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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking, explosive account of the Kennedy assassination that will rewrite the history of the 20th century's most controversial murder investigation. The questions have haunted our nation for half a century: Was the President killed by a single gunman? Was Lee Harvey Oswald part of a conspiracy? Did the Warren Commission discover the whole truth of what happened on November 22, 1963?

Philip Shenon, a veteran investigative journalist who spent most of his career at The New York Times, finally provides many of the answers. Though A Cruel and Shocking Act began as Shenon's attempt to write the first insider's history of the Warren Commission, it quickly became something much larger and more important when he discovered startling information that was withheld from the Warren Commission by the CIA, FBI, and others in power in Washington. Shenon shows how the commission's 10-month investigation was doomed to fail because the man leading it - Chief Justice Earl Warren - was more committed to protecting the Kennedy family than getting to the full truth about what happened on that tragic day.

A taut, narrative, Shenon's audiobook features some of the most compelling figures of the 20th century: Bobby Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, Chief Justice Warren, CIA spymasters Allen Dulles and Richard Helms, as well as the CIA's treacherous "molehunter", James Jesus Angleton.

Based on hundreds of interviews and unprecedented access to the surviving commission staffers and many other key players, Philip Shenon's authoritative, scrupulously researched book will forever change the way we think about the Kennedy assassination and about the deeply flawed investigation that followed.

Includes a prologue read by the author.

©2013 Philip Shenon (P)2013 Macmillan Audio

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    5 out of 5 stars

The best book I have read in a while.

Very good. I learned a lot. I already knew quite a bit. This guy did a lot of research....and he did it well.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Every other conspiracy is false except mine

An interesting account of those who did most of the work for what has become known as the Warren Commission.

4 people found this helpful

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I did a 180!

Would you listen to A Cruel and Shocking Act again? Why?

Yes, there are so many details and historically accurate facts to be heard, reheard, and written down... This is the kind of book you takes notes about. This is a SERIOUS history, not a silly conspiracy book.

What other book might you compare A Cruel and Shocking Act to and why?

Hear No Evil: Social Constructivism and the Forensic Evidence in the Kennedy Assassination

What does Robert Petkoff and Philip Shenon (prologue) bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

They bring to us the story of WHY the book was written...

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No... I needed time to take a breath, take some notes, and rethink a lot of things that I had previously believed it...

Any additional comments?

This is NOT a typical book...

8 people found this helpful

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Mainline Propaganda to Dispel Alternate Views

This book is a revisionist history of the Warren Commission, it's foibles, and the author's propping up of the tired "Oswald acted alone" line of JFK assassination books. While it offers day-to-day insight into the workings of the WC, it accepts all the official positions and challenges nothing.
Sure, there are plenty of "limited hangouts": Chief Justice Earl Warren gets a flawed but loving overview. Hoover's FBI is blamed (rightly) for much. The CIA gets a naughty finger wag, with full immunity for Allen Dulles (read "The Devil's Chessboard") and Lyndon Johnson (read LBJ The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination).
The research is good if you like Posner or Bugliosi, but for most people, still to this day, something is awry with what happened in 1963. This book offers sympathy to the commission men who, nonetheless, obscured valuable evidence and ignore critical information.

17 people found this helpful

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For the Warren Commission apologists,...

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

This story was told from the point of view of those who worked on the commission. It was interesting to hear how some of the members changed their views as the investigation progressed and how some stuck with their initial impressions no matter what evidence they came across. At first they decried the conspiracy theorists, but later understood why people still questioned who was actually involved in this henious crime. Everyone comes in for their share of criticism but in the end, the CIA, the Hoover era FBI and the Secret Service all still need to account for their lapses in sharing information before and after the assassination. Is it any wonder that conspiracy theories thrive when so many questions remain unanswered?

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The narrator was good.

Could you see A Cruel and Shocking Act being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Not really. If Hollywood got hold of this, a lot of the historical facts would probably be lost in favor of more drama.

8 people found this helpful

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Major journalistic achievement

From the first words to the last this book never ceases to surprise and alarm. It’s an exhaustive distillation of a mountain of internal documents enhanced by interviews with Warren Commission insiders and related persons. This investigation confirms in detail what is obvious in retrospect, that the investigation was botched and the the CIA and FBI stonewalled the commission at every turn to throw them off the trail of possible Oswald connections to Soviet and Cuban intelligence and to cover up their agency’s culpability in an assassination that could have been prevented. They did such an effective job that we can’t ever know for sure whether or not a conspiracy existed. I recommend without reservation.

1 person found this helpful

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Unbelievably rich in research

A deep thorough dive into the events, people, evidence and assumptions surrounded the 1963 assassination of JFK.

1 person found this helpful

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This is not the book you're looking for...

...the title is misleading and sensational. The book could have used the New Yorker's top shelf fact checkers rather than whomever checked out the galleys of this. Had high hopes given the author's NYT background but he's no Seymour Hersh and this book contains many errors. Check out Sylvia Meagher's book ACCESSORIES AFTER THE FACT instead, much better work--better writing and better research.

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new information about Mexico City is a bombshell

this book has so many new wrinkles and turns and twists that it is simply hard to put down. In particular this authors almost bulldog commitment to uncovering the information about Oswald's dealings in Mexico City just weeks before JFK's assassination it's shocking and completely worthwhile. I found it to be well-researched and even handedly describe the work of the many young attorneys who put the Warren Commission report together. 10/10 would definitely recommend!

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No Real Conclusions

The author, a Fake News Times reporter, doesn't really come to any firm conclusion on whether there was a conspiracy to murder President Kennedy. He seems to suggest that it's possible Cuba's Fidel Castro was responsible, primarily based on Oswald's visit to Mexico and meetings he had there with Cuban embassy officials. And the fact that the Kennedy (and Eisenhower) administrations made numerous attempts to kill Castro...angering the Cuban leader, who then struck back.

I didn't learn much new from this book, other than how bungled certain aspects of the Warren Commission investigation of the assassination of the President was...but other than that, not much else.