Thomas Buchanan was a southerner by birth. One of his
grandfathers was the Senior Federal Judge in the State of Maryland, and his
great-uncle was one of the most famous Confederate “raiders” in the American
Civil War, later becoming Police Commissioner of Baltimore.
Buchanan was educated at Lawrenceville School and at Yale and George Washington Universities, where he became a mathematician. After that, he served for four years in the U.S. Army during WWII, rising from Private to Captain. For six years after the war, while living in the United States, he was political correspondent for more than 20 magazines in Europe and Asia. He was a victim of purges of leftists in U.S., being fired by the Washington Evening Star in 1948 when they learned that he was a member of the Communist party. He then moved to Paris, where he lived for many years and worked as head of the Programming Department of the General Organisation Company, planning the maintenance of the city of Paris’s accounting records by means of electronic computers.
Buchanan became very interested in the JFK assassination and took copious notes on it. A friend, formerly of the French Communist party, showed them to a coeditor of L’Express, which then turned them into a series of six articles during February and March of 1964. Soon after that, the series became the May 1964 book Who Killed Kennedy?, the first to be published after the assassination. Buchanan did no original research for this book and admitted it. A very interesting question concerns evidence and early publication: how could Buchanan have been interested in using validated evidence if he published his book four months before the Warren Report was issued and only six months after the assassination? The short answer is that he could not have been interested in taking the evidence seriously. Thus his book must be taken with a grain of salt.
Another interesting (and important) question about Thomas Buchanan concerns his relation to Moscow and the Communist party. Given that he was a Communist, that the Soviet Union was determined to distance itself from the assassination by any means possible, including publishing a series of articles in New Times, and that his book did essentially that, could Buchanan have been assisted by Moscow or even controlled by it? Was he truly working on his own or was he their puppet? If he did it on his own, then why the great rush? Although the final answer is not yet in, there seems to be no direct evidence for his being controlled by the Soviet Union. Perhaps he was just acting out of general sympathy for their cause.
The essence of Buchanan’s book is that Oswald did not act alone, if he even acted at all. There was a second assassin, Jack Ruby was also involved, and at least eight conspirators were actively involved, including officer J. D. Tippit. (See “Thomas Buchanan, Detective,” by Leo Sauvage.). Chief among them was a “Mr. X,” claimed to be a right-wing Texas oil baron. Buchanan proposes that the assassination was motivated primarily by fear of the consequences of the “Moscow Pact” negotiated between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. This idea implies that high powers in the U.S. were behind the plot, although Buchanan did not name anyone. Unfortunately, the theory and the book contain many errors. A first idea of them can be gotten from Sauvage’s essay mentioned above. A fuller listing appears in Disinformation, Misinformation, and the “Conspiracy” to Kill JFK Exposed, by Armand Moss (Archon, 1987). Moss recounts Buchanan’s theory of the killing roughly as: A single bullet was shot from behind and passed through Kennedy’s head at an angle of 45 degrees. It hit the floor, disintegrated, put a small round hole in the windshield, and later reappeared almost intact on the president’s stretcher. A second killer, on the railroad overpass (in spite of the two policemen and thirteen railroad employees there), fled and left his rifle behind. Altogether, the plot involved two shooters and four accomplices.
We present here a single article by Buchanan, entitled “In Defense of a Theory.” It is the second of three articles in an exchange of view with Leo Sauvage in The New Leader during Fall 1964. (See Pre-WCR Reactions by the Left.)
Thomas Buchanan wrote one earlier book, The Unicorn, which was one of two American first novels on the New York Times 1960 list of the year’s outstanding books.
Buchanan’s son (daughter?) lives in France and maintains a web page in memory of his (her?) father (http://perso.wanadoo.fr/bonnin.buchanan/buchanan.html), from which copies of Who Killed Kennedy? and The Unicorn are available by E-mail (but it didn't work the first time I tried it).