Thursday, November 21, 2013


As the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy approaches, conspiracy theories and disputes over the events of November 22, 1963 are back in the spotlight.  In his new book, History Will Prove Us Right: Inside the Warren Commission Report on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Howard P. Willens gives an in-depth look at the investigation conducted by the Warren Commission and the report they produced.  Willens is one of the only living members of the supervisory staff of the Warren Commission that headed the investigation surrounding President Kennedy’s assassination.  Willens’ personal journal kept during the time of the Warren Commission and correspondence files from the investigation are the basis for this enlightening and surprising recount of America’s largest criminal investigation.  History Will Prove Us Right has been met with outstanding praise and provides a one-of-a-kind account of the Warren Commission’s investigation.

Excerpt from Willens’ Journal:

On Monday afternoon Mr. Stern and I went to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for an appointment with Assistant Director Tavel. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss informally the filing system currently maintained by the Bureau prior to making any recommendations regarding liaison between investigative agencies…. Mr. Stern outlined some of the specific questions we had, such as procedures for conducting name checks, extent to which evidence in Bureau files could be made available by categories or criteria to Secret Service, etc. 
 Mr. Tavel gave a brief but useful description of the routing, classifying and filing procedures maintained by the Bureau.  He emphasized the number of name checks conducted every day, which he estimated ranged about 10,000 or so, and also emphasized the fact that the Bureau’s  system was set up to handle the needs of the Bureau. …
After this discussion we went on a tour of their facilities. The FBI personnel were completely frank and responsive to our questions. They clearly emphasized, however, the superiority of their system to others and indicted that they had not mechanized their system as yet because there were not adequate IBM machines available to do the job. They stated that (1) no machine could handle the information contained in the five million index cards currently in the Bureau’s system which had to be queried many thousands of times a day and (2) they emphasized that the file clerk would frequently have to exercise his own judgment regarding the request and that a machine would not eliminate the need for the exercise of human judgment in many cases.  Mr. Stern and I did not press this topic since we were not experts in the field and thought that it was not necessary.

Praise for History Will Prove Us Right:

“A magisterial assessment of how the Warren Commission’s investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy stands up after the passage of 50 years… A superbly written account by someone who knows precisely what needs to be said and how to say it.”-Kirkus reviews

“This fascinating book takes us through the commission’s lengthy investigation…(it) serves a valuable function by laying out how it did its work.”-Booklist

“Finally, the much-needed book on the Warren Commission.  While the rest of us who have written about the commission were only peeking in, Howard P. Willens was there, a principal architect of the very history we could only write about.  Now, with his precise and very discerning pen, he has written with unimpeachable authority what actually happened, making his book an historically important one.  I can’t imagine any future writer on the commission doing so without having History Will Prove Us Right at their side.  Highly recommended.” –Vincent Bugliosi, bestselling author of Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy and  Helter Skelter.

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