Thursday, December 09, 2010

Talking to the Author of Kennedy Must Be Killed

Well, I've chatted a bit online with Chuck Helppie, author of the book just reviewd in the previous post.  Here are my notes, then his, then mine, then his reply.  As you can tell, he seems like a fine, insightful guy.  You should read the book for yourselves!

I wrote,
On Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 5:51 PM, Mark Alfred wrote:

Dear Mr Helppie,

I just finished your book, and enjoyed it. If you would like to see my review, please check out my blog entry that I just posted,

You did a good job of making the story believable as having happened in one guy’s life story. Darn it, in my review I forgot to mention that I liked the surprise revelation of who the Preacher was!

Anyway, I just wanted to share with you that I enjoyed the read. My copy came in the mail Monday afternoon, and I just wrapped up the last pages.

So, how many assassinations books do YOU have? Probably a lot more than my 81.

Thanks again for the thought-provoking read,

Mark Alfred

He replied,
Hi Mark,

I am more than a little embarrassed that you were able to read my entire book AND write a terrific review in forty-eight hours and yet it took me almost sixteen hours to respond to your very kind note! (I didn't get home until late last night.)

I'm glad you enjoyed my novel so much. Your review was outstanding in terms of delving into some of the themes I wanted readers to recognize and ponder. There was not only a power struggle between the Yankees and the Cowboys but also between the Kennedys and the Eastern 'Old Money' power establishment. (When you peruse the roster of the CFR over the decades you are struck by how few Kennedy insiders are represented.)

I'm also extremely pleased that nothing in the novel "rang false" for you. I tried to be painstaking in my approach for that very reason. I wanted my readers to finish my story and then decide (as you did) whether or not this explains many of the assassination's mysteries and contradictions.

I don't know if you've been to my website ( but my complete bibliography can be found there. I haven't counted my assassination books recently but I would guess the number to be 250+. You can compare my list to yours and if I'm missing something you recommend, please let me know.

As far as your "pet peeve," I wanted to say that although I'm disappointed I didn't get a perfect 100, I'll happily take a 98. (That's still an 'A+' in my opinion.) That "pouring" mistake on page 421 vexes us as do a few others. My publisher told me no book is perfect, and as hard as we worked in proof-reading it prior to publication, we still found a few errors that slipped through. My wife is a retired AP English teacher and with the assistance of a former colleague, they "pored" over the novel in the editing and copyediting process. I gave them a manuscript with 326,000 words and they did a phenomenal job as they managed to whittle it down to only 258,000. (My wife said that if there is a Hell and she ends up there, the Devil will undoubtedly give her an un-ending pile of manuscripts to copyedit for eternity.)

I plan to spend time this evening going back over your previous blogs to see your other reviews. Once again, Mark, thank you very much for what you've done. My best hope for other readers to discover and enjoy my story is through readers like you.

Best wishes,


P.S. - Patrick's story spans the period from 1947 to 1978 (not 1976 to 1978). However, I'll still give you a 100 out of 100! CH

My reply,
Thank you for your friendly and fun reply. I graduated with an English Bachelor’s, spent two years as a proofreader/copy editor for an educational publisher, and DID proofread my review before hitting “publish post” -– and as you can see, was shown up by human frailty! (mine that is, on the dates covered in the book)

Yep, any kind of possible explanation for the murder has to cover the bases you did: organized crime; doubles of Oswald; military/CIA displeasure with a certain “reckless youth;” and, KEY in my opinion, the fact that insiders in several government agencies did so much, AFTER the crime, to push the covers over the heads of America (vide Horne’s books).

An example of that would be the (probable) disassembly of the “murder rifle” and taking part of the barrel assembly (I think it was) into the funeral home to place Oswald’s dead palm print on a part of the gun that is covered up when assembled.

Anyway, although there is no justification for the murder (or any flat-out murder), you did a bang-up job (pun intended—JFK “banging” lots of gals) of depicting a pretty creepy personal life for the guy in the limo, and his ilk.

And I seethe that smug, self-justifying folks (in any generation) think they have the right to decide facets of other folks’ lives because the Upper Crust Knows Best. Or the Dirty Neck, if you want to use the Cowboy-Yankee allegory.

Although (as you can tell from my blog) I am more of a DC Comics guy than a Marvel guy, Stan Lee summed it up well in an early issue of Spider-Man when he said the now-clich├ęd words, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The moral choices that for you or me might involve cutting somebody off in traffic versus letting them in front of you, to another might mean pulling a trigger or dropping a bomb. Or cheating on your wife, or giving up drinking (to characterize two recent presidents).

I could rant for hours, but let me just say that I liked your book and was disturbed by it too (some of the thoughts or ideas) –- as you intended! (smile) Thanks for the kind reply.

In the long run, we must have faith in God’s eternal justice, while we do our best to do what is right in our own lives.

Thanks again for your time,

Mark Alfred

And Mr Helppie's final note,
I LOVED this response from you! Your passion really comes through in a very engaging way and I can see why your blogs are so popular with your readers.

I grew up a DC Comics guy 100%. My favorites were Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and the Flash. (Though I also did enjoy Justice League of America.) Add in Mad Magazine and I was a pretty happy kid. That's undoubtedly where my strong sense of justice and fair play were formed. I always root for the good guys to win.

Patrick's story has a strong sense of justice and morality in it. I drew upon many elements of Shakespeare and Greek tragedy to craft the plot and the characters. Iago certainly can be seen in Grant.

I meant the story to be disturbing for the reader on many levels so the reader could question what they thought they knew versus what really happened. Lyndon Johnson's background was profoundly disturbing in many ways, but JFK's callous treatment of Jackie was almost too much to deal with. That's why I wanted to juxtapose Pam and Patrick's loving marriage with the contrast of JFK and Jackie.

Stay in touch - I enjoy your insights.


So, whatdo you think about the JFK murder, friends?  It still DOES make a difference.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Book Review: Kennedy Must Be Killed

Boy howdy, this is an interesting book.

In 1976, a book by Carl Oglesby, The Yankee and Cowboy War, posited that the "old money" fellows of the snooty Eastern Seaboard were, and had been, engaged in a power struggle with the rough-and-tumble "new money" exemplified by the Texas Oil barons and their ilk.  Cowboys and Yankees.

A view of the Kennedy assassination similar to Oglesby's viewpoint is expressed in this novel by Chuck Helppie.

It varies between a third-person "framing" narrative set in the 1978 world of the HSCA -- The House Select Committee on Assassinations -- and the first-person narrative of Patrick McCarthy, a man who dedicates his life to serving his country.

It's up to the reader to decide if McCarthy succeeds.

First off, let's get my pet peeve out of the way, proofreading.  I would give this book a 98 out of 100.  There are only a couple of typoes, along with the sadly typical use of "pouring" (which you do with a pitcher of water) when the author meant to say "poring" (which is examining or studying something).

This is a novel that uses the character of Patrick McCarthy to cover a period from 1976 to 1978 and the American scene.  Without spoiling the particulars of the book, let's just say that McCarthy meets most of the people involved, or suspected of being involved, when the JFK assassination is discussed.

I must say that the story is told in such a way that yep, it makes sense for this person to have been here at this time.  It makes sense at this time for McCarthy to have been at so-and-so location, and to have met a certain person.  To me, at least, the person of McCarthy as a guy trying to do what's asked of him, for his country's sake, makes sense.

I too have had some self-examining moments when I realize how much the things I have intended, have gone wrong.  Not to this extent, of course.

As to historicity:
In my database of 1900+ books I have in my "Fortress of Markitude" here, this Kennedy Must Be Killed makes 81 that I have categorized under "assassinations."  And, yes, I have read them. 

I actually can't come up with anything in my little ol' memory that conflicts with something presented historically in Kennedy Must Be Killed.  Now, I didn't sit down and check anything off a checklist, but nothing "rang false" to me as I read the book.  A heck of a lot of exposition is handled pretty well as discussions between McCarthy and his two college buddies, who take on other rolse in life as time passes.

Now, even this book at 600 pages must necessarily pass over a LOT of the things entailed in the JFK murder.  For some in-depth creepiness, read the five volumes of  Inside the Assassinations Records Review Board, by Douglas P Horne.  Horne was the Chief Analyst for Military Records for the Assassinations Records Review Board.  He has read the records that prove such things as the Zapruder film alterations and the falsified autopsy results, and such -- all things that could be accomplished by the folks described in Kennedy Must Be Killed

So, it's a pretty interesting book, and covers a lot of possible rationales behind the folks who, beyond reasonable doubts, were involved in the murder of a duly elected President.  Mr Helppie does a really good job of presenting WHY these people were able to rationalize such a coup d'etat as service to their country.

One depressing observation I'd like to make is that both the cowboys and the yankees are elitists and fascists.  They feel that we poor plebians exist only to serve the "greater good" of whatever our country requires of us. 

Saddest of all, they think that they have the right to decide what that greater good is.

So, if I've piqued your interest, check out the book!
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