Was Texas governor John Connally, not President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald's actual target on that fated day fifty years ago? That's the startling theory argued by critically acclaimed, bestselling historian James Reston Jr. in his explosive forthcoming book THE ACCIDENTAL VICTIM: JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald, and the Real Target in Dallas (Zola Books, September 2013).
First suggested in his 1989 biography of Connally, THE LONE STAR, but now greatly expanded with a wealth of convincing new detail, Reston's argument focuses on little-appreciated facts outlining tensions between Connally and ex-Marine Oswald beginning as early as January 1961.
The Case for Connally
After Oswald attempted to defect to the Soviet Union upon his release from military service, he learned that his discharge had been changed from honorable to dishonorable without a proper hearing. Oswald protested this unfairness directly to his fellow Texan John Connally, then Secretary of Navy. In February 1962 he received a classic bureaucratic brush-off; the boilerplate arrived in a campaign envelope bearing the smiling face of the gubernatorial candidate.
Saddled with a dishonorable discharge, unable to find work in Texas, Oswald developed an obsessive grudge against Connally, Reston posits. Marina Oswald, Lee Harvey’s wife, testified three times that Connally was her husband’s target. Several important members of the Dallas Russian émigré community also spoke of the grudge. So why did the Warren Commission chose to ignore this evidence? It was political, Reston asserts; the Commission felt it could not sell the idea of President Kennedy being an accidental victim in Dallas.
Along with proof of Oswald’s animus toward Connally, Reston also presents ample evidence revealing that Oswald and his wife greatly admired both JFK and Jackie Kennedy.
A New View of JFK’s Death
In addition to this provocative theory of Oswald’s motivation, Reston advances a second controversial view destined to change the way we think about that day in Dallas. The back brace worn by President Kennedy, Reston contends, contributed to his death on November 22, 1963.
Reston makes the case that after Oswald’s first bullet passed through the president’s neck and into the back of Governor Connally, the back brace (recently examined by the author at the National Archives) held Kennedy upright and virtually stationary in the presidential limousine, while Connally writhed in pain and fell into his wife’s lap. As the famous Zapruder film shows, the president’s rigid posture lasted five full seconds, allowing Oswald to reload and fire a second time. That second shot killed the president immediately.
As the nation commemorates the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s tragic death this fall, THE ACCIDENTAL VICTIM will command wide attention.
With the publication of Defenders of the Faith in 2009, James Reston, Jr. completes his character-driven historical quintet of seminal events in medieval history from 1000 A.D. to 1632 A.D. The quintet covers the millennial year of 1000 A.D., the Third Crusade 1187-1192 A.D., the conflict between Christianity and Islam in the Spain of Christopher Columbus, 1492 A.D., the Ottoman assault on the gates of Vienna by Suleyman the Magnificent in 1529 and 1532, and Galileo’s incredible life through the discovery of the telescope to his epic clash with the Catholic Church on the issue of science vs. faith, including his Inquisitional trial in 1632. The books have enjoyed a large international audience, published in as many as thirteen languages. The Turkish edition of Defenders of the Faith has just been published. (See below)
Biography of James Reston, Jr.Literary agent: Markus Hoffman, Regal_Literary.
Author of 15 books, three plays, and numerous articles in national magazines. Winner of Prix Italia and the Dupont-Columbia Award for his chilling 1983 ninety-minute radio documentary on National Public Radio, "Father Cares: the Last of Jonestown." His last five historical works, Galileo: A Life, The Last Apocalypse, Warriors of God, Dogs of God, and Defenders of the Faith have been translated into thirteen foreign languages. Warriors of God and Collision at Home Plate have been optioned by Hollywood. The Last Apocalypse was a main selection of the Book of the Month Club. Warriors of God is an international best seller with over 200,000 copies sold world-wide and still selling. Fragile Innocence, his memoir of bringing up his handicapped daughter, reached #8 on the Washington Post best seller list.
In 1976-1977, Reston was David Frost's Watergate adviser for the famous Frost/Nixon Interviews, seen by 57 million people world-wide. His narrative of that experience was published in 2007 and entitled The Conviction of Richard Nixon: The Untold Story of the Frost/Nixon Interviews and was the main inspiration to the British playwright, Peter Morgan, in the making of his hit London play, "Frost/Nixon." Reston is a major character and the narrator of the play. In the Hollywood adaptation of the play, directed by Ron Howard,and nominated for five Academy Awards, Reston is played by the actor, Sam Rockwell.
His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Time, The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Esquire, American Theatre, Playboy, and Rolling Stone. He recently contributed the Foreword to the National Geographic book, Eyewitness to History.
His three plays are: "Sherman the Peacemaker," Chapel Hill, N.C., 1979; "Jonestown Express," Providence, R.I., 1983; and "Galileo's Torch," Flint Hill, Va., 2014.
He has lectured widely in the United States (Smithsonian, Library of Congress, Woodrow Wilson Center) and overseas on the millennium, the crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Ottomans at Vienna, citing their relevance to modern issues.....and about the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 2014.
He has been a fellow at the American Academy in Rome,a fellow at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.
Born in New York in 1941, he was raised in Washington, D.C. and attended the University of North Carolina on a Morehead Scholarship where he earned his B.A. in philosophy. At UNC he was an All South soccer player and after forty-two years still holds the single game scoring record for the university. (5 goals against N.C. State, October 18, 1962.) He attended Oxford University for his junior year.
Reston was an assistant to U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Steward Udall, 1964-65. U.S. Army, 1965-68. Lecturer in Creative Writing, University of North Carolina, 1971-81. Newsweek, PBS, and BBC candidate to be the first writer on the NASA space shuttle.
Married, with three children. Lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
*PAPERBACK EDITION PUBLISHED: July 27, 2010
**ITALIAN, TURKISH,AND ARABIC EDITIONS COMING THIS FALL**
"Fast paced and engaging. This is excellent reading."
"James Reston, Jr. has written a readable, enjoyable and professional popular history of a crucial era of Muslim-Christian conflict....[He] is a skilled and highly experienced professional writer who here focuses on the tremendous clash between the Catholic Christian European and Muslim worlds in the 16th century. The struggle was embodied in the titanic figures of Suleyman the Magnificent who ruled for almost half a century as the greatest of Ottoman Muslim caliphs, and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who ruled more of Europe than anyone except Napolean and Hitler ever managed....
The obvious relevance of this book is the 21st century challenge to the West of radical Islam. But the clash of enormous 'super' or even 'hyper' power systems that Mr. Reston describes is more reminiscent of the first quarter century of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States....
....fascinating echoes with modern conflicts and strategic dilemmas."
"In this vibrant piece of intellectual history, Reston completes the saga of the relationship between East and West he began with Warriros of God. Combining a historian's attention to detail and a novelist's narrative flair, Reston focuses on the period when the Ottoman Empire came within a hair's breath of conquering Europe....By examining this short but crucial span of years, Reston not only brings to life two "Olympian" figures who believed they were carrying out the will of God; he also offers a lucid window onto Renaissance Europe and the foundations of contemporary debates between the West and Islam."
----Publisher's Weekly, March 30, 2009
"(Reston) imposes narrative clarity on a kaleidoscopic array of historical events......He enlivens his chosen principals' movements on the political and religious chessboard and evaluates how they worked out......Given the disunity of the Christian monarchs, readers wondering why Suleyman did not prevail may depend on Reston's interesting display of fact, description, and narrative to elucidate a pivotal point in history."
UNIVERSAL PICTURES BUYS THE RIGHTS TO THE BOOK FOR ITS MOVIE, FROST/NIXON. MOVIE PREMIERES IN DECEMBER 2008 AND CAPTURES 5 ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS INCLUDING BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY.
Harmony Books, February 2006
MOST DISCUSSED BOOK: Sydney Writers Festival,Sydney, Australia, May 2008, in connection with Australian publication of the book.
SPECIAL EVENT: December 1, 2008. Invitation-only screening of Frost/Nixon. National Geographic auditorium.
SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE, January, 2009: "Frost, Nixon, and Me," on what is gained and what is lost when history is transferred to the silver screen.
ESQUIRE MAGAZINE UK, February, 2009: "Who Will Get Bush to Confess?" on the metaphor of Richard Nixon to the post presidency of George W. Bush
Critics react to Conviction of Richard Nixon: "A compact and gripping behind-the-scenes narrative...intelligent, compassionate." ----The Washington Post
"Reston has crafted a riveting memoir...a welcome flashback for those still infatuated with one of America's darkest political hours." ----Los Angeles Times
"It hardly reads like history. Instead, watching the comeuppance of a highly unpopular and divisive president will provide gratifying thrills for the politically disenchanged....Reston's passion for finding the chinks in Nixon's armor makes for fascinating reading." ----Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"...a fascinating description of the planning and execution of the interviews." ----Deseret News
"A treasure trove of invaluable insights from an unimpeachable source." ---Frank Langella, star of the play, Frost/Nixon, as Richard Nixon.
"Show biz trumps the Ford pardon. A riveting account." ---Richard Ben-Veniste, chief of Watergate Task Force
"Political history that reads like a thriller. Passionate, intelligent, entertaining, and human." ---Michael Sheen, star of Frost/Nixon as David Frost.
"...penetrating insights....undoubted historical value..." ----Palm Beach Post
One of the Best Books of 2006: Washington Post
Reached #8 on Washington Post Best Seller List
Fragile Innocence: A Father's Memoir of His Daughter's Courageous Journey"...[a] carefully crafted memoir....Fragile Innocence is a page-turning read. Most of all though, it's a story of a father's discovery, the discovery that love trumps terror, that love finds expression despite seemingly impossible circumstances. In the end, it's the story of a father's love for his daughter."---Washington Post
"A story of love---and hope." ---Newsweek"
Renown author James Reston, Jr. details the heart-wrenching saga of his daughter....Hillary herself---without speech or language, with a nine-month old's intellect---makes the case for the value of every life. This is a compelling story." ----Publishers Weekly"
There is real polemic threaded through this memoir---an insistence that disabled, retarded or handicapped children's lives matter just as much as everyone else's.....Moving. ----Kirkus
October 11, 2005, Doubleday Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition, and the Defeat of the Moors
Eight foreign editions planned so far: Great Britain (Faber & Faber), February 2006; Spain, Korea, Brazil, Portugal, Russia, Albania, and Arabic
"...an engaging and highly readable book...The events in Dogs of God may have taken place more than 500 years ago, but there are times when they seem chillingly, worryingly familiar." ---Washington Post
"In an energetic style unfettered by scholarly jargon or too many footnotes, Reston brings alive the conflict between the Catholic and the Muslim and how the conflict still resonates today." ---USA Today
"Rarely has medieval history seemed so urgent." ---Kirkus "This is a highly entertaining, thoughtful, and complex narrative and analyzes a greatly misunderstood era." ---Publishers Weekly
"...colorful...readable...vivid..." ----Jerusalem Post
"Told with sweep and intelligence, Reston's Dogs of God is a compelling, often provocative account of the ugly terrors of the Spanish Inquisition. More than just a chilling account of this dark chapter of history, its message about the dangers of religious excess has powerful echoes for the world today."
---Jay Winik, author of 1865: The Month that Saved America