Maggie Cohen, the daughter of Max Cohen and Bessie Kessler, was born on Long Island in 1913. Her mother had come from Latvia and her father from Lithuania. It had been pointed out by John Kelin , the author of Praise from a Future Generation (2007): "Their business was clothing - the shmate industry, Yiddish for the self-deprecating term sometimes used by its practitioners, the rag trade. According to family lore, Max and Bessie were the first to copy French fashions and reproduce them commercially in the United States. They traveled to Paris several times a year. Bessie would sketch the clothing shown by top designers, and Max would manufacture them."
As a child Maggie suffered from poor health. By the time she was twelve years old she had undergone five mastoidectomies. She was a talented singer and her teacher wanted to take her on a world tour as a promising opera singer but her parents rejected the idea. Maggie gave up singing and decided to study at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.
During the Second World War Maggie married Joseph Field. In 1945 they moved to California and after running an orange grove her husband became a stockbroker. Maggie became interested in politics and was a strong supporter of Adlai Stevenson. After he failed to be nominated in 1960 she switched to John F. Kennedy.
After Kennedy was assassinated Maggie found it difficult to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman. In 1964 she worked closely with Ray Marcus on investigating the case. When the Warren Commission Report was published in September 1964, Maggie bought a copy and over the next few months studied the 26 volumes of supporting evidence. She also discussed the report in great detail with her new friend, Sylvia Meagher. She helped her with her plans to publish a subject index to the report. Maggie argued that when it was finished "it would constitute a unique contribution that would be valuable to present researchers and those in future".
In 1965 Meagher published Subject Index to the Warren Report and Hearings and Exhibits. As Meagher pointed out, studying the entire twenty-six volumes without a subject index would be "tantamount to a search for information in the Encylopedia Britannica if the contents were untitled, unalphabetized, and in random sequence." Penn Jones purchased five copies so that he could "loan them to anyone interested in studying them."
Maggie Field continued to give support to other researchers such as Mark Lane, Edward Jay Epstein, Léo Sauvage, Vincent J. Salandria and Harold Feldman. She wrote in a letter to the Minority of One in September 1966: "Thanks in part to Lane, Epstein, Sauvage, Salandria , Feldman and a few others the unspeakable subject has become a matter for public discussion. To you goes one of the largest accolades, for you were able to assay the infamy correctly from the outset and you continued to pursue the question doggedly and enduringly when others had long since abandoned the campaign."
In late 1966 Maggie Field was approached by two journalists, Lawrence Schiller and Richard Warren Lewis, who were writing an article about the critics of the Warren Commission. The article was published by the New York World Journal Tribune on 22nd January, 1967. It was followed by a book, The Scavengers and Critics of the Warren Report (1967) and a record album, The Controversy (1967).
Schiller and Lewis used all three to attack the credibility of critics such as Maggie Field, Shirley Martin, Penn Jones, Harold Weisberg, Ray Marcus, Vincent J. Salandria, Mark Lane and Sylvia Meagher. Field was described as a housewife with too much time on her hands. Martin was called an "amateur detective with a passion for Agatha Christie mysteries" whereas Penn Jones was dismissed as a "drawling backwoods prophet" and falsely as an alcoholic who carried a "pint of bourbon in his hip pocket". The most savage attack was on Lane: "His wily showmanship helped sway millions of converts. But there were still millions more who realized that Rush to Judgment really belonged on top of the fiction best-seller lists."
Field's book on the Kennedy assassination, The Evidence , was rejected by Random House in 1967. She decided to revise the manuscript: "a complete and total revamping of each page". However, she was unable to find a publisher. Her friend, Ray Marcus commented: "I know she was frustrated and disappointed about this, although she rarely said so - it would be super human for her not to be." He believed that if it had been published it would have been one of the most important books on the case.
Maggie Field told the Los Angeles Free Press in December, 1967. "Until we can get to the bottom of the Kennedy assassination, this country is going to remain a sick country. No matter what we do. Because we cannot live with that crime. We just can't. The threat is too great. There are forces in this country who have gotten away with this thing, and will strike again. And not any one of us is safe."
Maggie Field died of a blood disease on 31st July, 1997.
Thanks in part to Lane, Epstein, Sauvage, Salandria , Feldman and a few others the unspeakable subject has become a matter for public discussion. To you goes one of the largest accolades, for you were able to assay the infamy correctly from the outset and you continued to pursue the question doggedly and enduringly when others had long since abandoned the campaign.
Until we can get to the bottom of the Kennedy assassination, this country is going to remain a sick country. No matter what we do. Because we cannot live with that crime. We just can't. The threat is too great. There are forces in this country who have gotten away with this thing, and will strike again. And not any one of us is safe.