More about the most famous, or infamous, loner of the twentieth century.
This week I finally finished reading the 651 pages of The People v. Lee Harvey Oswald, by Walt Brown.
A one-time FBI agent who went back to school to become a history professor, Brown says that since he was a boy he what he really wanted was to be a lawyer. When Oswald, just arrested, famously said live on TV, “I’m just a patsy here,” the world was put on notice that he had an important story to tell. Hearing that, Walt Brown says he immediately wished he could be Oswald’s lawyer.
But Oswald was quickly assassinated, making sure that there would be no trial. The mainstream media and the Warren Commission then combined to convict Oswald without a trial.
That’s when Brown got the idea of writing this book in which Oswald would get his trial.
The fictional trial, constructed with real evidence of real witnesses, much of it from the official Warren Commission report, is an eye-opener.
For example, although I’ve been following the JFK mystery on and off all my life, I was not aware of how many planted witnesses there appear to have been. I won’t even try to propose why they existed. Their evidence breaks down under cross-examination, and you, the reader, are left in mid-air, realizing once again how suspicious this whole event was.
Walter Brown is not a novelist, so I suppose it isn’t surprising that the trial is sometimes slow-moving. But Brown, I’m sure, would reply that this is not your every-day novel. This is about a trial that never happened, that needs to be reconstructed in detail.
The characters – Oswald’s lawyer, the prosecutor, the judge, etc, are depicted well, and the legal chess game they play is entertaining. Sadly, for some reason, Oswald almost never speaks. Admittedly, in criminal trials lawyers often don’t let their client’s take the stand, but he hardly talks to his lawyer or anyone else, when he had so much to say; and what we know of his personality suggests that he wouldn’t have been shy about saying it.
But then there are the witnesses. There are a lot of them, and they have so much to say, and it’s taken from real testimony, much of it compelling, but never examined this way by other books. This is the treasure in this book, page after page.
Not to mention the supplementary pages with intriguing copies of pages from the Dallas police reports, the official autopsy, etc.
If you haven’t yet joined this quest for the truth about the fate of JFK that many of us are still on, there is no better place to start than The People v. Lee Harvey Oswald.