I haven't seen the movie "Parkland" yet. It may or may not be any good. But I'm grateful that it led to the publisher finally releasing an unabridged version of this masterful account of the Kennedy assasination.
The history of the book is interesting in itself. Vincent Bugliosi originally published a 1500 page book about the assasination, a book that took him some 20 years to write and which included this enthralling narrative as the first part. (The book would have been even longer, but the publishers decided to put the voluminous notes on an accompanying CD.) The other parts of the book described the various investigations into the assassination, official and unofficial, and it dissected the various conspiracy theories in excruciating detail. Later, the opening narrative was released as a standalone book, which was then adapted into the movie. That standalone section is what we have here.
Bugliosi sticks scrupulously to observable, documented fact in this account. For example, at the moment of the assassination, he doesn't tell us what Oswald was doing. What he tells us is what two of the eyewitneeses saw (a man firing from the sixth floor window in the School Book Depository). Later he describes the lineups where they identified Oswald as the man. Readers can draw their own conclusions.
Of course there's no question where Bugliosi stands. With a few adjustments, he supports the Warren Commission findings pretty much straight down the line. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that he supports the conclusions of the Dallas police department, especially Will Fritz's homicide squad: they methodically and painstakingly built the case against Oswald in the two days following the assassination. Of particular interest in the narrative are the reconstructions of the interrogations of Oswald. Step by step, the detectives work through his denials; they never got him to confess, but it's hard to read this account without admiring their work.
I know that by saying that, I'm opening myself up to ridicule by those who remain convinced that Kennedy was murdered by a vast conspiracy. Been there, done that. I've read many of the books published on both sides of the issue, and over the years I've come to the conclusion that when it comes to misrepresentation, credulity, and disingenuously taking things out of context, there's plenty of blame to go around. I've gradually surrendered my own conspiracy theories - partly because of the vigorous arguments put forward by Bugliosi in the parent volume to this book.
I also love Oliver Stone's "JFK." It's a great movie, one of the best I've ever seen. But "JFK" is art; "Parkland" - at least the book - is history.
A note about the narration. George Newbern does an excellent job. He gives distinctive voices to the different people involved, usually by suggestion rather than outright mimicry - a series of impressionistic portraits rather than impressions. One voice in particular deserves comment: Newbern nails Oswald. It's not just the twang, not just the inflection; it's the arrogance, the evasiveness, the buried fear, the sense of a deeply damaged man. I haven't heard Newbern before, but I definitely want to hear him again.
This is the first modern biography of Henry VII, and it is long overdue. Penn does an excellent job of pulling together the complicated story of Henry's reign, its improbable and contested beginning, and its tragedies and betrayals. Henry is a difficult man to sympathize with, which perhaps explains the dearth of biographers, but the strains and disappointments of his reign explain a good deal about the subsequent Tudor preoccupations with legitimacy, continental standing, and continuity. This should satisfy both serious history students and those wishing for a general introduction to Tudor England. The narrator is quite good, as well.