­dence or lack thereof. 

Not that I ex­pect that to be a part of the nar­ra­tive, but it is a part of the back­ground and should be con­sid­ered. For ex­ample, the paraffin test given Os­wald to un­cover any ni­trites from the gun­powder in­di­cated that he had not fired a rifle in the pre­ceding 24 hours! So, if that is so, then Leon was not a shooter, let alone the shooter.

Or the rel­a­tively well-known con­tro­versy sur­rounding the pos­si­bility that the so-called murder weapon was de­void of prints when first ex­am­ined by the au­thor­i­ties. This is noted in Oliver Stone’s movie JFK.

Or fact that the rifle found by the three Dallas po­lice of­fi­cers who were first on the scene in the sniper’s lair in the Book De­pos­i­tory was specif­i­cally iden­ti­fied by those of­fi­cers as a German 7.65 Mauser. That would in­di­cate a con­spiracy after the fact, again al­tering King’s background.

(And the saga of the three cops and the German-made rifle is worthy of a book and a movie by it­self. More on this below . . .)

These are both telling pieces of in­for­ma­tion that were con­ve­niently over­looked by Posner, and there­fore by King. Oh well, as someone once fa­mous once said, “So it goes . . .”



The as­sassin or the patsy? Whichever, the Dallas po­lice beat him up, some­thing never men­tioned by anyone.


Oswald confessed to being the patsy

Out­side of Os­wald’s Tale, the re­ported com­ings and go­ings of Lee Os­wald weave a in­triguing, if baf­fling, story, and could lead any reader to con­clude that he was ex­actly what he claimed to be—the patsy. If so, he was the center of a com­plex se­ries of events (yes, yes, the con­spiracy) and there­fore the Rosetta Stone to un­der­standing what hap­pened that day. In the eyes of people like Oliver Stone what hap­pened on No­vember 22, 1963 still res­onates in the present, fifty years after the fact.

(Since I men­tioned filmmaker/director Oliver Stone and hinted at the an­i­mosity piled upon him by rightwing pun­dits, I want to re­it­erate that his movie JFK was so loathed by the righties that po­lit­ical colum­nists sud­denly be­came movie critics and ripped his film to pieces in their columns. Like I said, these guys . . . they hate him! This de­spite the fact that at the age of 21, he en­listed in the Army to serve his country, re­questing combat duty in Vietnam!

During his tour of duty in Vietnam, Mr. Stone earned a Bronze Star for heroism in ground combat, an Air Medal for combat mis­sions in a he­li­copter, a Purple Heart for being wounded in combat, and the Army Com­men­da­tion Medal for mer­i­to­rious ser­vice. Sounds like the type of guy the righties should be run­ning for of­fice, yes?)

Os­wald stated that “I don’t know what this is all about . . . I’m just a patsy.” Why did Os­wald claim to be a patsy? For the lone gunman the­o­rists, that’s an ob­vious lie, an at­tempt to turn at­ten­tion away from him­self. To con­spiracy the­o­rists, it was as close to a con­fes­sion as Lee Os­wald was al­lowed to utter.

But what if the I’m-just-a-patsy state­ment was ac­tu­ally a re­al­iza­tion that oc­curred to him at the mo­ment of his ar­rest. That, up to that point, Os­wald thought of him­self as a player in a play for which he knew his part, his script—to get a job at the Book De­pos­i­tory and make all his shifts—but knew no one else’s part nor the di­rec­tion of the script . . .

Could not his al­most im­me­diate ar­rest after the shooting tell him and him alone the truth: that his role in the play was to be the right person at the wrong place at the right time—or any other con­fig­u­ra­tions of that cliché you want?

I don’t know, and nei­ther do most re­searchers! A few on each side of the ar­gu­ment be­lieve they do know—although each is for­mu­lating an opinion based on ex­trap­o­la­tion and spec­u­la­tion, not on facts, as there are none.



Mauser or Mannlicher-Carcano? Which is which and which was found where?

So many things happened that day

My time spent reading books on the events of that day lead me to one con­clu­sion: the word “as­sas­si­na­tion” simply does not ad­e­quately de­scribe every­thing that hap­pened that day. One of the things that I no­ticed was that the lone gunman the­o­rists boiled the whole day down to just that one event: the as­sas­si­na­tion. They worked their course of events around that fact.

But the as­sas­si­na­tion was only one of a myriad of events that day (and the two days fol­lowing) that re­main un­ex­plained. For ex­ample, what hap­pened to the “hobos” who were ar­rested and taken from the scene of the crime and never seen nor heard from again?

 Why was Of­ficer Tippit mur­dered and why were there two sets of bullet cas­ings found at the scene of the crime and did it re­ally have any­thing to do with the bigger crime?

My point is that if one breaks The Day up into the many events that oc­curred in con­nec­tion with the as­sas­si­na­tion, one ends up with a near end­less list of pos­sible trails for fur­ther investigation—a stag­gering number of sit­u­a­tions where ev­i­dence was lost or de­stroyed and eye-witnesses ignored.

One also ends up with a boat­load of the seem­ingly ubiq­ui­tous co­in­ci­dences re­quired by “of­fi­cial” ex­pla­na­tions for the big three ’60s as­sas­si­na­tions and 9/11 (but that’s an­other story.) And these inter-related events is where the con­spir­acists pay at­ten­tion while the Pos­ners and the Mailers ap­par­ently turn their backs . . .




Gosh, they don’t look like the hobos in the movies . . .

What did Posner say about the Mauser?

In 1993, Gerald Pos­ner’s Case Closed re­ceived an ex­tra­or­di­nary amount of cov­erage in the major media, and thereby be­came a big selling title. In fact, the at­ten­tion it re­ceived was way out of pro­por­tion to its im­por­tance in the scheme of things vis-a-vis “as­sas­si­na­tion lit­er­a­ture.” It seemed al­most as though, yes, you guessed it: the Posner book was part of the on­going cover-up!

(How’s that for car­rying things too far? Am I be­coming a bit too much like Mulder at his creepiest? Are you feeling the need to be my Scully right about now?)



Mulder and Scully could have spent sev­eral sea­sons in­ves­ti­gating the day of the as­sas­si­na­tion. Every­thing was there for an X-file but an alien abduction . . .

Un­for­tu­nately, its power and im­por­tance lie in the fact that for many Amer­i­cans, it was the only book on the JFK as­sas­si­na­tion that they had ever read—and would ever read. A friend of mine was such a person. He is a re­li­gious and so­cial con­ser­v­a­tive and that leads him to vote as a po­lit­ical con­ser­v­a­tive. (The book re­ver­ber­ated most strongly with conservatives.)

He of­fered to loan me his copy of the book, sug­gesting that I read it, as it makes clear that Os­wald acted on his own, all alone.

I asked one ques­tion: “What did Posner say about the Mauser?”

He an­swered with one ques­tion: “What Mauser?”

Which would seem to in­di­cate that the case is closed on Case Closed as a se­rious in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the myriad events No­vember 22, 1963.

As I noted ear­lier (above), three Dallas po­lice of­fi­cers ar­rived at the Book De­pos­i­tory within min­utes of the shooting. They found a rifle near the sniper’s lair and iden­ti­fied it as a German 7.65 Mauser, not an Italian 6.5 Mannlicher-Carcano! 



Amaz­ingly, within days of the murder, this Mauser—the rifle that may have ac­tu­ally fired shots at the Pres­i­dent of the United States and the and hit him at least once—was lost. It has not been seen since and, in fact, many claim that it ever existed—that all three of­fi­cers mis­took the German piece for the Italian.

For Posner to over­look this is mind-blowing. And, for me, reason enough to write off his book and not waste my time reading it. Which is what I told my friend, who was baf­fled. As would be anyone who read Case Closed with no other frame of ref­er­ence upon which to judge the au­thor’s eval­u­a­tions and conclusions—and the ev­i­dence he chose to focus on and that which he chose to ignore.

(The story gets even more in­ter­esting: two of the cops even­tu­ally changed their minds—or had their minds changed?—and al­tered their tes­ti­mony to a it-was-an-Italian-rifle-all-along-and-we-all-just-got-it-wrong argument.

Ex­cept one, who adamantly in­sisted that the Mauser they found and iden­ti­fied was just that—a Mauser. And his life be­came a horror show, starting with his being os­tra­cized by his fellow of­fi­cers, his dis­missal from the force in 1967, his being hu­mil­i­ated con­tin­u­ously for sticking to his orig­inal tes­ti­mony, and his even­tual sui­cide in 1975. Need­less to say, that’s an­other story . . .)

What did Mailer say about the Mauser?


11/22/63 could have been a better book if only . . .

King’s not ac­knowl­edging these facts—all such in­con­sis­ten­cies and im­prob­a­bil­i­ties are swept under the um­brella of the dis­mis­sive term con­spiracy theory—is only im­por­tant be­cause of the book’s afterword.

Had he left well enough alone, the nov­el’s story was opaque enough that no ex­pla­na­tions were called for . . . until after reading the afterword.

As fic­tion, 11/22/63 was the best writing that I have ever read by King—even if it cried out for a strong editing hand. There were sev­eral chap­ters where he had a per­fect line or para­graph or oc­cur­rence to close the chapter and start the next one. In­stead, he kept ram­bling on.

The closing of a chapter is as im­por­tant as the opening of a chapter! But he kept on writing after that per­fect line or mo­ment or scene, di­luting the effect.

How the hell did I fit Steve Carlton into this essay?

There’s a story about Steve Carlton, a pitcher so dom­i­nating at his prime that when you said “Lefty”—a common nick­name awarded vir­tu­ally any left-handed player at any po­si­tion in the game—everyone in base­ball and every base­ball fan knew ex­actly who you were talking about!



Carlton be­came so pow­erful a pres­ence on his team, that his man­ager and coaches were afraid to take him out of a game where he clearly was not pitching well.

This caused Lefty to turn wins into losses that handing the ball over to a re­liever would have al­le­vi­ated. It caused his team to lose games that they should have won. It caused one of the great pitchers of the game to turn the few years of his ca­reer into one of dis­ap­point­ment after disappointment.

Strong per­son­al­i­ties often have that ef­fect on others around them. Per­haps King is so dom­i­nating a lit­erary pres­ence that the ed­i­tors as­signed him are afraid to trim the writer’s ex­cesses. Afraid to do ex­haus­tive fact-checking (rarely rel­e­vant in fic­tion but here im­por­tant), or point out to him that the chapter should end a few para­graphs back, etc. Perhaps.

Still, 11/22/63 the novel gets my recommendation

After all this di­gres­sion and me­an­dering, back to the book! So, would I rec­om­mend this book? For a ca­sual read, yes, of course. Why not? It’s a good nar­ra­tive and an en­gaging story for at least 500 pages. And Jake Ep­ping (known as George Am­berson in the past) did en­gage me as a char­acter and the end­less plot twists he had to nav­i­gate his way through kept me wanting more.



I couldn’t re­sist an op­por­tu­nity to slip in a plug for Poul An­der­son’s dashing En­sign Do­minic Flandry, the type of sci­ence fic­tion “hero” that Har­rison Ford should have fought to por­tray in a movie decades ago. Or Pierce Brosnan.

Now, I am going to root through my boxes of books and find some Poul An­derson to sink my mind’s teeth into! Or maybe some Poul Lite with a little En­sign Flandry, any­thing to stop won­dering why why would Stephen King be­lieve Norman Mailer and Gerald Posner . . .

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