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March 2004



Death of last  surviving member of the Bloomsbury Group

Frances Partridge began her literary career when she was 78,  when she published A Pacifist's War.  She followed this with numerous other volumes of  memoirs.  She lived to the ripe old age of 103 and her last published book was Ups And Downs  in 2001


Archive Leakage

Tom Stoppard and David Hare are amongst British writers who have recently sold their literary archives to American Universities. When it comes to competing on the open market for such literary treasures, the rich coffers of the Americans always win out. Because of this, our Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, has requested that an institution be created in the UK specifically designed to stop this manuscript-drip from our shores Methods currently on offer are the National Heritage Memorial Fund, which has granted £3m to Oxford University's Bodleian library, towards the purchase of the Abinger Papers, an archive which also includes letters and papers from Mary Shelley's parents, the feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft and intellectual William Godwin which are shortly to go under the hammer but Bodleian will get first choice if it can reach the reserve price within the next few weeks. The government can also use export licences and tax breaks to try to keep valuable works of art in the country.  

Roses Expansion

Ibooknet member Maria Goddard of Rose's Books in Hay-On-Wye announces the completion of the shop expansion and the opening of two new fully-stocked bookrooms. This is the latest in the development plans of Rose's and its sister shop, Stella Books in Tintern. Rose's stock now numbers 12,000 books, all childrens and illustrated, with major further additions planned for the coming months. The entire stock of both Rose's and Stella Books combined can be viewed via the Ibooknet website

Collecting JFK Assassination Books
by Les Bolland

Despite 40 years having elapsed since John F. Kennedy was assassinated, interest has never waned, as it was and remains, the greatest murder case of the 20th Century.

Since that fateful day in November 1963 books have been published in their hundreds on this topic and are still being published to this day. The building of a library on the topic, whether small or large, remains an interest to many and I am often asked for advice on where to start. In this article I will try and offer some general guidance.

There is a wealth of information out there, but before plunging in and buying the first book you see it is usually best to consider how to get the best out of the investigative process, because that is what reading these books amounts to. If you read one book, and it is any good, it will taint your view on this case to the slant of that particular author’s view. My advice is to start at the beginning with the official view and then develop your reading on from there. My credentials for offering this advice comes from having spent 30 years investigating and leading murder investigations in this country, so I know a little, and cringe when I see nothing but conspiracy views espoused without critical study.

There are two schools of thought in the study of the JFK assassination: the Oswald lone gunman theory or conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theorists view the official lone gunman theory as flawed but it is essential study in order to later get the best out the study of some of the conspiracy theories.

Where then to start? In my view the first book to read should be the Warren Commission Report. The Warren Commission was set up by President Johnson shortly after the murder under Supreme Court Judge Earl Warren and their report was published in 1964. The full report and its appendices run to many volumes but the report on its own was widely published in paperback and hardback and is an excellent and essential starting place.

Following on from there the next obvious place to go is an early critique of the Warren Report. One of the affordable classics in this field is “Rush To Judgment” by Mark Lane. After this it should then be easier to go where one’s interest then lies as further reading is set on a firm basis.

Often after a couple of books readers set their stall firmly in either the lone gunman camp or the conspiracy camp and further reading is based on reinforcing their view. My advice is not to do this but to continue to read from both camps, especially books from some of the respected researchers in the field. They are of course only respected by those who support their views. From the conspiracy viewpoint books by Harold Weisberg, especially “Whitewash” are well worth reading and to balance the viewpoint back towards the lone gunman, perhaps “Conspiracy Of One” by Jim Moore.

Further research and reading should include the books written by some of the people involved on the day. One such example is “JFK First Day Evidence” written by Dallas Police Crime Lab Detective Rusty Livingston. There are many books written by these people and it is often interesting to compare what they have later written in their books to what they said when giving evidence to The Warren Commission which I recommended as the starting point of JFK assassination reading.

There are hundreds of books available on this topic, some good, some bad, some readily available, some scarce and some very rare. My advice for further reading would be to be selective. The fact that some books are popular does not necessarily make them worth reading. A case in point is “Mortal Error” by Bonar Menninger. This is a very popular book but is a theory too far. This suggests that the fatal headshot was accidentally fired by one of the Security men in the following car.

This topic is very interesting and offers a lifetime of reading and study on its own. It will continue to for many years to come. Life is too short to read all the books so if in doubt then please seek advice. I am always happy to assist with research and library building and suggestions for further reading.

Amazon self-reviewing (and as a bonus, put the boot into authors you personally dislike

Anyone - and that is anyone, can write a review of a book and put it on the Amazon website, which then appears below the book details when presented for sale, as a further carrot to customers to buy the book No one needs know your real identity of the reviewer.

One such 5 star review recently was of The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens by John Rechy, which it was later discovered was written by the author himself. And Dave Eggers was also “outed” as the author of a review for the work of his friend, Heidi Julavits, which he described as 'one of the best books of the year'.

Both indiscretions came to light when the Canadian Amazon site put the e-mail addresses of both authors as the writers of the reviews, rather than their tendered nom-de-plumes.

However, this internet free-for-all can go a stage further - one ex-wife of an American author put the history of his infidelities in her review of his book.  

Next Month: The feature for April will be by Isabelline Books

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