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Me & Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose…

Me & Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald (udgave 2010)

af Judyth Vary Baker, Jim Marrs (Efterskrift), Edward T. Haslam (Forord)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
572363,115 (3.17)5
In this memoir, Judyth Vary Baker, offers extensive documentation of how she came to be involved in cancer research, and her first-hand experience and love affair with Lee Harvey Oswald. She shows him as an undercover intelligence agent who was framed for the assassination he was trying to prevent, and how he was silenced by his old friend, Jack Ruby.… (mere)
Titel:Me & Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald
Forfattere:Judyth Vary Baker
Andre forfattere:Jim Marrs (Efterskrift), Edward T. Haslam (Forord)
Info:Trine Day (2010), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 624 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

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Me & Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald af Judyth Vary Baker


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Judyth Vary Baker and The Lie Heard Round the World
A couple of years ago I was doing research for my current book, “View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale”. It is a work of fiction but I wanted to use some facts to move the story forward. As part of my research I came across a book called “Me and Lee: How I Came to Know, Love, and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald” by Judyth Vary Baker. In spite of the garish cover I opted to give it a read because you never know what you will find when you do research.
By the time I finished that first reading I felt so much sympathy for this woman, no longer a young girl in love but an old woman who had lost the love of her life and had nothing but her memories. I researched her and found varying opinions on the veracity of her tale. This did not surprise me since many researchers and writers have experienced this. After all the assassination of President John F Kennedy is perhaps the biggest unsolved murder in the history of the United States if not the world. I continued reading books both pro and con regarding Lee Oswald’s guilt or innocence in the assassination. I developed my own opinions. I do not believe he was the shooter nor do I believe he knew the assassination was going to take place that day. I suspect he was led to believe something else was going to believe something else was going to happen that might trigger a strike at Cuba thus giving the US military the ability to claim retaliation.
However that is not the point of this review. Back to the book in question “Me and Lee”. I chose to re-read a couple of the books and one of them was Ms Baker’s. As I read these books I would refer to other books covering the same time periods and the memories of other individuals. I also re-read comments and research done by theorists. The more I read the more I became convinced Ms Baker’s book is based on nothing more than the fact she worked at the Reilly Coffee Company in New Orleans during the same brief period Oswald was employed there. The evidence she provides is no more than her words repeated by others. I originally “friended” her on Facebook offering her assistance in finding places to speak on her next tour of the US (this past fall). We developed something of a friendship in private messages which I have kept. This past week I did admit I don’t believe her story and was instantly set upon by her rabid followers. Ms Baker then proceeded to deny we had ever been friends on Facebook, and stated she did not think I had even read her book. This in spite of the fact she provided me a free pre order copy of her book about David Ferrie! I have now been identified as what she and her minions like to call “trolls”, a term reserved for those who express disbelief or disagreement with her story.
Her ability to weave a creative story lacks believability making it even a poor fiction. The book seems more of a self touting tool regarding her high school days as a young science student interested in cancer research. It would have been nice if she stuck to that route. She might have made a positive impact in healthcare. But like many young students she may only have had a flash in the pan idea and went on to marry and have children. I don’t doubt her intelligence. It takes a smart woman to come up with the far-fetched idea she has sold thousands on. But smarter people than she have seen the holes in her story and called her out on them. My own research found she has changed her story more than once usually blaming the changes on others. She claims to live abroad because she is in fear for her life. It amazes me that a group of people who managed to plan and execute the assassination over fifty years ago could not in the ensuing years have managed to remove an unknown and significantly less important person.
If you like a poorly written but amusing fiction about the man accused of assassinating our 35th president you can find better. If you have some empty time on your hands you might be able to get a free copy somewhere. Don’t waste your money on this book. There are far better and more accurate accounts of the events surrounding the assassination and Oswald’s possible involvement.
( )
1 stem NewLiz | May 26, 2015 |
Six-word review: Lover and beloved, loser and lost.

Very extended review:

It's not very often that my main feeling upon completing a book is relief--not that the story turned out all right, but that it's over. Usually if I'm finding it a real push to finish a book, I don't. But at some point in this 600-page tome, grim determination set in, so I toughed it out to the end. It was a real test of endurance. I longed to get it over with, but I couldn't slog through more than 25 or 30 pages at a sitting. It seemed to take a very long time.

And you know what? It wasn't worth it.

Willingly suspending disbelief is one thing; having credulity pummeled to death is another.

It's a stretch to call this opus nonfiction. If it weren't for the data points that jibe with fact, however, I don't think it would have held anyone's attention; marketed strictly as fiction, it would have been a ponderous bore. It's only the tantalizing possibilities that give this tale any traction at all.

I knew the basic scenario--who doesn't? I was in high school in 1963 and clearly remember JFK's assassination and its aftermath. President Kennedy was killed in November of that year, and the alleged assassin was one Lee Harvey Oswald, of New Orleans, Moscow, and elsewhere. This narrative purports to be a private history of the summer of 1963, in which (it is claimed) the accused perpetrator conducted a passionate, adulterous affair with the author of this book, then a 19-year-old newlywed from Florida who had supposedly been inducted into a deep circle of secrets on account of her vastly superior talent and knowledge of lab work with cancerous cells. Oswald, she claims, was innocent, a patsy, a CIA operative cut loose and set up by the real CIA baddies and their Mafia pals. And, says she, he was also the love of her life, who had planned to leave his family and run away with her to Mexico just as soon as his loyally heroic attempt to stop the assassination in Dallas was over.

Which obviously failed and ended with his ignominious death two days later on live national television, gunned down by a man she says was his old friend.

A single example of the preposterous character of this yarn might not suffice, but it does tell plenty: Judyth says (page 113) that she met Lee as they were standing together in line at a post office in New Orleans and she dropped a casual remark in Russian to a random attractive stranger, who just happened to be a recently returned former U.S. Marine who had defected to the USSR and then undefected. He knew Russian well and responded with a warning that speaking Russian in New Orleans was not a good idea. Later she tries to suggest that the meeting had been staged by powers that wanted her to meet Lee. Sound plausible? Ok, sure, then so does the rest.

Here's a case where a length of 600 pages (plus index) not only seems like but is far more. This oversize trade paperback, 6" x 9" and 1 1/4" thick, has the worst book design I think I've ever seen: scant 1/2" margins routinely broken by sidebars, insets, photographs, newspaper clippings, and other documentation, featuring badly reproduced photographs (on coarse, cheap stock, which does not hold images well), many with bleeds on two, three, and even four sides. Chapters are followed by long, dense chapter notes, as many as six pages of them, in the same killer 8-point sans serif as the sidebars. If all the ancillary materials had been laid out normally instead of being jammed into a layout that resembles the ruthless technique of an old-fashioned high school yearbook team, they could easily have added a hundred pages.

I'm not going to go into a point-by-point rebuttal or citation of errors and inconsistencies. Plenty of others with real axes to grind have done that and posted their findings on various websites. I don't know the truth about JFK's death, and maybe no one now living does. But I'm a competent enough reader to see that the mind-numbing detail and profuse documentation of Baker's story are irrelevant: they don't support the contention. Even if a person can produce pay stubs and bus tickets from half a century ago, they supply no proof of involvement with some other person, aside from her then-husband Robert, with whom she evidently shared a joint bank account.

Instead, what they show is a woman obsessed with keeping records of personal history at an astonishing level of detail, and also a person utterly enamored of the surpassing wonderfulness of herself. This woman's self-adoring preciousness is so extravagant that it doesn't even seem like ego but rather like an all-consuming appetite, an addiction. I honestly think this one could give lessons to Kim Jong Un.

Any attempt on my part to ascribe a motivation for assembling this suffocating chronicle would be irresponsible speculation; but it does invite these neutral observations:

• Assuming that all those reproduced newspaper clippings and other forms of recognition are genuine, Judyth Baker, née Vary, received an enormous amount of attention in her youth from the press, award-granting bodies, prominent researchers, and institutions. Whether it should have been enough to gratify anyone's hunger for celebrity, I can't say.
• Again assuming the accuracy of the reports (including some uncorroborated self-reports), young Judyth was lauded and showered with honors for her creativity, industriousness, persistence--her sheer genius, in fact--and credited with world-class breakthroughs in scientific research and experimentation.
• By her self-reports, she also enjoyed dazzling popularity among her school peers, with no end of admirers clamoring to be her favored beau and a stunning amount of virtuous self-control.
• If one were looking for an explanation for why her potentially brilliant career never materialized either academically or professionally, this story of clandestine operations, deadly secrets, and mortal danger would supply a justification.
• It can be thrilling to be or have been engaged in a secret love affair, especially one as sweetly intense as the author claims this one to be.
• An imagined memory can be as vivid as a real one.
• Judyth's alleged partner in her self-confessed romantic liaison has been dead for more than fifty years and cannot refute her assertions or respond to them in any way.
• A surprising number of other possible corroborators of her account either are dead or have disappeared, never to be heard from again. And some just don't remember things the way she does.
• Telling (and retelling) the tale has been good for a lot more attention.

Significantly, the book is not titled "Lee and I" or even "Lee and Me." First and foremost, it's about Judyth.

It's a curious thing about Baker's reminiscences. At several points in the book she claims to have an exceptional memory; here, for example, in chapter note 5 (page 462):

Getting lost all the time has kept me humble when I've been praised for my poetry, paintings, for my nearly eidetic memory of the past, or for my encyclopedic compendium of knowledge.

(Note the "humble" part, which seems laughable in itself.) Yet suddenly on page 500, 504, and 510 she's claiming fuzzy recollection because details have faded and memory can be peculiar. This is about the most important summer of her life, remember; in contrast to which, for long stretches of earlier time she reports the particulars of strings of consecutive days with practically minute-by-minute recitals of her doings, with never a mention of journal-keeping or any other aid to reconstruction.

A little poking around the Internet brought me to a wealth of related websites, some promoting her story and some debunking it. Among them I found this interesting revelation (here: http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/judyth.htm):

In the first place, the line between fantasy and reality can be much more slippery than most of us assume. Judyth, for example, has stated that: "Dr. [Joseph] Reihl was the first one to gently suggest how to retrieve so many of my repressed memories, memories I had planned to take to the grave."

The notion that a person has memories that are "repressed" and can be "recovered" is radically suspect in the eyes of modern social science. The "recovered" memories often turn out to be fantasies – which however come to be believed.

Along similar lines, she has asserted "the writing of this book, including the reconstruction of the telephone calls I received . . . is based on principles I learned at the feet of Luis Urrea, 1999 American Book Award winner. . . ." She goes on to say, "[i]n Urrea's 'Creative Non fiction' courses taught at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, I learned how to better recreate my memories into the most accurate reconstruction of the actual events. Urrea's creative nonfiction works successfully bring to life his own extraordinary experiences, and include reconstructed dialogues. I have used Urrea's methods in reconstructing the events between April and December of 1963 in that same manner."

So that is apparently what we have here: creative nonfiction. Emphasis on the creative, all right.

Acknowledging that approach within the book would have made it a whole lot more palatable; but instead, the massive quantities of data are presented as recitals of fact, as if they were testimony drawn from exhaustive note-taking and journaling.

I found the bounds of belief stretched too far well before reaching the 100-page mark, by which time we'd already been treated to impressive quantities of anecdotes recounting not only Judyth's exemplary personal life but also her matchless scientific prowess, evinced by numerous interventions on her deserving behalf by high-powered figures from state governors and U.S. senators to educators, researchers, and heads of prestigious medical institutions. Here's one of many passages that rang false to me:

I was at the peak of my physical attractiveness, and due to some good looks, my natural ability to get along with the opposite sex, and my unrestrained joy at having escaped months of tyrannical isolation, I welcomed the attentions of a rather large group of smart young male suitors. (page 88)

By her own account, this girl is a prodigy not only in art, poetry, athletics, drama, science, and languages but also in beauty, personality, and popularity. I've deleted all the facetious and sarcastic comments I inserted at this point in my commentary, and instead I'll just ask: do goddesses of this order really talk about themselves this way, or does it sound more like a fantasy to you?

To me the entire work sounds less like a revelation of deep secrets of international import and more like the highly embellished fantasy--or delusion--of a woman who longed for adventure, intrigue, and romance, and, perhaps more, who wanted to justify her failure to fulfill her early promise.

At the very least, if it's an elaborate fiction, an incredible amount of effort went into it, with enough entertainment value to be worth a few stars as a curiosity. True or false, it seems to be the labor of love--and self-love is, after all, love, is it not?--of a self-aggrandizing exhibitionist whose appetite for attention is literally insatiable.

But if you're going to write fiction, I say make it good. You have to play by fiction's rules. You can't just gush about how awesome you are and how much somebody adores you. That is not enough to make a fantastic story plausible, not even with fifty-year-old bus tickets and pay stubs and everything.

Here's a little story. As an adult I was briefly in touch with a former classmate on whom I'd once had a huge secret crush. Turned out, to our mutual surprise and bemused regret, that back then he'd had a secret crush on me too. But we'd never got together. However, just to indulge in a little taste of what might have been, we jointly rewrote a memory of a time when we might have connected (innocently, of course, as youngsters), but didn't, as if we really had. We anchored it with just enough factuality to make it plausible. And guess what: that constructed false incident now inhabits my memory alongside the real and less pleasing one, just as if it had actually happened. I don't confuse the two, and I know the made-up experience is made up, but it has the same vivid quality in memory as the actual and inconsequential nonevent, much as a dream can leave a lasting impression. If I had been passionately committed to believing and propounding that fiction as true personal history, complete with repurposed mementoes, and perhaps a bolstered self-image thrown in, how real might it not seem to me? and how convincingly mightn't I be able to talk and write about it?

In the end, I thought the book was a washout. It doesn't stand up to scrutiny or even gentle questions. Cherishing an old piece of green glassware does not prove that it was given to you by anyone, never mind a president's putative assassin.

I know, it's my own fault for reading a book like this in the first place. I've never read any conspiracy literature before, and I'm thinking I probably won't again. I guess I learned something, but it wasn't something about the Kennedy assassination or the alleged culprit. It was more about the power of human self-delusion and the apparently inexhaustible capacity for self-promotion. Ultimately it just seems pathetic. ( )
1 stem Meredy | May 4, 2015 |
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In this memoir, Judyth Vary Baker, offers extensive documentation of how she came to be involved in cancer research, and her first-hand experience and love affair with Lee Harvey Oswald. She shows him as an undercover intelligence agent who was framed for the assassination he was trying to prevent, and how he was silenced by his old friend, Jack Ruby.

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