MADISON- Everyone remembers where they were the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, November 22, 1963.
Robert Shows says his junior high chemistry class in south Mississippi partially erupted in cheers when the intercom announced that the president had been shot in Dallas.
“Kennedy was really hated in the South, especially in Mississippi,” Shows says. “The reaction was jubilation with some students. Some were crying. Most were cheering.”
More interested in sports than politics at the time, Shows says he neither cheered nor cried as he wondered whether he would make the basketball team that semester.
After earning his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Mississippi, the Madison physician practiced in the medical corps of the U.S. Army First Cavalry Division and currently specializes in primary and urgent care with MEA Medical Clinics in Byram.
As the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination approaches, Shows revisits the event in his new novel “A Sentence of Death: Words that Killed a President.”
A writer and history buff for more than 20 years, Shows’ offers a “what might have been” scenario that while fictitious is certainly plausible at least to more than 70 percent of Americans who think that a conspiracy at some level led to the killing of President Kennedy.
“What I did is take the points of historical fact, the events before, during and after the assassination and connect those for a plausible scenario for a possible conspiracy,” he says.
Shows tells the story of three FBI agents who share a terrible secret, one that involves the Mafia, the presidential motorcade route through Dallas and a Communist activist named Lee Harvey Oswald.
The secret unites them for three decades and carries them from D.C. marinas to the French Quarter to abandoned Air Force hangars in New Jersey.
While Shows is quick to point out that his book is a novel, the story is inspired by a 1978 U.S. congressional resolution that agreed Oswald was the shooter but that the case was the result of a conspiracy the members of which “cannot be identified.”
“That’s an interesting sentence,” Shows says. “Basically the U.S. government has gone on record saying the president was murdered by a conspiracy but there’s been very little if any follow-up.”
Also a student of math and physics, Shows was similarly inspired by a recent cliometrics study that factored in all of the evidence from the assassination and came up with a mathematical probability that there was a likely conspiracy by rogue elements in the government with ties to the Mafia.
“I’ve had no one call and say that was impossible,” Shows says.
Shows says that if Kennedy had survived the assassination he would have been re-elected in 1964 and would have gotten an early start on domestic programs like civil rights and welfare while avoiding major involvement in the Vietnam War. History would have been different.