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By John Ketwig (reviewer)
Mary's Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace
by Peter Janney
(Skyhorse Publishing, 2016)
When he was just a little boy, Peter Janney's best playmate was a kid named Michael Meyer, whose mother had gone to Vassar with Peter's mom. The families were close. Unfortunately, one afternoon Michael and his brother tried to run across a busy Washington, DC intersection. The brother made it, but Michael was hit by a car and killed. Michael's mom was a very attractive and accomplished woman, an artist, and a very devoted peace activist. Her uncle had been appointed head of the US Forest Service by his friend President Teddy Roosevelt, and her sister was married to the executive editor of the Washington Post, Ben Bradlee. Mary had been married to another anti-war activist named Cord Meyer, but somewhere along the line his core beliefs had changed and he had become a CIA agent. After a while, their divergent views led Mary to divorce Cord.
Mary Pinchot Meyer had been an acquaintance of John Kennedy since college. They were neighbors in Georgetown, Mary was rumored to be a friend of the First Lady, and they all met often at parties and dinners involving Washington's most prestigious and colorful personalities. Mary was a Washington socialite. Over time, she became JFK's mistress and confidant, and probably the love of his life. The President was a world-class womanizer, but his relationship with Mary Meyer was far more than just sexual. White House staff members and colleagues felt that she was influencing him to abandon his cold-war ideas and look for paths to world peace and rapprochement with both the Soviet Union and Cuba. Of course, many of the top people in the CIA and military were appalled at such thinking. After her death, it was discovered that Mary was in close touch with Timothy Leary, and there are indications she turned the president on to marijuana, and possibly even LSD.
Certainly, Kennedy's attitude toward war in general, and nuclear war in particular, was changing drastically. When JFK issued NSAM-263, a confidential order to pull 1,000 Americans out of Vietnam by the end of 1963, and most of those remaining by the end of 1965, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and military leaders in Vietnam ignored the order, then delayed its implementation. (The US did not officially have combat troops in-country at that time, although some special forces "advisors" were patrolling with the South Vietnamese army). Kennedy's commencement address at American University in June of 1963 was a landmark event, as he stated that America's position in future world affairs would be to seek possibilities for peace, and urging all the other nations around the planet to do the same, and to believe peace was actually possible. On July 25, the first Limited Test Ban Treaty with the Soviets was announced, and the warmongers were apoplectic.
On November 21, 1963, JFK told Assistant Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff, "Vietnam is not worth another American life," and "after I come back from Texas, that's going to change," referring to the military's pressure to increase our country's involvement in Vietnam. The next day, at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Kilduff was the person who officially announced that the president was dead.
Mary Meyer was outraged. She knew all the top people in the CIA and many in the government and the military, and she recognized the signs that the president had been "eliminated" to keep his policies from happening. She was not at all reluctant to express that opinion. She named names and wondered aloud who had been involved. When the Warren Commission's report was released, she realized it was a blatant cover-up and turned up the volume. Mary Meyer was too well-known and respected in Washington, and her behavior was not at all appreciated in the halls of power. On October 12, 1964, she went for her usual long walk along the C & O canal towpath near Georgetown. She was shot twice and died immediately. A poor and timid black man was arrested and tried for the murder, but no one was ever convicted of the crime.
Because Mary Meyer had been a close family friend, Peter Janney became interested in the case. His father had been a high-ranking CIA official, and a close friend of Mary's ex-husband, Cord Meyer, and other top-level CIA spooks and assassins. "Mary's Mosaic" is the story of Janney's investigation, and the many pieces that began to come together like colorful bits of stone in a mosaic. Ultimately, the author discovered that his own father had played a role in both the assassination of the president, and probably the murder of Mary Meyer!
I buy a lot of books. Far too often, I read fifty or a hundred pages and set them aside for another day that never comes. I enjoy some books, learn from others, and sometimes I will appreciate a book just because it is well-written, a fine example of the art of written communication. Once in a great while I find a book that hits all three targets dead center, and "Mary's Mosaic" is one of those books. This is a page-turner, an edge-of-your-seat expose that will keep you up late at night with its amazing revelations. Certainly, the assassination of John F. Kennedy was the crime of the 20th century, and as more information is uncovered it is damned likely that we would never have seen Vietnam if JFK had not been eliminated. The debate continues. "Mary's Mosaic" is thoroughly researched and documented, with 86 pages of appendices, end notes, and bibliography to convince the skeptics. What's special about this book is its personal focus, and the author's obvious amazement, as he discovers the secrets of people he has known since childhood. You've got to wonder how many children growing up in the suburbs of Washington, DC today will someday discover that their parents or family friends were involved in all manner of skullduggery. You can bet that very few of them will tell their stories as well as Peter Janney has done. Highly recommended.
John Ketwig is a lifetime member of VVAW, and the author of ."..and a hard rain fell: A G.I.'s True Story of the War in Vietnam."