Tag: Lee Harvey Oswald

11/22/63 by Stephen King

July 14th, 2016 — 11:18pm

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.09.58 AM11/22/1963

By Stephen King

The main character of this novel is Jake Epping, a school teacher in Maine, who is introduced to a “rabbit hole” in time. That is, if he steps through an opening in a pantry and finds an invisible but palpable small staircase, he will come out on the other side on a particular day in 1958. No matter how long he stays at this new time when he steps back to his original time, it will be that he has only been gone for two minutes. He is introduced to this unusual situation by Al, an acquaintance who is an older man dying of cancer who has made several excursions back to 1958 and lived there for a while. As indicated in the title of this book, “11/22/63” is an important date in this story. As any American knows this was the date that President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. Old dying Al was planning to stop the assassination of JFK and now hopes that Jake will take on this task and he provides him with some preliminary observations on Oswald that Al has made during his several visits back in time.

As you can imagine this can be a complicated process. How would this presidential assassin be stopped? What about the lingering question whether Oswald acted alone? Also, if you are going back in time even for such a worthy cause might you also try to change the course of some other events perhaps prevent an innocent child being murdered or scarred for life? But most important, what are the implications of traveling back in time and altering history?

Who better to take on these questions than Stephen King, one of the most successful, prolific contemporary authors of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, fantasy and science fiction? This novel published in 2011 was approximately King’s 52nd novel which doesn’t include his very numerous other writing endeavors such as novellas, short stories, movies, television programs and many other projects dating back to 1974 when his first novel Carrie was published. King has established himself as one of the creative writing geniuses of modern times. Not only is he original and very imaginative but he builds these ideas within insightful character development. King also does extensive research on all aspects of his subject matter. In this case, as discussed by the author in the epilogue to the book, which included interviews with him, he has read extensively about the history of JFK and his untimely death. This included numerous books written about all the circumstances, details and cast of characters of the events that occurred on 11/22/63. He also spent time visiting and studying Dallas and The Book Depository where Oswald was perched to shoot Kennedy as well as other places mentioned in the book.

Perhaps the most stimulating aspect of this book to me is the intriguing so called “butterfly question”. If one could travel back in time and change anything, how would that alter future events which would impact on other subsequent events? Would the slightest flutter or minute change in the course of history cause other changes which might cascade to unexpected major events? Would seemingly insignificant changes lead to more meaningful changes? Even if one could alter the course of history, can we be sure it would ultimately be for the better?

As Jake, the main character of this book, immerses himself into the past, readers cannot help but be on the edge of their reading seats whether we are flipping pages or pushing buttons. We find ourselves wondering what would we do and how would we do it if we found ourselves being able to go through that rabbit hole in time? There were surprises, moments of elation and disappointments. I could not wait to find how the story would end and I was sorry when it was over.

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Comment » | FH - Fiction Historical, FSF - Fiction Science Fiction

I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt

February 22nd, 2012 — 3:50pm


I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank” the Irishman”  Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa- by Charles Brandt (2005 edition)

When his friend and mafia boss Russell Bufalino introduced a young Frank Sheeran to Jimmy Hoffa, Hoffa’s first words were, I heard you paint houses.” These are code words for “ I heard you do killings.” Little did any of these men imagine that many years later the last person who Hoffa would ever speak to would be Sheernan who killed Hoffa at the bequest of Bufalino. Not only did Sheeran “paint houses” but when required he could also do his “own carpentry” which means he could get rid of the body.

This book is the story of Frank Sheeran as told to Charles Brandt , a former homicide investigator, prosecutor and Chief Deputy Attorney General of the State of Delaware who had prosecuted many homicides in his day. For nearly five years, Brandt gained the confidence of an older Sheernan who was in his twilight years and knew that he was dying. These interviews occurred over numerous visits, many were video or audio recorded. There also were a few trips that were taken by the author, some with Sheernan to locations where “things had happened.” In the 2005 edition of this book there was an epilog with statements by some of the key players including Sheeran’s daughter which gives further authenticity to some the amazing stories in this book.

Sheeran grew up with a tough father in a tough Irish neighborhood. He relates an incident where he knocked out his school principal, breaking his jaw, after he  was pushed around by him. He served overseas in  Europe during World War II. He became a “sniper” which entailed killing lots of enemy troops. He also related that it was not an uncommon practice to kill prisoners of war in cold blood when it was not convenient to them bring them back for detention. He became a family man after the war, getting married and having children. He worked as a truck driver among other jobs and became involved in the union movement. The reader learns how it was quite common for him and his co-workers to steal merchandise that they were transporting and then sell it to increase their earnings. Such activities are presented as “ just making a living”.

Sheeran has a chance meeting with Russell Bufalino who turns out to be one of higher up Mafia bosses. Despite not being Italian he gains the trust of his new friend and meets many other mob connected people.  When a reliable person is needed to “paint a house” Sheeran is someone who would handle the job. There were at least 20-30 such jobs including the famous hit of Joey Gallo and of course Jimmy Hoffa . The reason for the Hoffa hit, the consequences to Sheeran if he didn’t do it to one of his best friends, the details of it,  and his subsequent feelings about it are all described in great detail.

While not described in as much detail, there is also information about another well known hit and that is the “whacking of JFK.”  It is suggested that the mob needed to take some of the power away from Bobby Kennedy who as Attorney General under his brother was after the mob. Sheeran describes how he delivered the high powered rifles that were to be used for this shooting. As is often the case, the unsuspecting triggerman  is killed after a big time hit. Jack Ruby is described as a well known member of the mob who was suppose to arrange for Lee Harvey Oswald to be eliminated after he killed Kennedy. When those plans were botched, Ruby had to do it himself.

In the end so many of the perpetrators of the big time mob activities described in this book ended up in federal prison. Some were turned against each other to get time off so they wouldn’t die in prison.  Sheeran served his time and apparently never turned into “ a rat” …except in this book in a more less final confession before he died.

This book feels like a genuine window into the under belly of this world of crime and killings. If most of the participants were not already gone, you might  almost feel that your life was in danger after reading this book for knowing all this information.

Postscript: There is a rumor that Robert DiNero is on board for playing the Irishman  for a film project that will make of movie of this book with Martin Scorsese directing  and also  starring Joe Pesci and Al Pacino.

2 comments » | AM - Autobiography or Memoir

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