Mrs. Paine's Garage and the Murder of John F. Kennedy

Mrs. Paine's Garage and the Murder of John F. Kennedy

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by Thomas Mallon
     
 

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Nearly forty years have passed since Ruth Hyde Paine, a Quaker housewife in suburban Dallas, offered shelter and assistance to a young man named Lee Harvey Oswald and his Russian wife, Marina. For nine months in 1963, Mrs. Paine was so deeply involved in the Oswalds’ lives that she eventually became one of the Warren Com-
mission’s most important

Overview

Nearly forty years have passed since Ruth Hyde Paine, a Quaker housewife in suburban Dallas, offered shelter and assistance to a young man named Lee Harvey Oswald and his Russian wife, Marina. For nine months in 1963, Mrs. Paine was so deeply involved in the Oswalds’ lives that she eventually became one of the Warren Com-
mission’s most important witnesses.

Mrs. Paine’s Garage is the tragic story of a well-intentioned woman who found Oswald the job that put him six floors above Dealey Plaza—into which, on November 22, he fired a rifle he’d kept hidden inside Mrs. Paine’s house. But this is also a tale of survival and resiliency: the story of a devout, open-hearted woman who weathered a whirlwind of investigation, suspicion, and betrayal, and who refused to allow her enmeshment in the calamity of that November to crush her own life.

Thomas Mallon gives us a disturbing account of generosity and secrets, of suppressed memories and tragic might-have-beens, of coincidences more eerie than conspiracy theory. His book is unlike any other work that has been published on the murder of President Kennedy.

Editorial Reviews

Sara Mosle
In Mrs. Paine's Garage, Mallon ends up giving us his truth about President Kennedy's assassination.
New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his fiction, Mallon (Henry and Clara, etc.) has looked at history's accidental tourists, ordinary citizens thrust by happenstance into the swirl of cataclysmic events. This time around, he turns a journalistic eye toward a central surviving figure in the Kennedy assassination. In 1963, Ruth Paine, now in her late 60s, was a recently separated housewife hoping to improve her Russian. As a result, she offered to shelter a Russian woman, Marina Oswald, her children while her husband, Lee Harvey, sought work. In the end, Paine, a committed Quaker, unwittingly provided Oswald a sniper's nest she helped him find employment at the Texas School Book Depository and storage space, her garage, for arguably the 20th-century's most infamous murder weapon. The views on her association with the Oswalds have run the gamut, from nave do-gooder to CIA conspirator. Here we meet up with some old faces, seen now through Paine's eyes, such as Jim Garrison, the overzealous New Orleans district attorney determined to uncover a conspiracy. Mallon follows the strange trajectory of Paine's well-intentioned life, from her first meeting with the Oswalds to her voluminous testimony before the Warren Commission to her pursuit of an estranged Marina following the events. Mallon also generates a variety of delicious "what-if" scenarios and "small-world" coincidences. There are a few brambles to hack through at the outset, awkward chronological zigzags and family histories that are tedious in spots. But these patches are soon smoothed out. While not a heavy-hitting historical tome, this may introduce some fresh air on the vast storehouse of Kennedy works. Ruth Paine's is ultimately a human story, the tale of one woman living in America. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Chicago Tribune
"A trenchant and offbeat examination of how history happens."
Los Angeles Times
"Mallon succeeds admirably, not only portraying Paine in depth and with sympathy, but managing to make her goodness genuinely interesting."
Wall Street Journal
"A fascinating, carefully researched account of what [Mallon] calls ''the collision of innocent intentions and unforeseen enormities.''"
National Review
"One of the best nonfiction works of recent years... a delight."
San Francisco Chronicle
"Fresh and unexpected. Out of the darkness of an iconic American tragedy, Mallon finds an overlooked but bright figure."
New York Times Book Review
"[Mallon] here views the events in Dallas from Mrs. Paine's perspective, which gives them an unexpected freshness."
Austin Chronicle
"[Mrs. Paine's Garage] is entirely unlike any other book about the assassination. It reads like a good detective novel."
Library Journal
For all the paper tonnage inspired by the murder of John F. Kennedy, it has also produced a small shelf of timeless literary journalism. To Garry Wills and Ovid Demaris's profile Jack Ruby and Jean Stafford's eccentric dialog with Marguerite Oswald, A Mother in History, Mallon adds this portrait of witness Ruth Paine and a life admirably lived in the face of national tragedy. The Oswalds shared Mrs. Paine's house during the months prior to November 22, 1963, when Lee left quietly for work with the rifle he'd secretly kept in the Paines' garage. Most of the too-familiar events in Dealey Plaza gratefully occur offstage in Mallon's telling; his concern is more with Ruth Paine's life with the Oswalds before the assassination and her determination to preserve her life whole in the years after, when so many of the tragedy's other surviving principals became household names in the conspiracy debate. In addition to showing us this Quaker woman's successful struggle, Mallon (Dewey Defeats Truman; Henry and Clara) surveys the culture and "unfinished" national grieving of the Kennedy assassination, contrasting Ruth's earnest diaries and good works with the shrilly sinister online speculations about the Paines made by conspiracists. A first-rate attempt to demystify and bring light to a corner of the assassination story through the humanizing arc of one person's life. Nathan Ward, "Library Journal" Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Offbeat study of Ruth Paine, an ordinary woman who wished to reach out to a Russian immigrant and learn her language-and wound up sheltering Marina and Lee Harvey Oswald.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375421921
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/07/2002
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
312,189
File size:
295 KB

Meet the Author

Thomas Mallon’s books include the novels Henry and Clara, Two Moons, Dewey Defeats Truman, and Aurora 7, as well as a collection of essays, In Fact. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The American Scholar, and GQ. He lives in Westport, Connecticut.

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Mrs. Paine's Garage and the Murder of John F. Kennedy 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An outstanding story of a tragedy that could touch anyone. That is what touched me, this type of tragedy could indeed happen to any of us, and that is what endeared the perceptions of Mrs. Paine to me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this book. An awful time in history recounted by a noble woman. This is a fascinating read from the first page to the last.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Perhaps the reviewer should look into Mrs Kennedy's charities and restoration involvements before making his/her comments
VikVC More than 1 year ago
I remember how his wife was treated like a criminal, I thought it was inhumane. She didnt know anything, I could tell. She just lost her husband the same way the presidents wife did, and they never showed any sympathy. In those days ,as a child, I could tell everyone treated the presidents wife like she was a God. I could never understand that, she had never given of herself or had helped the people of this nation, never helped charities, as far as I know. She didnt even have to go to trial....but Marina was treated like a criminal, how unfair, I still feel we are all the same, God didnt choose who should get special favors....