The Manchester Affair

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In my personal library is a tome by John Corry, then a New York Times reporter, entitled The Manchester Affair and published in 1967.  The book details the battle by Robert F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy against the late William Manchester, historian and biographer.  Prior to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Manchester had published a laudatory look at Kennedy, A Portrait of A President.  After the assassination of John F. Kennedy, both Robert F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy were looking for an author to give an “official” Kennedy view of the death of JFK.   Manchester, who was the third author the offer was made to, jumped at the chance.

The book became something of a chase after the White Whale by Manchester who read the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission several times before it was published, interviewed well over a thousand people, including both Jackie Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy twice, and suffered a collapse from exhaustion.  He finished writing the book, The Death of a President, in 1966 during an eight week stay at a hospital in Portland, Connecticut.

The Kennedys were dismayed by the volume:  Robert F. Kennedy by the hostile attitude in the book towards President Johnson and Jackie by too much blood and gore in the depiction of the assassination, and by Manchester revealing too much of her private thoughts, which she had confided in him, during the day of the assassination and the days following.  (Robert Kennedy hated LBJ, a sentiment returned with interest by LBJ.  However, he understood that a book that would appear to be a hired Kennedy “hit” against LBJ would do him no good if he decided to run against him in 1968.)

Manchester, who viewed his work with the love of a parent for a child, was willing to make some revisions, but not nearly enough to placate the Kennedys.  The Kennedys foolishly filed suit to enjoin the publication on the grounds that Manchester had violated the terms of his original agreement with the Kennedys, (he hadn’t), thus greatly enhancing the interest of the public in the book.  The suit was settled by Manchester in January 1967 agreeing to  cut some 1600 words and seven pages from the 654 page book.  Manchester described the cuts at the time as “harmless” and the settlement was a face saving device for the Kennedys retreating from a legal fight they could not win.  The book was a massive best seller, selling over a million copies, and Look magazine paying the then unheard of price of $650,000.00 for serialization rights.  Manchester went on to write such acclaimed works as his biography of Douglas MacArthur, American Caesar, still the best of the many books on MacArthur in my opinion, his two volume look at Winston Churchill up to 1940, subsequently completed after Manchester’s death by another author, and his haunting memoir of his service as a Marine in World War II, Goodbye DarknessA Memoir of the Pacific War.

 

 

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Published in: on January 6, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Manchester Affair  
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Lee Harvey Oswald and the Jesuits

(I originally posted this at The American Catholic and I thought the history mavens of Almost Chosen People might like it.)

 

This should send conspiracy theorists shooting off towards the Andromeda Galaxy:

 

This sounds totally make-believe, but every single word of it is true: On July 27, 1963, less than four months before he assassinated President John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald was invited to deliver a lecture to a group of Jesuits in Mobile, Alabama, at their House of Studies.

This, of course, didn’t just happen in a vacuum. Oswald’s cousin, Eugene Murret, was in formation to become a Jesuit. Since Eugene’s parents, Lillian and “Dutz” Murret, were among the only remaining family Oswald had — and they had shared with Br. Eugene his cousin’s trouble finding a job since his return from the Soviet Union, as well as the fact that he had a young wife and two small children — Eugene apparently took pity on his younger cousin. In a letter dated July 4, 1963, and forever marked as Warren Commission Exhibit No. 2648, Eugene wrote to his uneducated and poverty-ridden relative, Lee Harvey, saying:

Here at the [Jesuit] House of Studies during the summer months we have a series of lectures on various subjects given by different persons from the neighboring areas. These subjects usually deal with art, literature, economics, religion, politics, etc.

Oswald, who had never finished high school and was dishonorably discharged from the Marine Corps, knew next to nothing — indeed, nothing at all — of art, literature, economics, or religion.

However, since he had defected to and lived (briefly) in the Soviet Union from 1959-1961, Oswald “knew” a bit about life under a Communist regime. His cousi, Eugene continued in his missive, that:

We were hoping that you might come over to talk to us about contemporary Russia and the practice of Communism there.

Concerned perhaps that this might amount to a public de-lousing, Eugene double-clutches and becomes a bit more gregarious and expansive:

Go here to read the rest at The National Catholic Register.  Oswald was a lone nutcase assassin, but his contacts in the last year of his life are expansive and peculiar enough to help establish the cottage industry of Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories that is happily chugging along more than a half century later.

 

Published in: on September 6, 2018 at 4:25 am  Comments Off on Lee Harvey Oswald and the Jesuits  
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