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Whodunit?

The Craziest JFK Conspiracies

Donald Uhrbrock/Getty

From the Secret Service agent whose gun went off accidentally to alien abduction, here are 12 experts’ favorite conspiracy theories about who killed JFK and why.

Fifty years ago, John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas and Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the crime. Depending on whom you ask, however, that may be either all we really know about the assassination or all there is to know. No crime in American history has inspired as much debate—or as many books—as the events of November 22nd, 1963. Not all conspiracies are created equal; we asked twelve scholars of the crime of the century for the most unbelievable theories they’ve ever heard.

Guns and Germs

How I Write: Jared Diamond

Alberto Cristofari/Contrasto/Redux

The famed geographer, whose latest book ‘The World Until Yesterday’ is out in paperback, discusses bird-watching, the size of his computer, why he wants to bring Bach back to life, and why you shouldn’t write a book until you have tenure.

Describe your morning routine.My morning on any day, regardless of whether I’m writing or not, is the same. I get up around 6am, and I go for a bird walk on my street. I live in a dead end rural canyon in Los Angeles, which is very good for bird-watching. I just came back ten minutes ago from my morning walk, which lasts between an hour and a half and two hours. My bird list for my street is 149 species! Pretty good, by North American standards.

Parental Injustice

Why Kimmel’s Lies Matter

Randy Holmes/ABC, via AP

Taking candy from children, and then laughing at their tears—as Jimmy Kimmel has been doing for three years on his show—is morally not OK.

This story was originally posted on author Sam Harris’s blog.Last Christmas, my friends Mark and Jessica spent the morning opening presents with their daughter, Rachel, who had just turned four. After a few hours of excitement, feelings of holiday lethargy and boredom descended on the family—until Mark suddenly had a brilliant idea for how they could have a lot more fun.Jessica was reading on the couch while Rachel played with her new dolls on the living room carpet.

Murder, Sex, and the Writing Life

Marty Lederhandler/AP

How do you tell the story of one of the 20th century’s larger-than-life literary figures? Norman Mailer’s latest biographer J. Michael Lennon talks literary reputation, omens, women, and the never written.

It took J. Michael Lennon seven years to write Norman Mailer: A Double Life, the 900- page authorized biography of Lennon’s longtime friend. But when you think about it, that’s pretty fast.Mailer’s very public life was as rich in incident as a 19th-century novel, fueled by what his longtime rival and friend Gore Vidal called “an extremely radical imagination.” Besides the familiar litany of Mailer’s triumphs and humiliations, Lennon read Mailer’s almost 50,000 letters and the more than 7,000 interviews that Mailer gave in his lifetime.

Paperback Writer

The Underrated Novels I’ve Edited

The veteran New Yorker and Random House editor, whose new memoir is ‘My Mistake,’ picks the most under-appreciated books he’s edited.

In book publishing, in which I was in for 15 years, eventually becoming Editor in Chief of Random House, about five out of six books don’t “work.” (Or six out of seven, seven out of eight, etc., depending on what kinds of accounting shell games are or are not being played in the back office.)  That is, they don’t earn back their advances, their sales are negligible, and/or their reviews are scanty and ignorant.  But almost every book, except those that are published most cynically and graspingly, has the passionate support of its editor.

Correspondence

Jackie’s Letter to Khrushchev

Underwood Archives/Getty

About a week after JFK was assassinated, Jacqueline Kennedy wrote to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev ‘on one of the last nights I will spend in the White House.’

Washington, December 1, 1963.Dear Mr. Chairman President,I would like to thank you for sending Mr. Mikoyan as your representative to my husband’s funeral.He looked so upset when he came through the line, and I was very moved.I tried to give him a message for you that day—but as it was such a terrible day for me, I do not know if my words came out as I meant them to.So now, in one of the last nights I will spend in the White House, in one of the last letters I will write on this paper at the White House, I would like to write you my message.

Fighters

This Week’s Hot Reads

From a season spent embedded with the New York Jets to a biography of a self-mythologizing Pinkerton detective.

Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football by Nicholas Dawidoff.As we learn more about the long-term effects of concussions on retired players, their Faustian-bargain has become harder and harder to ignore on Sundays. Nicholas Dawidoff’s Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football is a timely book. Embedded with the New York Jets during the 2011 NFL season, Dawidoff details just how much the players and coaches sacrifice for the game, both in terms of physical wellbeing and sheer devotion of time and effort.

Desired

Of Sin and College

Kevin Landwer-Johan/Getty

From novelist Robert Stone comes a surprisingly new novel, ‘Death of a Black-Haired Girl’, set on a college campus and suffused with questions of sin, judgment and punishment.

What’s this, a college novel from Robert Stone, our foremost chronicler of adventurous Americans in foreign lands? Yes, and not set in some metropolitan university that might attract his dangerous aliens, either, but on an elite whitebread campus in a small city close to New Haven. Stone did teach for many years at Yale, but his novels since Dog Soldiers have taken place outside the United States: A Flag For Sunrise and Children of Light south of the Rio Grande, Outerbridge Reach on the high seas, Damascus Gate in Israel, Bay of Souls in Haiti.

R.I.P.

Author Barbara Park Dies

Wrote the “Junie B. Jones” series.

Barbara Park said she wasn’t grown-up enough to write grown-up books, but she certainly made a lot of children happy. The author of the beloved Junie B. Jones series died after a long battle with ovarian cancer, her family confirmed on Sunday. She was 66. Park wrote more than 30 illustrated books about Junie B. Jones, kindergartener and first-grader, since 1992. The books went on to sell millions of copies—as well as draw ire for Junie’s bad grammar and mischievous ways (in fact, it is one of the top 100 banned books). Park said she herself was a troublemaker who often was in the principal’s office, and she said she was inspired by Judy Blume to write for children. Park is survived by her husband, Richard, and their two sons.

Read it at People

22 Days of JFK

‘It Will Not Be Lyndon’

Anonymous

Just days before he was assassinated, JFK confided to his secretary that he wanted to replace his vice president when he ran for reelection—he didn’t think LBJ was fit for president.

President Kennedy’s secretary Evelyn Lincoln wrote in her 1968 book Kennedy and Johnson that November 19, 1963 had been “one of the most pleasant days” she could remember in the White House. Kennedy’s schedule was light and he had spent long stretches of time in the rocking chair in her office, speaking pensively as he rocked. “You know, if I am reelected in ’64,” he said. “I am going to spend more and more time making government service an honorable career,” adding, “I am going to advocate changing some of the outmoded rules and regulations in Congress, such as the seniority rule.

Sunday Talk

Myth of American Decline

DPA/ZUMApress.com

Josef Joffe on American exceptionalism, why Europeans hate Israel, and why China may not be the next superpower.

Josef Joffe is that rare European: a well-known and respected public intellectual, an academic with sinecures at prestigious universities on both sides of the Atlantic, the publisher-editor of the left-leaning German newspaper Die Zeit, and a staunch defender of the United States against reflexive and voguish European anti-Americanism. In The Myth of America's Decline, his first English-language book since a treatise of the “imperial temptation of America,” Joffe argues that despite consistent predictions of decline—and much to the irritation of the European cognoscenti—America will not be displaced as a superpower any time soon.

R.I.P.

Writer Doris Lessing Dies

Martin Cleaver/AP

Nobel Laureate was 94.

Doris Lessing, the Nobel prize-winning author of The Golden Notebook, died Sunday. She was 94. She is the author of over 50 novels, including Memoirs of a Survivor, The Summer Before Dark, and Under My Skin. She became the oldest Nobel Laureate in 2007, at the age of 88. Born in what is now Zimbabwe, Lessing published her first novel, The Grass Is Singing in 1950. Her 1962 novel The Golden Notebook was considered a “feminist Bible.” She died in London.

Read it at Guardian

Summer in the City

The Bronx Riviera

Wayne Lawrence/INSTITUTE

In ‘Orchard Beach,’ photographer Wayne Lawrence honors the working class people who flock to the Bronx’s only beach.

Facing History

Should Former Nazis Face Trial?

THOMAS KIENZLE/Getty

In Germany a prosecutor has recommended 49 men and women who allegedly served as guards at Auschwitz face trial, but what’s the point? Leonard Rosen says history will judge.

On September 3rd of this year Kurt Schrimm, Germany’s special prosecutor for investigating Nazi-era crimes, recommended bringing charges against 49 men and women who allegedly served as guards at Auschwitz. In the German system, the special prosecutor reviews potential cases and recommends for action only those that meet the highest standards of evidence. It is then up to local prosecutors where suspected criminals live to mount cases or not.

Snap, Snap

Jordan’s Underground Slam Poets

Mohammad Hannon/AP

Most of them are young and female—and their underground slam poetry is speaking truth to power in their conservative Arab culture.

Aysha, 25, stands at the front of a small, brightly lit room in Jabal Al Weibdeh, one of Amman’s oldest neighborhoods. The fluorescent light is somehow tempered by the apartment’s soft and eclectic furniture—a clumsy circle of wooden chairs and faded couches. Although it is filled with people, the room is silent, waiting for Aysha to begin to speak.“Tell your governments, the only kingdom my generation will bow to is the one between our temples,” she chants, her voice swelling in the tiny space, as the sound of snapping fingers cuts through the air.

Longreads

The Week’s Best Reads

The Daily Beast

From a harrowing pregnancy at the edge of the world to creationists’ last stand against science education, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.

Thanksgiving in Mongolia Ariel Levy, The New Yorker A journalist’s harrowing, heartbreaking story of her miscarriage while on assignment in a remote corner of Asia.Why We’re Allowed to Hate Silicon Valley Evgeny Morozov, Frankfurter Allgemeine It knows how to talk about tools but is barely capable of talking about social, political, and economic systems that these tools enable and disable, amplify and pacify.The 40-Year Slump Harold Meyer, The American Prospect From 1947 to 1974, American workers brought home most of the wealth they produced.

Whiny Tidings

Palin’s Naughty List

Julio Cortez/AP

She didn’t write about ‘Protecting the Heart of Christmas’ at all—instead, the eternally offended governor may have penned the perfect manual for another holiday altogether: Festivus.

Initially I planned to ignore this week’s release of Good Tidings and Great Joy, Sarah Palin’s book waging war on the war on Christmas. Few political hucksters milking the culture war for an easy buck peddle antics more shopworn than the annual fear-mongering that secularist Scrooges are coming for our creches.But then I couldn’t stop wondering: What happens when the Queen of Grievance takes up arms on behalf of the Prince of Peace’s birthday?I’ll tell you what happens.

City of Angels

America’s Best Food Town

Axel Koester/The New York Times via Redux

What’s turned Los Angeles into a culinary boomtown? Chef Roy Choi and New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear know.

If you want to fall in love with Los Angeles, have a meal with Roy Choi and Dana Goodyear. That should do it.On paper Choi and Goodyear have little in common. Choi was born in South Korea and raised in Southern California; poor in Koreatown, better off in Anaheim, prosperous in Coto de Caza. Goodyear comes from WASPier, wider ranging stock: Princeton, Cleveland, London, Bethesda, St. Louis, New York, and finally, a few years ago, the upscale bohemia of Venice Beach.

Holy Cow!

Fifty Shades Movie: What We Know

The Daily Beast

Get out the whips and paddles, the ‘Fifty Shades’ flick will be rated NC-17. But there won't be Anastasia’s ‘Inner Goddess’ monologue. You know you want to read more.

In May 2011, Fifty Shades of Grey was released as an e-book, launching an immediate sensation. The trilogy, which started as Twilight fan fiction, was published by Random House a year later. In the series, author E.L. James describes the seduction of virginal college student Anastasia Steele by Christian Grey, a beautiful billionaire and secret sadomasochist. Fifty Shades went on to sell more than 90 million copies worldwide, ensuring that we’ll never look at a tie in the same way again.

Blasphemous

The American Prophet of Loss

Getty

American novelist Robert Stone writes bedtime stories of a kind that David Samuels has always liked—the kind that end badly. They discuss Stone’s new novel.

There was a time, a little more than a decade ago when I lost a thread that I had been following up until that point, and I was left with nothing. So I sat in a house by the ocean in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts and read all the novels that Robert Stone had then written—Hall of Mirrors, Dog Soldiers, A Flag for Sunrise, Children of Light, and Damascus Gate. They were bedtime stories I could trust—the kind that ended badly.I remember one day that I spent in a bathtub looking out at the ocean and re-reading the end of Outerbridge Reach.

How I Write