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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Ramparts' Satire of Assassination Books

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

Here is a expanded excerpt from my book, I was a Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak (pages 69 -71). I thought this story illustrated how easy it is to fool people with over-the-top factoids. It was all good fun but yet today, many conspiracy theorists trade in just as ridiculous factoids that aren't meant to be satirical.

While the early critics of the Warren Report were deadly serious, two writers decided to add a bit of fun to the proceedings. Jacob Brackman and Faye Levine wrote a book review of a couple of non-existent books: Time of Assassins by Ulov G. K. Leboeuf and Oswald: Patsy without Portfolio by Leopold Zaftig, in the November 1966, issue of Ramparts. Editor Warren Hinckle published the review without any indication of the fictitious nature of these 'books.'

They noted that “During three years of painstaking research, Leboeuf read the Warren Commission’s 26 volumes 13 times through, studied the published works of Epstein, Weisberg, Lane, Salandria, Cook, Ford, Buchanan, Yossarian, and Holmes—as well as their first drafts—and spent six months with FBI officers as they gather their information on biweekly forays to Jack Ruby’s strip emporium. Furthermore, Leboeuf made an impressive collection of hitherto unexplored documents, including the Dallas-Irving 1960 tax assessor’s records and 1960-1963 telephone directories, the ledgers for the month of November 1963 and several Irving retail stores, including Hutchinson’s grocery (scene of the much-discussed cinnamon roll purchases), the Sports Drome Range, the Ford-Lincoln agency, and the notorious Tsien-Huang’s hand laundry.”

Leboeuf found evidence of five different Oswalds, “the four going by the name L.H. Oswell, H.L. Oswill, Lee R.V. Isabell, and Oswald Harby” and the evidence indicates that “Lee Harvey Oswald was the only one of the five who was not a crack shot; that it was L.H. Oswell, and not Oswald, who took the often-discussed trip to Mexico in September, he having the greatest resemblance to Lee Harvey among the four and being already known to a certain few Mexican girls…”

However, “it is only in Volumes III and IV that Leboeuf really pulls out the stops. It is only here, among the murky Exhibits of the gigantic Volume III (Exhibit 226, III:682: a James Beard cookbook from the pantry of Peggy Goldwater with a recipe for cinnamon rolls circled in red; Exhibit 252, III:654: a comic book retrieved from a Mexican house of ill-repute with the name “Oswell” scrawled on it), that the scrupulously academic reader might have occasional doubts over the unorthodox, even manic, spirit with which Leboeuf has conducted his investigations.”

And, as for the actual conspiracy, well, Leboeuf “presents convincing new evidence linking a number of prominent millionaire conservatives, as well as a few beer, oil and birth control trusts, with the plot. The case for an inside job is persuasive, if not incontrovertible.”

Sylvia Meagher did not take kindly to this review, and she wrote Ramparts a letter:

Warren Hinckle, the editor of Ramparts, wrote about this spoof in his book, If You Have a Lemon, Make Lemonade: (starting at page 227)

And here is that review from the Boston Globe, which remarked that Olav was a "critic of undetermined reliability":

The Hartford Courant of November 6, 1966, also mentioned the Leboeuf book:

Herb Caen mentioned the controversy in his column for the San Francisco Chronicle of November 23, 1966:

And, finally, Ramparts got sued for its satire: (pages 229 - 230 in If you Have a Lemon, Make Lemonade)

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