"A Rose by Many Names" Reviewed
by Duncan Boutwell
Aug 27, 2013 | 2054 views | 0 0 comments | 375 375 recommendations | email to a friend | print
We are approaching the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, who was shot November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m. as his motorcade was passing through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas.

Those of us old enough can usually remember what we were doing when we heard the news. Such is the power of total surprise, as it was for nearly all of us. This column is about someone who wasn’t surprised.

I was teaching and heard the news from a colleague, a grim old woman I avoided, who beckoned as I was leaving the building. She was crying, and her words came out shaky. If I close my eyes today, I can still see the tears running down her cheeks.

Basic facts came from broadcast news, but it would be almost a year before the official report came out, a commission established by then President Lyndon Johnson on November 29, 1963, and naming Chief Justice Earl Warren to head it. The 888 page report was released September 24, 1964.

The report, actually written by J. Edgar Hoover and approved by the Commission after a brief review, was badly flawed, and is probably responsible for many of the conspiracy theories that appeared almost overnight, like weeds in a badly tended garden.

A 1978 United States House Committee on Assassinations helped, but a 2003 ABC News Poll revealed that 70% of Americans believed Kennedy’s death was the result of a larger plot.

Todd C. Elliott, an enterprising investigative journalist living in Lake Charles, found a solid subject in a woman named Rose Cherami, who appeared at the beginning of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK in Eunice, Louisiana. Elliott has an abiding interest in the Kennedy assassination; he states he watched JFK perhaps 30 times.

Cherami is an anomaly. Her background is checkered; a heavy drug user, a prostitute, strip-tease dancer, and a known drug courier. She arrived in Eunice from somewhere in Florida, drunk and stoned, in the company of two men who she claimed threw her out of their car and went on to Dallas, to kill Kennedy. The authorities put her in jail, where she provided details about the assassination she shouldn’t know. The shooting wasn’t until 48 hours later.

Elliott went to Eunice to find people to talk to. There were many dead ends, since time had passed and many of those who knew about Cherami were dead, or had moved away. Or weren’t talking, at least for publication. Cherami did not die a natural death, and her autopsy could not be found.

The resultant book, “A Rose by Many Other Names,” subtitled “Rose Cherami & the JFK Assassination,” left me glad I had read it, with two distinct impressions. I don’t know if that constitutes a recommendation.

Mostly, I found myself wanting to sit down with the author and ask what he left out, on purpose.

My second impression is similar to finding an IED planted along a main road. Some of “Rose” has a feeling that if I found out more, I could put myself into jeopardy. Improvised Explosive Devices don’t make good playthings.

But if you’d like a little danger in your life, “Rose” is a must read.
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