Storied political operative, DC insider and Trump confidante Roger Stone is the author (with Mike Colapietro) of The Man Who Killed Kennedy, a tour de force of allegations and evidence that pins much of the blame, logistics and political muscle of the 22 November 1963 assassination of US president John F. Kennedy on vice-president Lyndon Johnson’s broad Texan shoulders.
Stone paints VP Johnson as a uniquely unsavoury character (he is hardly alone in this) – a serial philanderer, a back-room hustler bathed in a withering degree of corruption, a “crude, corrupt, sadistic, unprincipled psychopath.”
Stone salaciously recounts innumerable sordid escapades, scams and a litany of alleged murders from Johnson’s lengthy and colourful career in politics.
In the smoky labyrinth of the Kennedy assassination, Stone charts a clear nexus that links elements of the CIA, FBI, Secret Service, mob and Texan Big Oil with Lyndon Johnson – the circling Brutus to Kennedy’s Caesar.
Enveloped in evolving graft and corruption scandals that threatened to swallow him at any moment (many stealthily fertilised or shepherded by Kennedy’s brother, attorney general Bobby Kennedy) – by Stones’ telling Johnson had the ultimate, immutable and eternal twin motives of survival and power.
The book describes Johnson’s early years, buying his way into the US Senate in 1948 through a systematic campaign of violence and bribery that earned him the ironic epitaph ‘Landslide Lyndon’ (Johnson came from far behind to eventually ‘win’ the race by just a handful of votes).
Stone also catalogues Lyndon Johnson’s calculating usage of his political position to direct funding and appropriations largesse toward his allies and his own back pocket.
Time and time again, a rotating cast of bagmen deliver obscene amounts of cash from defence contractors, land developers and cronies to lubricate the Johnson political machine – a veritable fiscal printing press where political favours were bought and sold on the subterranean market.
By 1960 Johnson was keen to grasp the greatest prize, the presidency, but was outmanoeuvred by the nimble Kennedy team in the Democratic Party primaries.
Leviathan blackmail methods secured Johnson the Democratic vice-presidential nomination as his right-hand man Bobby Baker noted on Inauguration Day that Kennedy “will not live out his term and he will die a violent death.”
Come November 1963 an ocean of sharks circled the embattled Kennedy. After the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and a slew of other (less remembered) incidents, JFK was essentially at war with the Pentagon, the CIA and what today is called the Deep State.
Kennedy threatened to “splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds,” a declaration that many feel sealed his fate.
Stone has mined the best of the Kennedy assassination literature (James Douglass, Vincent Salandria, Saint John Hunt et. al.) to construct a convincing narrative and timeline of Johnson as the figurehead and executor that united a grand coalition of dark state forces against JFK.
He marshals E. Howard Hunt’s reported death-bed confession to his son and the controversial accounts of a late-night party in Dallas attended by J. Edgar Hoover, Johnson and others prior to the assassination. Present are both the KGB’s and Jack Ruby’s insinuations of LBJ’s guilt.
But perhaps the most fascinatingly chilling moments here are those that Stone treats blithely – his intimate recollections of unguarded personal moments spent with iconic political figure Richard Nixon – who casually drops the line,
“Both Johnson and I wanted to be president, but the only difference was I wouldn’t kill for it.” Highly recommended. – David Thrussell
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