'Oswald's Ghost' - A Documentary



By Duane Dudek of the Journal Sentinel

Although I mostly get the New Yorker magazine for the cartoons, I read the new issue on Barack Obama from cover to cover.

It included two fascinating behind the scenes looks at the mechanics of the campaigns of Obama and John McCain - what worked, what didn't and why - and a long piece by David Remnick on how Obama did not transcend race so much, as personify both sides of his mixed race heritage.

Meanwhile on the season finale of Bill Maher's show on HBO, the host pressed P. Diddy, of all people, on the question of Obama's personal safety. And while the question seemed bizarre, presumptuous and discourteous another program "Oswald's Ghost," on the PBS series "American Experience," served as a reminder of how often political assassinations brutalized our national optimism.

And the assassination of president John F. Kennedy, occurred 45 years ago tomorrow. "Oswald's Ghost" explored the various conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination.

I've long felt the grainy Zapruder footage of the assassination was the most important film ever made, and chronicles not just the death of a president but a loss of innocence that haunts us still.

I had a copy of the Zapruder film; it was stolen from my car a few years back. It was sent to met mysteriously by an anonymous reader after a column I wrote about it. And when I taught at UWM, I would show it to students who would gasp all these years later at the "pink mist" of the head shot.

Like everything else, the Zapruder film is easy to find on the internet in various versions, some of which isolate camera angles and interpret every frame in an attempt to understand what happened that day.

In "Oswald's Ghost" Norman Mailer, who was a long time conspiracy buff, said he finally concluded that it would have been impossible to keep such a conspiracy secret for so long a time, and believed Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

But most Americans continue to believe that the killing was part of a conspiracy.

'Oswald's Ghost' on PBS
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