Book review by Marty West: This book’s thesis is an excellent example of what a conspiracy theory is: a connecting thread through a very long chain of often mundane events and involving a large group of people, culminating in a finding that goes against the official version. The conspiracy theory in this book is a new approach to the ‘who dunnit’ JFK assassination mystery. It seeks to find out what kind of people could have wanted to do this murder and how they might have done it. 

At 987 pages, author Jeffrey Caufield offers a satisfyingly plausible theory of the murder. One of its central ingredients is an intricate and insightful analysis of the soft white underbelly of the American south in the 1950s and 1960s, and its deep-seated racism and zealousness in resisting a more integrated society.

Getting off topic? Not at all. You have to know this backdrop to understand this conspiracy theory. It is the quilt upon which the whole drama is embroidered. There are dozens of characters in this story, and perhaps surprisingly many are ordinary, unsensational folks. Some you will have heard of elsewhere, but many you won’t and there’s no reason you should have – they’re too normal. Yet they were pieces of this puzzle.  Caufield follows these folks through their travels from the mid-‘50s through to Dealey Plaza 11/22/63. He looks meticulously at meetings of anti-communist community societies, boisterous audience-rousing patriotic speeches made there; networking done there, underground newspapers of the time, and much more.

So who was General Walker? Fired by JFK from the US army, he became disgruntled and sowed the seeds of a plot to kill JFK. Yet this was not hastily assembled in the heat of anger. It took years. It happened in stages. In the final stage, according to Caufield, Lee Harvey Oswald was taking part in a phony, mock killing of JFK on Nov. 22/63 apparently to scare the authorities. Thus Oswald loitered in the lunchroom of the Book Depository in the moments after the shootings, believing nothing had really happened. He sauntered out of the building and within an hour found out via a news report on a city bus that JFK had actually been shot for real. At that point Oswald realized he’d been duped and it was time to run.

Previous JFK books leave us asking lots of questions. This book gives “aha! — that’s what happened” answers to some of them. The basic thesis Caufield presents is that General Walker and his complex network of like-minded everyday individuals saw JFK and the integrationist equal rights laws he was advocating for as a threat to the southern way of life. However, a main unanswered question is this: Caufield implicates people in this conspiracy whose families still wield influence in the US, notable the Hunt family who owns the National Football League’s Kansas City team. Why didn’t Caufield interview them for this book?

Conclusion: This book is A+ as far as delineating what a real-life conspiracy would look like – many people, a long period of time, a cause (to preserve the southern way of life), an opportunity (JFKs Dallas motorcade). Yet put all together, does Caufield offer a convincing conclusion that this was actually how JFK was killed? Showing that something is plausible is not proving. We can agree that this kind of people with a like-minded attitude could have put the whole thing together, but that’s not the same as proving it. Yet maybe Caufield’s plausibility approach is the most satisfying story we’ll get now. The debate about JFKs murder is entering its 7th decade and it’s doubtful that we’ll ever find solid proof. All we have are theories and this is one of the better ones.