Reviews

Stephen Armstrong: Three by McBride — Book Reviews

Reviews of Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless, 2012; Hawks on Hawks, 2013; and Into the Nightmare: My Search for the Killers of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J. D. Tippit, 2013

ROUTE 7 REVIEW (Dixie State University, St. George, Utah), Vol. 2, 2014 (June)

Excerpt:

Over a career spanning six decades, Joseph McBride has published an impressive collection of nonfiction books, covering topics as diverse as baseball, Frank Capra, E.T., and the Ramones. . . .

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Jeff Swindoll: Into the Nightmare: My Search for the Killers of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J. D. Tippit — Book Review

Monsters and Critics.com, August 5, 2013

Excerpt:

You may know writer Joseph McBride as a writer of film biographies, criticism, several AFI Life Achievement Award ceremonies, or even the screenplay of Rock n Roll High School.  What you may not know about McBride is that in the year 1960 the then young man attended a rally on the Milwaukee campaign leg of John F. Kennedy as well as attending another rally that was immortalized in the film Primary.

Camelot would end on November 22, 1963 and McBride was in shock that the young President he so admired was felled by an assassin’s bullet.

The shock of the murder and his skepticism of the reported facts would compel McBride to stage his own investigation into what really happened to on that day in Dallas, Texas.  This year will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the day that the “nightmare” became reality and left many with vivid memories of where they were when they heard that the youthful, vibrant President was dead.  What may differ this book from others is that McBride is an old school journalist of the kind perhaps missing in today’s sound bite, tweet obsessed media.

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Gerald Peary: Arts Fuse Book Review: “Into the Nightmare” — An Epic Account of the Assassination of John F. Kennedy

The Arts Fuse (Boston, Massachusetts), July 29, 2013

Excerpt:

Into the Nightmare is a great book, a monumental book, and an authoritative assimilation of 40 years of what everyone, off and on the record, has argued about the Kennedy assassination, plus what author Joseph McBride himself concludes.

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A Personal Journey into the JFK Murder: Joseph McBride’s Into the Nightmare by Joseph Green

OpEdNews.com, July 16, 2013

Excerpt:

It has been nearly fifty years since the assassination of John F. Kennedy became the baptismal event for the sickness that burnt the American dream like a draft card. Vietnam followed, Malcolm fell, then Martin, and Bobby, the left got old and turned right, and somewhere along the line many lost the taste for fighting back. Meanwhile, the media have been stacking skeletons ever since, but that closet grows ever more full, stale, and rotten. Still, the pretense continues: In our age, most mainstream journalism has become a kind of exercise in organized non sequiturs, like artless Beckett, farce without wit.

The premise is objectivity, we are told. Fair and balanced, we are told. Modern investigative reporting, by the available evidence of television and print media, often seems to regard objectivity as reporting all issues as if they have two sides — no more and no less, and to draw no conclusions regardless of how inane one side’s claims may be. This seems frequently to be true even in trivial matters, but it gets worse the more controversial the issue. Network news seems to take its cues from intelligent design activists who just want schools to Teach the Controversy.

This context makes Joseph McBride’s new book Into The Nightmare a jagged reminder of old-school reportage. Going against the grain, he asks difficult questions and tries hard to answer them. And even if every question cannot be answered satisfactorily, much compelling information surfaces throughout.

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From Amazon.com Readers

5.0 out of 5 stars A Master Work! July 23, 2013
By Vince Palamara

Every once in a while, a book comes along that is not merely a book, a good book, or even, for that matter, a great book, but what I am fond of calling a master work. “Into The Nightmare” by Joseph McBride is just such a rare commodity: a master work on the assassination that is very well written (even poetic at times), thought provoking, and well researched. Clearly, the author is passionate about both President Kennedy (having met the man several times in younger days) and his tragic assassination. This passion comes through, loud and clear, on every page, but without the shrill tone common in many books on this subject. In short, this volume was written with loving care, encompassing every facet of the case, including the murder of police officer J.D. Tippit, an area that usually receives short shrift in the literature of the assassination.

Along with other such master works as Jim Douglass “JFK & The Unspeakable” and Doug Horne’s 5-volume”Inside The ARRB”, McBride’s book is an essential purchase and essential reading. This one is a keeper; a book you will refer back to again and again. They don’t make them like this very often. Get this very fine volume asap- you’ll be glad you did.

5.0 out of 5 stars The Downhill Slide of Democracy July 23, 2013
By Judy Schavrien

Regarding the NSA scandal–what one might call the surveillance conspiracy–Jimmy Carter recently said in Der Spiegel (July 17, 2013) that “America has no functioning democracy at this moment.” He has also praised Snowden’s courage, hoping it would give the United States a salutary shakeup. When did the tipping point occur? When did democracy’s downhill slide begin? According to Joseph McBride, playing journalistic and scholarly tour guide as he takes us Into the Nightmare, it began with the successful killing of JFK–and of Officer J.D. Tippit as well–on November 22, 1963, gaining momentum with a seemingly well-orchestrated coverup in the wake. Luckily, Professor McBride accomplishes an astonishing feat in offering his reinterpretation, one that profits from his three decades of diligent research on the topic and his interdisciplinary and encyclopedic ability to remember and arrange.

If you think Professor McBride is one of those crazy conspiracy theorists, be sure to read his chapter on the CIA’s campaign, memos and all, to throw doubt on any who might come to question the Oswald-only version of the assassination, who might instead argue that there were a number of killers, e.g. Grassy Knoll marksmen as well. It is possible you will recognize, as you read the CIA memo, tag lines that hang out in your own or a friend’s mind, the prefab objections to conspiracy theorists. On the other hand, Watergate, Iran/Contra, NSA may float to the surface of your mind and you may have to admit that conspiracies do happen. If they can happen from the governmental side, why not from the side of the assassins? Or were the two sides one and the same?

Some players include the CIA, the anti-Castro Cubans, big oil and the mafia: LBJ and even the elder Bush (Chapter 10) would have a fair amount to explain as well. The doubts regarding such players are by no means wildly raised, but very carefully, very systematically. “Paranoid” is one of the buzzwords the CIA had suggested for its campaign against conspiracy theorists: It is right there in the memo that McBride documents. But the McBride book gives not only evidence that confirms its theories but also that which disconfirms: good research.

I refer, in this case, to the evidence bearing on the Warren Commission report’s “lone nut” version of the killings, with Oswald having been responsible for not only Kennedy’s death and Governor Connally’s injury–including using just one bullet that got them both, no less–but also for Officer Tippit’s death en route to Oswald’s own attempted escape. This book is, henceforth, a must-read for any with an ongoing interest in what remains an open case. That it does remain an open case is proven by the simple fact that the Warren Commission report, with Oswald as the “lone nut,” has been later contradicted by the House Select Committee on Assassinations report, which finally concedes that two shooters must have been active.

McBride himself points out unique contributions as he goes along, the biggest one being his new and telling research on the J.D. Tippit death, research that begins to link Tippit with Ruby and the mafia, big oil, and the extreme right wing. It must be remembered as well, which McBride demonstrates, that, should LBJ have been involved in the JFK assassination, which is not proven, although there is documentation of his involvement in the coverup, he profited enormously from reversing JFK’s intentions to gradually withdraw from Vietnam, since he owned substantial stock in Kellogg, Brown & Root, which had been absorbed in 1962 into Halliburton, both of which enjoyed a pile of non-competitive contracts for the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. With the death of JFK, LBJ also ducked a scandal about his own finances which would have burst upon the scene any minute. Oddly enough, then, solving the Tippit death accurately, rather thanthrowing that one on Oswald as well–who cried out when being led off “I’m just a patsy!”–is crucial.

Finally, McBride fashions this book of non-fiction, this history, as a Bildungsroman. The “Bildung” or education of an idealistic youth he tells in all its idiosyncracy: The author began as an ardent believer in Catholicism, America, and its free media, with two journalists for parents; he gradually lost that bloom of innocence, resisting along the way, and acquired the wound of experience; he tells the story so vividly that it becomes the American journey itself. Luckily, the wound does not prevent his own dogged progress, patriotic even or especially in its deeply skeptical approach. Blood, however, stains the pages. Without not only McBride’s wakeup call but also the many other calls that are right now sounding, both about a political shadow government and even (cf. Catherine Austin Fitts) a financial shadow system as well, and without our actively heeding those calls, there will be, at home and abroad, more blood to come. Hannah Arendt has said (University of Chicago, lecture series, early `70′s) that Americans at the founding wanted to be free from governing and concern with government rather than free to exert themselves in self-governing. This is a luxury we can no longer afford, perhaps could never afford. May it soon be said again, in a voice not of innocence but of experience, that America has a functioning democracy.