Marc Leroux's Reviews > Impossible: The Case Against Lee Harvey Oswald; Volume One

Impossible by Barry Krusch
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's review
Sep 23, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: _softcover, non-fiction
Read from November 12 to 21, 2012 — I own a copy

I won this book as part of the Goodreads giveaway program, and I was really looking forward to it. I clearly remember having my best friend's father come out and tell me I had to go home and tell my mother that someone had shot the president … I was 5 years old.

Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this book. I'll round up from one and a half stars, because I did learn something of the legal system, but little about the Kennedy assassination.

The basic premise of the book is that Lee Harvey Oswald can't be considered guilty, for a variety of legal reasons. The author has created the "JFK Challenge" where he will put up $5,000 of his money if anyone can disprove his theories. This whole premise is a core piece of the book, but it is not well defined. The details of the challenge are scattered throughout the book, so you can't just go to the section titled "The JFK Challenge" and find out what it means; the section mentions $5,000, but the back cover says $25,000. Maybe the author changed his mind as he was writing the book, but if he wanted the information to be clear, he could have gone back and updated the section where he defines the challenge. My understanding is that the author wants to have a public debate and is challenging other writers, presumably those that believe that Oswald was guilty, to disprove the author's claims. Fair enough, I guess, but the details are kind of fuzzy. In the introduction, the author makes mention of an arbitrator, without any details like "Who chooses the arbitrator and what are the qualifications?" Elsewhere in the book the author says that the challenge will involve a virtual jury, again without details on how they will be selected, and how to be certain there will be no bias. Without clear details, I can't see why anyone would go down this path.

Also, what irked me, is that in the same section the author says that if I find any distorted or omitted information, I should prepare a rebuttal, then he will prepare a counter rebuttal and then it should go to an arbitrator. So there should be no debate about the book. If we haven't followed the process, then the author can discount everything that is said.

So anyone that believes that this is a system that makes sense can stop reading right now, because I'm not going to take my comments to an arbitrator. The book has a number of inconsistencies and peculiarities to it.

There isn't a lot of, perhaps any, primary research. Instead, the author is relying on previously written research, which can introduce distortions.

There are quite a few pictures, some which are from his personal collection, some public domain, and some which are probably still under copyright, that have no credits associated with them. That is just plain wrong. I'm pretty sure that the author didn't take the picture of JFK Jr at his father's funeral, or Jack Nicholson in "The Shining".

One of the books that the author cites as being incorrect is Stephen King's "11/22/63". OK, perhaps it does … but Stephen King writes fiction. That means he makes things up! In deference to Mr. King, I'm sure that he does a tremendous amount of research, and his book is on my "To read" list, but it is, none-the-less, fiction.

In Chapter 9, Krusch makes the case that we should believe certain things because they were reported in "media sources as reputable as The New York Times and the Journal of the American Medical Association" (pages 216-217), then later in the chapter (page304 – yes, it's a long chapter) he presents the "False Reporting Hypothesis", basically saying that what was reported in the press could be untrue.

In chapter 3, while trying to quantify what "Reasonable Doubt" means, the author includes a table of responses from judges on the subject. The 1981 poll included 171 judges in cases "not confined to capital cases". He then goes on to make the argument that the average number for non capital cases was 90.28%. Maybe, the capital cases from the "not confined to capital cases" were taken out, but there is no mention that they were. The number of 171 judges is the only reference. I read "not confined to" as something different than only non-capital cases.

He eventually sets the number for reasonable doubt at 95% (personally, I think that is low), but he doesn't apply the same premise to his own arguments. In the section where he maintains that Oswald could have been part of the CIA (chapter 7), he prints a memo from John A. McCone of the CIA saying that Oswald was not an agent, informant or employee of the agency, but immediately discounts it with "would they have admitted to it?" I'm not sure that meets the standard of 95% proof. A couple of pages later he makes the statement that Jim Woolcott (or Wilcott, the spellings are used interchangeably) "linked Oswald to the CIA", when in fact the wording in a 1978 interview with Woolcott/Wilcott says "talk about Oswald's connection with the CIA was making the rounds". This might have been very credible if the interview occurred before the assassination, but since it was 15 years after the fact, I'm not sure that it meets the 95% rule. Or perhaps, the rule only applies to those trying to find Oswald guilty, and any innuendo is sufficient for those trying to disprove it.

It's the small details like this (and there are many, many more) that make me question the accuracy of the information in the book. I'm like many people, I believe that Oswald acted with others, but I also believe that he could have been the sole shooter. In chapter 7, Krusch makes the case that perhaps Oswald was part of a conspiracy, with others directing his actions, and in this case he should be found innocent. He uses the argument:

"Suppose someone asks you to deliver a package for them to an attorney's office because their car has run out of gas. Being a good Samaritan, you do that. 30 minutes after the you deliver the package, it explodes."

He then goes on to say that you should not be found guilty, you had no intent. I agree, but I find that this example is a long way from aiming a rifle at the President of the United States and pulling the trigger multiple times. Even if, as Krusch postulates, Oswald was told that there were blanks in the rifle, the premise doesn't hold up. To be safe, he could have aimed slightly off target, just to be sure. This was under his control. I thought that the "I was ordered to do it" argument went out at the end of the second World War.

There are a lot of interesting items raised in the book, but they are put together in a confusing way, which makes it hard for the casual reader. The examples used often do not relate to the case, or even the point the author is trying to make. The author's bias is very clear throughout, which makes it hard for me to take this as a serious analysis.

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