Thursday, November 22, 2012


Image credit: WikiCommons

Word association game.
Life - death.
War - peace.
Love - hate.
Assassination - _____________.

Fill in the blank.  

My unscientific random analysis coupled with a poll of one reader influenced by a predisposition for all things conspiratorial, lead me to be convinced that the overwhelming majority of baby boomers would fill in the above blank with either “JFK” or “Kennedy.”

Forty-nine years ago today marked the first time I can ever remember having heard that word used.  It has, for me, become inextricably connected with the events of that fateful day in Dallas, Texas.

For reasons unexplained, I’ve always been interested in the origin of words and their romantic stories.  According to Wikipedia, “The word assassin is often believed to derive from the word Hashshashin (Persian: حشّاشين, ħashshāshīyīn, also Hashishin, Hashashiyyin, or Assassins), and shares its etymological roots with hashish.”  The legend goes on to include stories of professional killers who were under the influence of hashish when sent upon their murderous missions of mayhem during the crusades.

Further research brought me to the discovery that the first literary use of the word was by William Shakespeare in 1603 when he penned Macbeth.  Here is the line from whence it came.

“If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly: if the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,”

Perhaps that outtake is also the origin of the “be-all/end-all” expression. [How’s that for a non sequitur?]

On November 22, 1963, I was in the sixth grade.  Our class wasn’t exposed to the study of Shakespeare until high school.  By that time, we had become familiar with enough assassins to last a lifetime: Sirhan Sirhan, James Earl Ray, and [maybe] Lee Harvey Oswald for starters. Later a generational icon would fall at the hands of Mark David Chapman and perpetuate the idea of many conspiracy buffs that assassins known by three names were actually members of the CIA.

Forty-nine years after the Kennedy assassination, my first novel has been published and features a woman who is an elite professional assassin.
She may never become a household name in our culture.
She could possibly experience her fifteen minutes of fame with baby boomers.  
She doesn’t use hash. She likes vodka and cranberry.
She’s not in the CIA.
She goes by only two names.
Claudia Barry.


  1. A thought-provoking post, Chip. I've always loved word origins, too.
    Your protagonist in your novel sounds intriguing. I'll have to order a copy with my Christmas money! :)
    Blessings to you!

  2. Martha,
    Thanks for stopping by and for commenting.
    The JFK assassination make me a lifelong believer in the conspiracy theory of history.
    [Thanks for the interest in my book. E-bk version is priced less than a gallon of gas! LOL]

  3. Very well done. We always remember where we are the exact moment we heard of the JFK assassination. Some of us still have a chill when we remember where we were when we heard about the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. It was a time when elections were won or lost with bullets instead of ballots.

    1. I suppose a person is lucky if they live a life with very few such significant emotional events.
      The space shuttle, Challenger, comes to mind as well.
      Thanks for the comment.