Thursday, August 04, 2011

Book Review: "Brothers" by David Talbot

I have just completed reading "Brothers - The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years" by David Talbot. While it is principally about Jack and Bobby Kennedy, you could be forgiven for thinking that is is about Cuba (first part of book), and assassination conspiracies (second part of book). The Kennedy's dealings with Cuba/Castro, and the fall-out from JFK's murder dominate the book. Talbot has written an easy to read, thoughtful, and very interesting book.

Book Cover Photo
from Barnes and Noble.
I have not read much about the Kennedys (with the exception of Robert Dallek's masterful biography - "John F Kennedy: An Unfinished Life"), but of course as is common with most people of my generation, I know a lot about the Kennedys. The death of JFK on November 22nd 1963 is my earliest memory, while I recall the day in Carnew NS in 1968 when a girl was sent around to all classes (I was in 3rd class) to tell us that first, RFK had been shot, and secondly a few hours later that he was dead. I also visited Dealey Plaza when on a business trip to Dallas in the late 1990's.

What stands out for me from Talbot's book is the number of people and organizations that existed in the early 1960's that would have wanted both JFK and RFK dead - their enemies outnumbered their friends. It was amazing to me that the President of the United States had little or no control of the CIA who continued to plot against Castro in direct contravention of orders from the President. As the book goes on there is more and more detail on each conspiracy - Talbot makes it clear that he does not believe the Warren Commission Report that Oswald acted alone. But he does not propose a compelling alternative. Though many of the participants are now dead, Talbot has interviewed many of their relatives in an effort to gain further insight into the assassination of JFK. Alan Brinkley of the New York Times has written a review of Talbot's book that I find captures the essence of the book.

This book is an interesting read, though I think that only JFK/RFK researchers will find it useful for new material. Today we are no nearer knowing who shot JFK, and Talbot casts doubt (without much evidence) that Sirhan B. Sirhan acted alone in killing RFK. These two biggest crimes of the 20th century are still no nearer to being solved.

I recommend this book - well written and interesting. Reference is made on several occasions to the Abraham Zapruder film that was suppressed for many years. Thanks to YouTube we can all now see the moment that JFK died:

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