I finished Dead Wrong by David Wayne and Richard Belzer at a fitting time--a few days prior to the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I've never been into conspiracy theories, but the words 'controversial cover-ups' on the cover piqued my interest--who was covering what up and why? There had to be something spicy in this book. That's when I also realized I didn't know a damn thing about the deaths of historical figures like JFK and Martin Luther King, and decided to give the book a whirl.
What I didn't expect was my forthcoming obsession with these infamous deaths after the very first chapter. Dead Wrong is an eye opening book. It discusses with painstaking detail the overarching events that lead to the deaths of Martin Luther King, Marilyn Monroe, JFK, and multiple others, as well as the evidence that points to many other suicide-disguised homicides that never got much press.
I know what you're thinking. 'Crazy' conspiracy theorists with their 'wild' theories. But it's exactly this idea of seeing conspiracy theorists as 'crazed', that is confronted throughout the book. Conspirators are no more, the author writes, than two people conspiring to commit a crime. The idea that conspiracy theorists are 'crazy' is exactly what the people behind the cover-ups in this book want you to believe.
The book starts out with details of the death of CIA agent Frank Olsen in the 1950's, who 'fell to his death from a 13-story window', when the actual evidence concluded that he was drugged, clubbed, and pushed out of a hotel window. Olsen had access to 'state secrets', and as head of the Special Operations Division, was too disturbed by some of the tortuous interrogations performed by the CIA in Germany, as well as in other operations, to continue on the force. The threat of his resignation held the possibility of leaked top-secret information, and soon the tables were turned on Olsen--he was drugged, beaten, and thrown from a hotel window, his death made to look like a suicide in an effort to keep top-secret information from being exposed.
This isn't the only suicide-disguised murder the authors touch on. They go into extensive detail about the deaths of Marilyn Monroe, United Nations Weapons Inspector Dr. David C. Kelly, and trusted attorney to President Clinton, Vince Foster, carefully dissecting the circumstances around their deaths, and how the causes of death absolutely do not jive with the evidence found at the crime scenes.
At the outset of each murder case, Wayne and Belzer list what the publicly told circumstances of the murders were, followed by the actual circumstances, given all of the evidence. Having interviewed dozens of people with inside knowledge of these cases, and having seen countless instances where information was withheld from the public, the authors do a fabulous job at reeling you into the circumstances of each of these widely studied cases where information was falsified, witnesses were threatened, and the truth very carefully covered up.
Particularly jarring were the sections on famous suicides with evidence pointing to homicides. The death of White House Counsel Vincent Foster was labeled as a suicide when he was found dead in a park with no gun in his hand, and no sign of his car anywhere nearby. Later, his body is photographed with a gun in his hand that was not his, and his car found near the scene after he died with the driver's seat adjusted to someone smaller than Foster. Marilyn Monroe's death was classified as a suicidal overdose, when there were no pill capsules found in her body, or injection points. She was found with severe bruising on her body, an unexplainable broken window, and enough Chloral Hydrate (knock out drops) and Nembutal in her system to kill an elephant.
I believe in the circumstances listed by Belzer in Wayne because of the very nature of the cover ups. Too much attention was paid to make these murders appear as suicides. If it weren't for the cover ups discussed in this book, and the incriminating evidence that supported alternate theories, it would be hard to believe that someone other than James Earl Ray shot Martin Luther King Jr., or that multiple people were responsible for the death of John F. Kennedy. But the evidence and witness testimony in this book are unmistakable. It's all too intriguing to blindly believe the textbook classifications of these highly scrutinized deaths.
There were of course some points throughout the book where the evidence was too overwhelming to stay interested, which is something I didn't expect. For the Marilyn Monroe case in particular, I felt like some of the evidence was repeated and driven home so often I found myself whispering to myself, we know already. On the other hand, I can see how it was the authors' job to make sure that the audience was aware of every instance in which a cover up was potentially at play, regardless of how many times they had to drill it home, and believe me when I say their research is very thorough. Some of the information they uncover might have you questioning more about what the media tells you than you might like.