Print Edition: January 11, 2012
Me & Lee, by Judyth Vary Baker, is a controversial non-fiction account of a woman’s personal relationship with a man who was made infamous by being accused of being the assassin who shot and killed President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Most books and studies of Lee Harvey Oswald conclude that he was either a lone madman assassin or that he was tragically set up by some internal source. This story—it can be called that, because of the literary first person narrative in which it’s written—takes the latter stance.
The first five chapters of the book are slow, but interesting. They concern the childhood and upbringing of Mrs. Baker which led to her fated meeting with Mr. Oswald, who Baker claims to have been a CIA agent who tried to save JFK’s life, but was ultimately pinned as the killer. Judyth Baker was a rising young scientist who was researching cancer and its effects on the human body. In the book she claims she dedicated most of the year of 1963 to creative a virus that was to give the Cuban leader Fidel Castro cancer. Lee Oswald was to be the agent to smuggle in the virus.
The events surrounding Oswald certainly are strange. Who was this young man who seemed to appear in so many places? He seemed to be at the centre of everything in the 1960s. Judyth’s book provides some highly plausible answers to many questions that JFK Assassination Conspiracy theorists have been posing for the past half century. She fills in the blanks and satisfies the reader’s curiosity.
In the end, Judyth makes many extraordinary claims. Some have challenged them, but she has always backed up everything she possibly can with proof and evidence – and she has plenty of both. In addition, she provides many stimulating visuals – mostly photographs and photocopied documents. The book is in many ways heartbreaking. Though it is a love story, it is not a love story first and foremost. It is firstly a story of duty and of cold war espionage.
Mrs. Baker does not always paint a portrait in the book where everything is rainbows and puppy dogs. She is clear to us that the relationship she had with Lee Harvey Oswald was one in which she was cheating on her husband, knowing that Oswald was also married. She is candid, but explains to the reader that she was very young—only 20—and was very much in love with Oswald.
Lee Oswald is portrayed as human, as a secret agent and as a man betrayed by the system he trusted. His story is impossible to tell without also telling Judyth’s. It is the tale of evil triumphing over good, where the reader meets a new face previously unimagined in Me & Lee. It is not the face of a cold blooded murderer, nor the face of a lone radical Marxist gunman, but the face of a hero, an innocent young man of twenty-four who tried to do the right thing, and was exiled in history as the murderer of one of the most beloved presidents of all time.
Of course we will never really know the truth. Documents concerning the JFK Assassination are not scheduled to be declassified for a very long time, and Mr. Oswald was himself assassinated on live television. There is certainly much speculation of the events of the fateful day of John Kennedy’s assassination, and there are many questions concerning Lee Harvey Oswald – few of which have ever been completely answered, but perhaps Mrs. Baker’s account can shed some light on the events that transpired, and can point us in the right direction.