Not in Your Lifetime: The Defining Book on the J.F.K. Assassination


“An awesome work, with the power of a plea as from Zola for justice … a model of its kind of journalism.” —
Los Angeles Times

“Fresh and important … skillfully and compellingly written … serves to dramatize, as no previous book has done, the superficiality of the Warren Commission’s investigation … It reveals the appalling degree to which the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the various branches of Military Intelligence have failed to cooperate with the official investigations.” —
The New York Times

“The closest thing we have to that literary chimera, a definitive work on the events of Dallas … admirable reporting and compelling evidence.” —
The Boston Globe

“An important piece of work … exceptionally well written, with all the tone and tension of an Eric Ambler thriller.” —
The New York Review of Books

“A dark fascination, the deepest reading yet of the mysteries that whirl around that heartshaking moment in Dallas … a brilliant work of investigation and a subterranean history of our time.” —Don DeLillo

“Monumentally important.” —
Philadelphia Daily News

“A powerhouse of a book … [Not in Your Lifetime] proves to any reasoning reader that at all events the Oswald story handed to the public was a pack of lies … tops the drama of any fictional thriller.” —
New York Post

“Huge, exhaustive, deeply unsettling … I now think that it is possible that the Kennedy assassination was the most far-reaching state crime ever committed in this country.” —
The Village Voice

“Superb investigative disciplines … and so readable.” —Norman Mailer

“Tough-minded … comprehensive.” —
Chicago Tribune

“Careful and disquieting analysis of the mysteries of Dallas.” —Arthur Schlesinger Jr., two-time Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner and former Special Assistant to President Kennedy

“This authoritative book opens a box of secrets. It offers disquieting, even terrifying, answers to the questions we have all been asking.” —Len Deighton

“Of all the books written about the Kennedy assassination, this is the first one that has convinced me there is a plausible trail of evidence leading to a conspiracy.” —William Attwood, former Ambassador and Special Assistant to the U.S. delegation at the U.N.

“So lucidly arranged and so forcefully mounted that I now feel compelled to believe that there was a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy.” —Robert MacNeil, former Executive Editor of the
MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour

“A thoughtful and responsible book.” —Former Congressman Judge Richardson Preyer, House Select Committee on Assassinations

“Deserves to be read and taken seriously by all those who care about truth or justice.” —G. Robert Blakey, former Chief Counsel, House Select Committee on Assassinations

“Right on the button … a choice book for the budding student of America’s crime of the century.” —
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Not in Your Lifetime
The Defining Book on the
J.F.K. Assassination
Anthony Summers

for Colm, Fionn, and Lara



Main Characters

Chapter 1: Ambush

I. DALLAS: The Open-and-Shut Case

Chapter 2: The Evidence Before You

Chapter 3: How Many Shots? Where From?

Chapter 4: Other Gunmen?

Chapter 5: Did Oswald Do It?

Chapter 6: The Other Murder

Chapter 7: A Sphinx for Texas

II. OSWALD: Maverick or Puppet?

Chapter 8: Red Faces

Chapter 9: Cracks in the Canvas

Chapter 10: Mischief from Moscow

Chapter 11: An “Intelligence Matter”

Chapter 12: Oswald and the Baron

III. CONSPIRACIES: Cuba and the Mob

Chapter 13: The Company and the Crooks

Chapter 14: The Mob Loses Patience

Chapter 15: Six Options for History

Chapter 16: Viva Fidel?

Chapter 17: Blind Man’s Bluff in New Orleans

Chapter 18: The Cuban Conundrum

IV. ENDGAME: Deception and Tragedy

Chapter 19: Exits and Entrances in Mexico City

Chapter 20: Facts and Appearances

Chapter 21: Countdown

Chapter 22: Casting the First Stone

Chapter 23: The Good Ole Boy

Chapter 24: Hints and Deceptions

Image Gallery

Illustration Credits


Sources and Notes


About the Author



fter fifty years, does the assassination of President Kennedy still matter? It is now as far from us in time as the assassination of Abraham Lincoln was for people living during World War I. Nevertheless, the murder still haunts America and the wider world. For those who were adults at the time, the killing of President Kennedy is a generational milestone. For those much younger, what happened in Dallas persists as a spectral presence even in this new century.

There are multiple reasons why the assassination lingers in the public mind. No other death of a single individual—and one so young, embodying the hopes of a new generation—so traumatized an era. It stays with us in part because John F. Kennedy was killed during the Cold War, at a time when nuclear war seemed a real and constant threat; and in part, too, because November 22, 1963, signaled an end to the sense of cozy security of the previous decade, the waning of public trust in authority. Above all, though, the assassination stays with us because of a perception by millions around the world that there is a mystery—that the full truth of what happened remains unknown.

The idea that the murder of the 35th President of the United States was the result of a conspiracy, not the act of a lone assassin, was there from the start. Who might have been behind such a plot depended on a person’s political view, on what they read, on what broadcast made an impression at any given time. Had one or both of America’s Communist foes, the Soviet Union or its upstart protégé Cuba, had a hand in the assassination? Had anti-Castro exiles killed Kennedy? Or the Mafia? Or the CIA, or the “military industrial complex”? Or two or more of the above combined?

What the polls have consistently shown is that millions do not believe what the official inquiry that followed the assassination, the Warren Commission, told them happened—that a loner named Lee Harvey Oswald, who had no known motive, killed the President. 74 percent of those Americans polled in a January 2013 study believed—to the contrary—that there had been a conspiracy. A 2009 CBS poll put the figure as high as 76 percent. 74 percent of respondents, according to the same poll, believed there had been “an official cover-up to keep the public from learning the truth about the assassination.” The vast majority, 77 percent, thought the full truth would never be known.

This book was first published three decades ago as
, a title deriving not from any fixed view of mine but because a new probe, by the House Assassinations Committee, had found there had “probably” been a plot. Four editions later, when I updated the book in 1998, a new publisher agreed to the title it now carries—
Not in Your Lifetime
. I should explain.

In early 1964, as the Commission began its work, Chief Justice Earl Warren was asked if all the investigation’s information would be made public. He replied, “Yes, there will come a time.
[author’s emphasis]. I am not referring to anything especially, but there may be some things that would involve security. This would be preserved but not made public.” Warren was thinking of alleged assassin Oswald’s visits to the Soviet Union and Mexico, he explained later, and there may indeed have been national security ramifications at that time.

The Soviet, Mexican, and Cuban aspects of the case certainly were hypersensitive at the time—and in some respects may have implications today.
Step by step down the years, however, and to the chagrin of some federal agencies, millions of pages of documents have been released. The JFK Act of 1992—more properly the President
John F. Kennedy Assassinations Records Collection Act—brought an avalanche of material into the public domain.

Fifty years on, however, we do not have it all. Some Army Intelligence and Secret Service records have been destroyed. There are questions about the whereabouts of some Naval Intelligence material. In 2012, the National Archives stated that rather less than its 1 percent of assassination-related records—out of a total of some five million pages—will not be made public until 2017. It is not clear, and the Archives administration has not counted, just how many documents are actually involved. It is known, though, that the Central Intelligence Agency has withheld 1,171 documents as “national security classified.” Some of them, we know, are records that researchers very much want to see—in particular, documents relating to former CIA officers whose activities have aroused justifiable suspicion.

Researchers have reacted with outrage. Professor Robert Blakey, who was Chief Counsel for Congress’ assassination investigation in the late 1970s, criticized the National Archives for using “bureaucratic jargon to obfuscate its failure to vindicate the public interest in transparency.” He laid the blame, though, not on the Archives so much as the CIA. “I think,” he wrote as this book went to press, “the Agency is playing the Archives.”

Remaining documents will be released in 2017, the Archives administration has promised, “unless the President personally certifies on a document by document basis that continued postponement is necessary.” Full releases or no full releases, however, the lack of a real official will to investigate—long ago—means that outstanding mysteries about the assassination will never be resolved. This new edition of my book has been heavily rewritten, shorn of items that now seem redundant, and updated in light of information now available. Its title remains, however,

Anthony Summers
Connecticut and Ireland

Main Characters

The author personally spoke with forty-eight of the principal characters listed below—along with many more interviewed for this book.

John F. Kennedy: the 35th President of the United States

The Oswald family

Lee Harvey Oswald: the lone assassin, according to the first official inquiry. A later finding by a congressional committee suggested he had at least one accomplice.

Marguerite Oswald: Oswald’s mother

Marina Oswald (née Nikolaevna Prusakova): Oswald’s wife. They were married in the Soviet Union and she accompanied him back to the United States.

Robert Oswald: Oswald’s elder brother

Charles “Dutz” Murret: Oswald’s uncle in New Orleans, connected to organized crime

Lillian Murret: Charles Murret’s wife

Significant individuals

William Alexander: Assistant District Attorney in Dallas

Guy Banister: former senior FBI agent, allegedly involved with Oswald in New Orleans

Comer Clarke: British reporter who claimed Fidel Castro told him that Oswald spoke of killing Kennedy while in Mexico City

John Connally: Governor of Texas, seriously wounded in shooting that killed the President

Contreras: Mexican leftist student who said he met a man who identified himself as Oswald but who may have been an impostor

Jesse Curry: Dallas police chief

Nelson Delgado: marine who served with Oswald

George de Mohrenschildt: Russian émigré, linked to U.S. intelligence, who associated with Oswald on his return from the Soviet Union

David Ferrie: former airline pilot with links to Oswald, the anti-Castro movement, and organized crime

Captain Will Fritz: headed the Dallas police Homicide unit and questioned Lee Harvey Oswald

Jim Garrison: New Orleans District Attorney who opened a local assassination investigation in 1967

“Alek Hidell”: pseudonym Oswald used, probably derived from the name of John Heindel, a marine who had served with him. This name was used to purchase the rifle found at the Texas School Book Depository.

Marie Hyde: American tourist who, in the company of her acquaintances Monica Kramer and Rita Naman, twice encountered Oswald in the Soviet Union

Lyndon B. Johnson: Vice President who became President on the death of President Kennedy

Robert F. Kennedy: President’s brother and Attorney General of the United States

Monica Kramer: U.S. tourist in the Soviet Union who twice encountered Oswald in the company of her friend Rita Naman and their acquaintance Marie Hyde

Clare Booth Luce: former U.S. diplomat and financial supporter of anti-Castro exiles, married to Henry Luce, the publisher of

Thomas Mann: U.S. Ambassador in Mexico City

John McVickar: U.S. consular official at the Moscow Embassy who dealt with Oswald

Yuri Merezhinsky: Soviet citizen present when Oswald met his future wife, Marina

Yuri Nosenko: KGB officer who defected to the United States after the assassination, claiming detailed knowledge of the Soviet handling of Oswald

Ruth Paine: friend of Marina Oswald in Texas. Oswald stayed at her home on the eve of the assassination.

Delphine Roberts: New Orleans right-wing activist and secretary to Guy Banister (her daughter was also called Delphine)

Jack Ruby (née Rubenstein): Dallas nightclub owner, with lifelong links to organized crime, who shot and killed Oswald on November 24

Richard Snyder: Consul at U.S. Embassy in Moscow who handled Oswald, had worked for the CIA

J. D. Tippit: the Dallas policeman shot within hours of the President’s murder. Oswald was identified as his killer.

Edward Voebel: New Orleans schoolfriend of Oswald who was in the Civil Air Patrol with him

Major General Edwin Walker: right-wing agitator and victim of an assassination attempt—apparently by Lee Harvey Oswald—in April 1963

Abraham Zapruder: amateur cameraman who shot a film of the assassination that became key evidence

Individuals associated with U.S. intelligence

Angleton: CIA Counterintelligence chief whose depart-
ment collected information on Oswald before the assassination. He liaised with the Warren Commission, and—in 1971—ordered material on Oswald to be removed from the home of CIA station chief in Mexico City

“Maurice Bishop”: cover name reportedly used by a U.S. intelligence officer alleged to have met with Oswald before the assassination and to have tried to fabricate evidence linking him to Cuban intelligence. Controversy has swirled around the possibility that he may have been one and the same as the late David Phillips, a senior CIA officer involved in anti-Castro operations.

Captain Alexis Davison: Assistant Air Attaché who doubled as doctor at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. He had intelligence connections and met Oswald

Allen Dulles: Director of the CIA until late 1961, later member of Warren Commission

Desmond FitzGerald: head of the CIA’s Cuba operations who led plans to topple Fidel Castro and personally met with supposed Castro traitor Rolando Cubela

William Gaudet: editor who worked for the CIA and whose name appeared next to Oswald’s on Mexico City visa list.

William Harvey: senior CIA official who coordinated CIA-Mafia plots to kill Castro

Richard Helms: CIA Deputy Director for Plans who headed covert operations in November 1963 and later became CIA Director

Howard Hunt: senior CIA officer who was involved with anti-Castro operations

Joannides: CIA officer who controlled the DRE, the anti-Castro group that—for propaganda reasons—exploited Oswald’s pro-Castro activity. House Assassinations Committee Chief Counsel Robert Blakey condemned Joannides’ later role as CIA liaison to the Committee as having been “criminal.”

Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Jones : Operations Officer, U.S. Army 112th Military Intelligence Group. Said that the Army had a file on Oswald.

Robert Maheu: former Chicago FBI agent and liaison between the CIA and the Mafia

John McCone: CIA Director at time of the assassination

J. Walton Moore: CIA Domestic Contact Division officer in Dallas

Otto Otepka: chief security officer at the State Department whose study of defectors included Oswald

David Phillips: senior CIA officer running anti-Castro operations with an emphasis on propaganda—later headed Western Hemisphere Division. Phillips was in Mexico City at the time of Oswald’s visit in the autumn of 1963. It has been suggested that he used the cover name “Bishop.”
See entry above.

Winston Scott: CIA station chief in Mexico City in 1963. On his death, a draft manuscript with information on Oswald’s visit to Mexico—and tape recordings labeled “Oswald”—were removed from his home by the CIA and taken to Washington, DC.


Warren De Brueys: New Orleans special agent alleged to have been seen with Oswald

Charles Flynn: Dallas agent who met Jack Ruby as a “potential criminal informant” in 1959

J. Edgar Hoover: FBI Director

James Hosty: Dallas agent who handled the Oswald case before assassination

Quigley: New Orleans agent who responded when Oswald asked to see an agent in New Orleans in summer 1963

Gordon Shanklin: Special Agent in Charge in Dallas at the time of the assassination. Agent Hosty said he ordered the destruction of a note from Oswald.

James Wood: agent who questioned George de Mohrenschildt in Haiti after the assassination

Individuals involved with Oswald and Cuba

Gilberto Alvarado: Nicaraguan intelligence agent whose allegation linked Oswald to Cuban diplomats in Mexico City

“Angel” or “Angelo”: Hispanic said to have visited Silvia Odio in the company of a man introduced as “Leon Oswald”

Manuel Artime: key figure at CIA’s Bay of Pigs invasion who claimed President Kennedy approved Castro assassination plan

William Attwood: Special Adviser to U.S. delegation at the United Nations, who led secret contacts with Havana before the assassination

Eusebio Azcue: outgoing Cuban Consul in Mexico City, who met a visitor who used the name Oswald and said he came to believe he was an impostor

Carlos Bringuier: New Orleans representative of the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (DRE), involved in suspect street fracas with Oswald

Fidel Castro: Cuban Prime Minister in 1963—he later became President

Rolando Cubela (CIA cryptonym AMLASH): Castro aide who, the CIA came to believe, had turned traitor and intended to kill the Cuban leader. He may in fact have remained loyal to Castro.

Jean Daniel:
French journalist for
whom Kennedy used to sound out Castro—was with the Cuban leader on November 22

Manuel Antonio de Varona: vice president, then leader, of exiles’ Cuban Revolutionary Council

Hermínio Díaz García: Cuban anti-Castro fighter and associate of Mafia boss Santo Trafficante. He reportedly told his comrade Tony Cuesta, leader of the group Commandos L, that he personally took part in the President’s assassination. Died in a raid on Cuba in 1966.

Sylvia Durán: secretary to Cuban Consul in Mexico City who processed Oswald’s visa request

Loran Hall: worked with anti-Castro groups and the CIA and was linked to Santo Trafficante. His claim to have visited Silvia Odio sidelined a key indication of conspiracy.

Daniel Harker: Associated Press reporter in Havana who cited a remark by Castro that appeared be a threat to U.S. leaders

Lisa Howard: ABC-TV reporter who met Castro and later acted as go-between in contacts with Havana before November 22

Carlos Lechuga: Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations, involved with the United States in backchannel peace feelers before the assassination

“Leopoldo”: Hispanic who led the three men who visited Silvia Odio, introducing one of the group as “Leon Oswald”

Reinaldo Martinez: Cuban exile, said he learned in 1966 that his close friend Herminio Díaz had admitted having taken part in the President’s assassination

Mirabal: the incoming Cuban Consul in Mexico City, also intelligence officer, briefly saw individual who said he was Oswald

Silvia and Annie Odio: daughters of wealthy Cuban activist Amador Odio, who told of a visit before the assassination of two Hispanics accompanied by a man introduced as “Leon Oswald”—who had supposedly spoken of killing either Castro or Kennedy

Orest Pena: anti-Castro exile in New Orleans who claimed he saw Lee Harvey Oswald with FBI Agent De Brueys

Carlos Quiroga: anti-Castro exile and associate of Carlos Bringuier who visited Oswald in New Orleans

Dr. Rene Vallejo: Castro aide who acted as liaison in U.S.– Cuba contacts before the assassination

Antonio Veciana: leader of the anti-Castro group Alpha 66. Claimed that his U.S. intelligence contact, “Maurice Bishop,” met with Oswald before the assassination, and later tried to fabricate information linking Oswald to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico.

Individuals related to Jack Ruby or to organized crime aspects of the case

José Alemán: son of former Cuban government minister who quoted Mafia boss Santo Trafficante as saying President Kennedy was “going to be hit”

Robert “Barney” Baker: Hoffa thug who had two phone conversations with Jack Ruby shortly before the assassination

Edward Becker: casino employee, later investigator, who claimed that Carlos Marcello discussed having the President killed and setting up a “nut” to take the blame

Emile Bruneau: associate of Marcello aide who helped Oswald get bail after a street dispute in New Orleans

Judith Campbell (later Exner): woman who had a sexual relationship with President Kennedy and later with Mafia boss Sam Giancana

Campisi: owner of a Dallas restaurant who visited Jack Ruby in jail

Joseph Civello: man who reportedly represented Mafia boss Carlos Marcello in Dallas

William Hawk Daniels: federal investigator, later judge, who listened in on a phone conversation between Jimmy Hoffa and an aide in which there was discussion of killing Robert Kennedy

Sergeant Patrick Dean: officer in charge of the police basement security operation at the time Jack Ruby killed Oswald

Sam Giancana: Chicago Mafia boss and coordinator of CIA-Mafia plans to kill Fidel Castro

Jimmy Hoffa: Teamsters Union boss who was close to Santo Trafficante and reportedly wanted both President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy dead

Tom Howard: Jack Ruby’s first lawyer

Liverde: last name of Marcello aide named as having been at meeting at which assassination of the President was discussed

Carlos Marcello (born Calogero Minacore): Mafia boss in New Orleans and the southeastern United States, said to have discussed a plan to assassinate the President using a “nut” to take the blame and to have admitted the crime in old age

John Martino: linked to organized crime, U.S. intelligence, and the anti-Castro movement—his widow said he knew the assassination was about to occur. Reportedly said Oswald was “put together” by the “anti-Castro people.”

Lewis McWillie: friend of Jack Ruby and manager of Tropicana nightclub in Havana, in which Santo Trafficante had a major interest

Murray “
Dusty” Miller: aide to Jimmy Hoffa whom Ruby called two weeks before the assassination

Edward Partin: Teamsters official in Louisiana who said Jimmy Hoffa wanted both President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy dead

Nofio Pecora: associate of Carlos Marcello who knew Oswald’s uncle Charles Murret. Jack Ruby called his office number less than a month before the assassination.

Carl Roppolo: oil geologist who, according to Edward Becker, was present when Carlos Marcello discussed a plan to murder President Kennedy

John Roselli: top mobster and go-between in the CIA-Mafia plots to assassinate Fidel Castro

Sam Termine: Marcello henchman who knew Oswald’s mother

Jack Todd: associate of Santo Trafficante whose phone number was found in Jack Ruby’s car after the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald

Other books

She Blinded Me With Science by Michelle L. Levigne
There is always love by Loring, Emilie Baker
Cedar Creek Seasons by Eileen Key
The Voyage by Murray Bail
The Thieves of Heaven by Richard Doetsch
Heroes Never Die by Sanders, Lois
The Coffee Trader by David Liss
Anila's Journey by Mary Finn
The Reckoning by Branton, Teyla Copyright 2016 - 2021