Kennedy’s Avenger: Assassination, Conspiracy, and the Forgotten Trial of Jack Ruby

Hanover Square. Jun. 2021. 400p. ISBN 9781335914033. $27.99. HIST
On November 24, 1963, two days after Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly assassinated President John F. Kennedy, Jack Ruby, an owner of seedy Dallas night clubs, shot and killed Oswald in front of 10 million stunned TV viewers. ABC News chief legal affairs correspondent Abrams and best-selling author Fisher team up for their fourth book about a forgotten trial (after John Adams Under Fire). The authors pursue the complexities of Ruby’s murder trial as tenaciously as did Melvin Belli, the superstar lawyer for Ruby’s defense, and Henry Wade, Dallas district attorney and prosecutor. Abrams and Fisher unravel this emotionally charged 14-day trial, in which the eight men and four women of an all-white jury found Ruby guilty. He was given a death sentence by Judge Joseph Brown Sr. An outraged Belli, who had tried to have Ruby found not guilty by reason of insanity, was fired from the case by Ruby’s family. On appeal, the conviction was overturned, but a new trial scheduled for 1967 was never held because Ruby had died from cancer.
VERDICT This account makes the trial accessible and presents Ruby sympathetically, as a man victimized by lawyerly theatrics, a media hungry for a conviction, and a nation grieving over the loss of Kennedy. The book will fascinate nonfiction courtroom drama readers and JFK assassination buffs still looking for a conspiracy link between Oswald and Ruby.
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