For those with a reasonably open mind or curiosity about history, the book is a trove of insider commentary on an ostensibly glamorous era in Georgetown and at the "Camelot" White House, whose public image was shaped by myth-makers.
With a dramatic story-line, Janney assembles scattered evidence to show, for example, that Kennedy planned to dump Vice President Lyndon Johnson from the 1964 re-election ticket, and divorce Jacqueline Kennedy following his political career in order to wed Mary.
Further, Janney assembles evidence that Mary -- part of an influential circle of Georgetown/McLean friends (which included the CIA's Angleton and his wife) -- was preparing to challenge the Warren Commission's 1964 conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy by himself.
The Warren Commission, which used Angleton as a major research resource via Commssioner Allen Dulles, announced its findings in Setpember 1964 to wide acclaim. Mary Meyer was killed several weeks later.
The murder was on the same day when Angleton said he stopped by her home in the evening with his wife so they could attend a poetry reading together. Angleton and Ben Bradlee later rummaged through the victim's home to find her diary, with Bradlee later saying Angleton should keep what they found because it was a family matter. This is also literally an old boy network of news management.
Janney argues that Angleton masterminded the murder plot against Mary as a small-scale replica of Kennedy's death in Dallas, using both a patsy and a trained killer.
While such evidence is necessarily incomplete and of course controversial, Janney presents it in a reasonable manner.
He asserts that Attorney General Robert Kennedy, below, a resident of McLean, Virginia near CIA headquarters, privately disputed the Warren Commission Report, as did several other close Kennedy confidantes. But they regarded President Johnson, his Texas financial backers, and the government apparatus they controlled as too powerful to make any public challenge to the Warren findings, except to reclaim the presidency ASAP, in 1968. We know what happened then.
Janney's book has largely been ignored, as might be expected even though his publisher took the extra step of blanketing relevant Capitol Hill committees with review copies. The Boston Globe, one of relatively few mainstream newspaper treatments so far, published a balanced feature May 26, entitled, Peter Janney on JFK confidante Mary Pinchot Meyer's death.
Nina Burleigh, a previous biographer of Mary Meyer, and Tim Weiner, a specialist author on CIA-related topics, are among those quoted as challenging Janney's thesis. In a column for Daily Beast/Newsweek, Burleigh argued that Crump committed the murder. Weiner dismisses CIA complicity as an unproven theory.
The Globe reported:
Most key figures in Janney's book are long gone. James Angleton died in 1987, Cord Meyer in 2001, Tony Pinchot Bradlee just last year. In 2007, Janney interviewed Ben Bradlee but says his memory of long-ago events was not that sharp. Now 90, Bradlee, through a family member, had no comment on Janney's book. Janney has also sent copies of the book to congressional leaders and Justice Department officials, asking that Meyer's murder be reinvestigated. He's had no response.
More background information, including media coverage and an introduction by the prominent JFK assassination author Dick Russell, is on the book's site.
Suggested Reader Perspective
Helpful now, I believe, is to suggest a reader framework for understanding such controversial matters. Simply excerpting parts of Janney's arguments or that of his critics is inevitably a highly subjective process given the amount of relevant materials and the layers of intrigue that have always permeated this mystery in particular.