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Recovered History / November 24, 2011
By Mark Ames

I recently came across a book from the late 1970s called “Kill Without Joy: The Complete How To Kill Book” written apparently by a Canadian locksmith. The hard-boiled title belies the book’s dark comic flair. Or maybe it’s just the war nerd in me that finds this book oddly mood-enhancing. It’s exactly what it says it is: A practical “How-To” manual on the many ways to kill a human being.

Whether or not Kill Without Joy is meant to be serious or parody or for the vast market of nerds who think they’ll someday become dark professional killers, it is an entertaining read and most of the information seems to make sense. He really went out of his way to catalogue everything from the obvious to the bizarre.

One passage that really stuck out, in the section on “how to assassinate,” was this description of Jack Ruby’s murder of Lee Harvey Oswald 48 years ago today. Remember, the author is apparently Canadian, from Ottawa:

One of the best visual representations of an assassination that I’ve ever seen is the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby. Ruby was strictly pro in that photo showing him pumping bullets into Oswald. One should note that the left hand is drawing back the jacket and the gun has no sooner cleared leather than it starts shooting. The grip on the gun is also interesting and further backs the suspicion of Jack being a pro. He’s using his middle finger to squeeze the trigger and his index finger, the normal shooter’s trigger finger, is pointed right at his target. He shoots where he points. This method is not too well known in the States but the method was SOP with wartime SOE and SIS agents of Britain. Another method advocated by them was the stamping of the right foot and thereby lunging forward and firing at the same time two shots in rapid succession at each target that presented itself.

I had never thought about this before because Ruby seemed like such a bizarre noir-dad from another era. Also the iconic photo of the shooting focuses on Oswald’s gasp, and the cop-escort’s recoil. But here is the larger photo that the author of “Kill Without Joy” is talking about, Ruby really is lunging forward and does, come to think of it, look plausibly more “pro” and less like someone’s deranged dad from this angle:

“Strictly Pro”

Anyway, food for thought on this Thanksgiving anniversary of Jack Ruby’s hit on JFK’s assassin.

Here’s a video of the shooting:

Oh, and speaking of turkeys, Kill Without Joy has some carving tips for all you would-be assassin-nerds and turkey-avengers:


Happy Thanksgiving!



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Add your own

  • 1. John Drinkwater  |  November 24th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Why use the middle and index fingers in that way? To keep the gun straight on target is the only thing I could think of, but is that really necessary when you’re shooting from that close with no resistance?

  • 2. kid  |  November 24th, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    This book and all the old paladin/loompanics books are all available on scribd and torrent sites now. All the fun with none of the right wing horseshit that attends a gun show

  • 3. gwern  |  November 24th, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    The eery thing about that photo is that Ruby is fully extended in his stance, gun out, and the angle makes it look like his gun is practically touching him – and no one seems to notice! Everyone is grinning or looking away or something!

  • 4. RobertD  |  November 24th, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Ames in “get’s bored halfway through writing book review and gives up” shocker or maybe it’s just that I’m a cheap ingrate piece of fucking shit who doesn’t pay for anything and still whines, in other words “i want my teabag!”

  • 5. helplesscase  |  November 24th, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving, bastards!

  • 6. my talkative ringpiece  |  November 24th, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Wow. I’ve shot ….. a lot. I’ve never tried that technique. Now I’ll have to try it! And, the foot-stamp thing, that sounds like something from fencing, which I’ve done a little of, and I can see where it would work.

    Look at how small Oswald is. He’s a little ballet-dancer of a guy, a small target. The average pistolero could easily have shot all 5 shots (I believe that’s one of the smaller, 5-shot revolvers there) while only grazing Oswald or certainly not delivering a killing shot. Most pistol action is real spray-and-pray stuff, because of the shortness of a pistol; it’s easy for a small hand movement etc to throw it way off target.

    Ruby was a nightclub owner, so he probably did enough of his own “bouncing”, and probably knew a few basic boxing moves. Also, those small revolvers are hard to deal with if you have big hands. So, he could have come up with the techniques shown in the photo on his own. But it’s uncommon to be actually very effective with one of those little “belly guns” at any distance at all.

    Things that make you go Hmmmmm…..

  • 7. kid  |  November 24th, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    BTW in the same book the author claims you can cause an OD with LSD. Paladin Press tended to nurture posers. Their most famous book “Hitman”, which some loser in florida used as a guide, turned out to have been written by a housewife. That came out in the lawsuit.

  • 8. my talkative ringpiece  |  November 25th, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Those old books were a scream. Some of the illustrations in The Poor Man’s James Bond could have been drawn by an 8-yaer-old. There were books on doing dirty tricks like sending magazine subscriptions and pizzas to your “target”, all kinds of dirty tricks MUA-HA-HA-HA (think that kid who carried a canteen in Stand By Me doing his best diabolical laugh). How to make C4 and “Mickey Mouse Safety Fuse”. You could just imagine Kurt Saxon cackling to himself as he wrote about how it’s mean to test your poisons on feral cats, so test it on “winos” instead. Those books probably sold hand-over-fist before the Internet came along. A bookstore not too far from where I lived had an “island” of them, in stacks.

    Someone could probably have a museum/library of these gems, there were enough written and a lot by independent nutballs, not just the big boys like Loompanics and Paladin, but then part of the costs of operation would be the un-ordered pizzas coming in, prank calls, annoying subscriptions to “Test And Measurement News”, and cherry bombs in the mailbox set off with Mickey Mouse Safety Fuse.

  • 9. casino implosion  |  November 25th, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Sounds like one of those Loompanics/Paladin Press titles that would have been advertised in the back pages of Soldier of Fortune circa 1983.

  • 10. marksmiserabledadmirer  |  November 25th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Hi Mark, Jim Goad and Gavin McGinnis here. We just can’t get over you. We’re the ones who fed Joel B. Pollak all that hilarious info that exploded like a megaton H-bomb. Read all about how awesome we are here:

  • 11. Fissile  |  November 25th, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Ruby a pro? Just before Ruby shot Oswald he said, “You killed my president, you rat!” Sounds more like someone who had seen too many James Cagney movies. “Ooh, you dirty rat. You killed my president.” Would have really been funny if Ruby had a grapefruit instead of a revolver.

    As for Loompanics/Paladin, most of those books were written by posers and outright frauds. Kurt Saxon, for example. “Kurt’s” true name is Don Sisco. Saxon/Sisco is a high school drop out. Back in the sixties he was a neo-Nazi “storm-trooper”. After bouncing around and failing at a number of careers, he became a survivalist guru. He has no training as a chemist. Consider that before you attempt whipping up any of old Kurt’s “recipes”.

    While most of the books from the above two publishing houses were written by phonies, some of the authors were the real deal. There’s a dude who wrote for Loompanics under the nom de plume of “Uncle Fester”. Fester is a trained chemist. Following the directions in Fester’s books, one can manufacture real meth, or high explosives, or even nerve gas! The Japanese death cult, Aum Shinrikyo used one of Fester’s books to produce the Sarin nerve gas that was used to attack the Tokyo subway, killing 12 people and injuring hundreds of others.

  • 12. my talkative ringpiece  |  November 25th, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Saxon not only didn’t use his real name which is indeed Sisco, but he went through all the various far-right-wing groups in turn, and managed to blow his hand off fooling with some kind of explosive. He then lived, in San Francisco, on General Relief and found himself living among the kind of poor who are always with us. He found tons ‘n’ tons of old how-to’s in books from the 20’s and 30’s and tried to get his fellow down-and-out’ers interested in building stuff to sell, somehow elevating their position. They weren’t. But this got Sisco/Saxon interested in finding stuff old enough to be out of copyright, and re-printing it.

    Half of the time I laugh at, and half of the time laugh with, the old coot. His fiction book “Wheels Of Rage”, about a motorcycle gang, is hilarious. I’d love to see one of the old underground comix guys do it as a comic, Gilbert Shelton ideally.

    I always wanted some Fester books, if just for the name. But then I’d also probably want a chem degree, and the sense to not actually do anything that’s in the Fester books.

  • 13. CHarlie  |  November 26th, 2011 at 10:20 am

    “Or maybe it’s just the war nerd in me that finds this book oddly mood-enhancing.”

    “War Nerd,” eh? Well, so much for the ambiguity there huh Ames…or should I say Gary?

  • 14. Jedi Mind Trick  |  November 26th, 2011 at 11:53 am

    “This method is not too well known in the States”

    While I understand the author is Canadian and has thus never seen a firearm nor book, that method of shooting is not well known because it doesn’t exist.

  • 15. Fissile  |  November 26th, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    @12, “Fester” was a chem major and good student. He was also interested in sports and body building. In an attempt to juggle too many activities, he started cooking meth and became a tweeker. He then started supplying his friends with meth and that’s where the trouble started.

    One of Fester’s friends was arrested for possession of meth and rolled over on his supplier. Even though it was Fester’s first offense, some Nixonian era “law and order” type judge gave Fester a lengthy prison sentence. Fester felt that he was “being made an example of” since he was a white kid from the suburbs with a college degree and that anyone else would have walked on a first offense.

    Pissed off for being “made an example of”, Fester borrowed a typewriter in prison and produced his most famous tome, “Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture”. Since it was first written, this book has gone through numerous updates and reprints. It has been found by law enforcement at meth labs throughout North America and all over the world.

    As an encore, Fester has also written books on how to produce REAL high explosives and various poisons, including nerve gas.

    I sure Ayn Rand would have been proud.

  • 16. Goddamned Dot  |  November 26th, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Woah, Uncle Fester, I haven’t thought of him for years…. I remember an epic forum fight that featured dueling anarcho chemist types. Eleusis vs. Uncle Fester in alt.drugs.chemistry circa ’96.

    and it went like this:

  • 17. Fissile  |  November 26th, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    @16, Thanks for the link, I haven’t seen that before.

    Like I said, if you want entertainment, go to Kurt Saxon or Ragnar Benson. If you need real, useful info, go see Fester.

  • 18. my talkative ringpiece  |  November 26th, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    With my the jury’s out on this method of shooting until I can get to the range. However, upon thinking about it, with a revolver you get hot powder grains and sometimes actual bullet shavings from the cylinder/barrel gap. With autos, you have the slide, the slightest drag on which can fuck up the functioning of the gun. So, burned/sliced finger or jamsville, I dunno. But it might be possible to align the index finger so it’s not rubbing on the slide, and for the revolver, most of the time it’s just a little powder spray, and keeping the finger low may avoid most of that.

    Geez, Fester’s sure a name from the past, from all those magazine ads in the 80s. If I see one of his books at a garage sale or something, I *will* pick it up. But I have a pretty lame record as a chemical experimentalist, for instance, I tried making Sterno for some reason and just ended up with useless gop.

  • 19. John Birch  |  November 27th, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Ruby this, Jack that. The professional assassin’s real name was Jacob Rubenstein. Make of that what you will.

  • 20. Trevor  |  November 27th, 2011 at 6:25 am

    I agree with Ames, it’s fun reading these silly little nerds trying to sound tough with stuff like “strictly pro!” shooting. Ruby may be doing everything the book says but I still say he looks like a deranged dad. Of course I’m from Virginia so growing up all the deranged dads in the neighborhood really were spending all their time at the gun range.

    Not that they really needed to. See, and this’ll upset all the wannabe fascist dweebs, guns ain’t that complicated. Point, pull, you hit it or you don’t. The rest is commentary and rather embarassig commentary at that…

  • 21. rogereggbert  |  November 27th, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    I really wish you would stop dancing around this topic, Mr. Ames. You keep on hinting that you think the JFK assassination was a conspiracy and I’d like you to post a complete essay of your opinions on it. Personally I was became open to the idea of a conspiracy after reading Don Delillo’s novel Libra, which posited an extremely plausible scenario in which a rogue faction of the CIA sets up Oswald. Please tell us what you think.

  • 22. Jesse  |  November 28th, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Maybe with an automatic the pointing index finger thing would work but with a revolver the index finger would rest on the cylinder which of course rotates as the trigger is pulled.

  • 23. C367  |  November 29th, 2011 at 3:05 am

    @14, it does exist and it’s fairly well known in Europe when firing revolvers, much less so with automatics.

  • 24. Paladin Press  |  November 29th, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Kid, … Our authors would take issue with your statement of catering to posers.

    Perhaps you should take a fresh look at what kind of Police and Military science material Paladin Press delivers, … and has since 1970.

    Knowledge is Power – Sharing Knowledge is Freedom

  • 25. Machak  |  November 29th, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Wow. I can’t believe that you actually reviewed this book.
    Takes me back, it does. As soon as I got my Balkan ass on the Internet, I started downloading Paladin and Loompanics books. I was aware that they’re mostly bullshit, but they were so damn amusing.
    Sometimes they are (believe it or not) useful. I remember some manual for lockpicking that actually contained good info.
    Unfortunately, I never had enough balls to follow some of ole Fester’s recipes. Only thing I actually tried to make was a bit of thermite.
    I also remember something about Ruby lacking a part of his shooting finger. That was why he actually used this, errrm, “technique”.
    Or perhaps I’m just mistaking him for someone cool and dangerous-looking, like Lee Van Cleef.

  • 26. Paladin Press  |  November 29th, 2011 at 11:40 am

    It sounds like Paladin Press, (one way or another) has had some influence here.

    Please consider ordering directly from us versus downloading illegal copies that take money away from our authors.

    Many, notably in the Special Forces, have sacrificed quite a bit to make their information available.

  • 27. Fissile  |  November 29th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    @25 Ruby was missing the tip of his index finger on his LEFT hand.
    “During the scuffle, Dickerson bit Ruby’s finger so badly that the top half of Ruby’s left index finger was amputated.”

    The picture of Ruby shooting Oswald shows him holding the gun in his right hand.

    Yes, Lee Van Cleef was also missing part of a finger…tip of the middle finger on his right hand…lost it in a construction accident.

  • 28. Fissile  |  November 29th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I’m gonna call BS on the “How to Kill Book”. I’ve got years of shooting experience, and I’ve never heard of “the technique”. I just tried this “technique” using one of my revolvers. As you can see from the pic, the index finger will interfere with the rotation of the cylinder.

    Just another Walter Mitty book with no basis in reality.

  • 29. John C. Cox  |  December 19th, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Uh, hate to bust anybody’s bubble about Jack Ruby’s “Hit man professionality)) but he had no choice in using his middle finger to pull the trigger since he’d lost most if not all of his right index finger several years previously in an altercation.
    From the Record of Ruby’s Polygraph test:
    Mr. Herndon. Now, the next thing I want to put on will be on your hand and I’ll put it on your right hand here. I notice you have one finger cut off on that hand. What happened there, Mr. Ruby? Mr. Ruby. Oh, running a nightclub you get involved in various altercations.

  • 30. Digger upper  |  January 14th, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Douche…Rubys right index finger was amputated…and you make shit up about “middle finger technique” You give researchers a bad name

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