Thursday, November 22, 2012

JFK and the Unspeakable, by James Douglass: A Review

A few months ago, activist theologian James Douglass published his long-awaited Gandhi and the Unspeakable: His Final Experiment in Truth.  Douglass explained the genesis of the book in a lecture given last year at Marquette University.  His publisher had actually contracted him to write about the Malcolm X and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King assassinations.  But during the course of his research, he realized that it would be better to examine the murder of Mohandas Gandhi first, because an understanding of his death could lay the foundation for further delving into the motive forces behind political violence. 

Douglass refers to these motive forces as the “Unspeakable.”   Roughly put, the Unspeakable describes the conflict between the powerlust and expansion manifested by the national security state, and the global need for peace.  The Unspeakable entails the commitment of leaders to foster peace, despite the conscious knowledge that they could pay for that pacifism with their lives.

Douglass first expounded on this premise in his 2008 book JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.   This volume offers very little in terms of new information about the JFK assassination, although its presentation of known facts is quite impressive in itself.   The true strength of JFK and the Unspeakable is the clarity it offers of the time, the situation and the stakes. 

JFK and the Unspeakable covers disparate issues in a coherent way, among them:  the logistics of the assassination in Dallas, and the aborted assassination attempt planned in Chicago during the first week of November 1963; the strategy of rapprochement taken by JFK, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro; the secret diplomacy these three leaders engaged in to bypass warmongering hardliners in the Pentagon and the Kremlin; the numerous attempts by US Intel to undermine Kennedy’s peace efforts in Cuba and Vietnam; and the abject hatred that military, intelligence and financial elites had toward the President and his policies, which titans of myriad industries–especially steel and oil–saw as anti-business.

Most important, Douglass gives us a deeper understanding of Kennedy’s thinking, and why it drove him to seek rapprochement; to stand up to the Washington, Wall Street and Langley insiders who stupidly thought that nuclear war was winnable; and to seek peace with the leaders that these insiders had come to demonize.  The President’s reasoning was partly spiritual/moral.  As a theologian, Douglass goes into great detail about this.  At the same time, Kennedy also had very pragmatic concerns.  Conservative estimates of the first-strike strategy advocated by some cold-war hawks projected 750,000,000 dead.  That’s five times the death toll of World War II. 

The stakes were that high. 

Kennedy’s death in large part made the Vietnam war possible.  Yet, Douglass makes a compelling argument that Jack’s life played a critical role in keeping us away from a nuclear Stone Age.

JFK and the Unspeakable is an absolute must-read--not just for conspiracy researchers and historians, but for everyone who gives a damn about anything.  Especially now, as the drums of war beat their cadences in such places as Iran and Syria, Douglass’ observations offer us sage insight into the persistence and the self-destructive nihilism of the national security state.


Links to this post


  • At 10:37 AM, Blogger Charles Gramlich said…

    Sounds like a very good book to start my education on the subject. The Kennedy book that is.

  • At 4:10 PM, Blogger Shaedynlee said…

    X, I'm adding you to my links, click through and come see me, I think you'll understand.. P.S sorry for the Gman style subterfuge but sometimes that's just how I roll ;-)

  • At 1:48 AM, Blogger X. Dell said…

    Charles, this book would be a good start in any JFK collection. Can't recommend it enough.

    Shaedynlee, I read your latest statement. I understand. Thank you for letting me know. Best to you always.

  • At 12:46 PM, Blogger Candy Minx said…

    Gee, that does sound like a great book. You know I went to Dealey Plaza a couple years ago. It was an incredible experience. I'm really enjoying reading the past few always X Dell you are so detail oriented and thoughtful. I feel lucky to "know" you here in blogland...

    I blogged about Dealey too...don't know if you saw or remember..

  • At 10:59 PM, Blogger X. Dell said…

    Candy, I liked the pictures of Dealey Plaza. You've given me an idea for next year's posts.

  • At 4:09 AM, Blogger Roxanne Galpin said…

    This is a great review. JFK and that period of political history has long fascinated me and so I will definitely seek this book out. A moral politician. Perhaps Kennedy was America's last one?

  • At 3:01 PM, Blogger Chris Benjamin said…

    Sounds like an excellent book. Makes me want to read it, and also Stephen King's new book on the subject.

    I wonder what will be written about this time, and this president, years from now.

  • At 12:17 AM, Blogger X. Dell said…

    Roxanne, the irony is that given the President's revolving-bed habit many, especially in conservative circles, view Kennedy as somewhat immoral. But I tend to think of something that I came across many years ago in the writings of Wolfgang Borchert, a German who upon looking back at the carnage of Nazi oppression--and his participation of it as a Wehrmacht soldier--led him to see morality not in the obedience to priest and collars, or an aversion to T&A (or auf Deutsch, Busen), but in how we treat each other.

    I don't recall mentioning anything about Stephen King, Chris:-) But I get your point.

    Your question is a good one. As Ray Bradbury wrote, "He who controls the past, controls the future." Perhaps he who controls the future will control the past.

  • At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I read Warren Commission report at age 11 and knew then it was BS. I bought this book after reading this blog entry and can't put it down. Confirms what I've known intuitively my whole life. Thanks!

  • At 5:39 PM, Blogger X. Dell said…

    Hello, Anonymous. Welcome to The X-Spot. Douglass did a tremendous job with this tome, and it shows. Glad to have been of service to both him and you.

    You're hardly alone in your assessment of the Warren Commission findings. The vast majority of Americans don't have faith in it, according to polls. It's just that, at age 11, you discovered that much earlier. Me, I've only made it through one volume, so far. My hat's off to you.

  • At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi X Dell. Both John and Robert Kennedy were near and dear to my Irish/Catholic family's heart. The devastation we felt when he was murdered was palpable and I was determined, even as a young child, to find out what happened. Thanks for sharing this book - it's a breath of fresh air on this darkest days of our history.

  • At 12:42 PM, Anonymous ShirlB said…

    Hi, X-Dell. Just found your site while looking for info on the Ghandi book. I read JFK and the Unspeakable not long after it came out and found it excellent. I tried to go to the interview at Maquette U. without success and looked for it on YouTube. Here is the link if you want to add it. Searching the university site was unproductive.

  • At 6:59 PM, Blogger X. Dell said…

    Hello, ShirlB. Welcome to the X-Spot. Thank you (1) for stopping by, (2) for alerting me to the link, and (3) providing the correct one.


Post a Comment


Create a Link

<< Home

Ganesh Map
Click to know more Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5Episode 6Episode 7Episode 8Episode 9Episode 10Episode 11Episode 12Episode 13Episode 14Episode 15Episode 16
  • Alien Abductions
  • April Fool's Day
  • Mae Brussell
  • Cause-Stalking
  • Chappaqiddick
  • The Children of God Cult
  • Sam Cooke
  • Culture Jamming
  • Theresa Duncan & Jeremy Blake
  • Exploitation Movies
  • The False Memory Syndrome Foundation
  • Fox, Monsanto and Mystery Milk
  • Games
  • The Gemstone File
  • Gik-Gik
  • The Golden Ganesh (History)
  • The Golden Ganesh (The Radio Drama)
  • The Gulf Breeze UFOs
  • The Grail Mystery
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Hitlerism vs. Nazism
  • The International Church of Christ
  • Janis Joplin
  • Legends, Hoaxes and the Big Lie
  • Lyndon LaRouche and Jeremiah Duggan
  • John Lennon
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • McMartin Preschool
  • MJ-12
  • Nurse Nayirah
  • Ode to Miss Texas
  • Operational Finance
  • The Paul-Is-Dead Rumor
  • The Paul-Is-Dead Rumor, Revisited
  • Perverse Science: Biological Determinism
  • Project MK-ULTRA
  • Ruminations on the JFK Assassination
  • Anne Sexton
  • The Summer of 1947
  • The Tate-LaBianca-Hinman-Parent-Hinman-Shea Murders
  • The Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA)
  • Urban Legends
  • The VENONA Ciphers and the Rosenbergs
  • Watergate
  • 9/11
  • Assassinations
  • Chappaquiddick
  • Cults
  • Cyberculture
  • Domestic ops
  • Esoterica
  • Espionage
  • Fiction
  • Games
  • The Golden Ganesh (history)
  • Humor
  • Mafia
  • Media
  • Mind control
  • Nanis
  • New World Order
  • Operation CHAOS
  • Paranoia
  • Parapsychology
  • Personal stuff
  • Political theory
  • Pop Culture
  • Psychology
  • Shameless Plug Division
  • Ufology
  • Weird Science

  • ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------s