I was unprepared for a book as blunt as NEMESIS proved to be.
Admittedly, under the law, it is impossible to slander a dead person, but a few of the players in Peter Evans' report still are alive, such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' sister and Senator Edward Kennedy. Nonetheless, they undoubtedly would be construed as public figures under the libel laws of the United States. Evans, therefore, obviously is comfortable with some of the allegations that he makes here.
Nobody who reads this book ever will feel the same about any of the primary cast of characters. President Kennedy reads almost like a sexual pervert and, according to Evans, his wife may have defined the concept of the "Merry Widow." Her sister, Lee Radziwell, comes over as even more ungrounded than Jackie was in conventional morality regarding adultery--and this is being polite.
According to Evans, Marilyn Monroe sounds anything but simple, and Robert Kennedy appears almost venal. Evans casts doubt on everything including the motivation behind Jackie's pregnancies and those of Ethel Kennedy, considering them to be largely political tools contrived by the husbands. This seems hard to believe.
The person who comes across worst is Aristotle Onassis. Among the other assertions in this book, it is claimed that Onassis originally had been a homosexual and that the basis of his fortune had come from drug smuggling.
The kicker is that Evans states that Onassis had arranged for the assassination of Robert Kennedy, his "nememis" of the title, by Arabic terrorists.
NEMESIS makes for gripping reading, one of those books that prove impossible to put down until the very last page.
on August 7, 2004
The Cast of Characters in this book is unequaled for sheer social and political wattage: Bobby, Jack, Ari, Jackie, Princess Lee, Marilyn, Maria, Gore, Truman -- top-drawer icons of the 50's and 60's who possessed the cachet of first-name-only reocognizability. "Nemesis" gives the confluence of these starcrossed lovers -- and trust me, they all slept together -- a
bloodless quality, as though we have stumbled into a smoky room in Hell where deals with the devil are made. But first we meet Christina, the daughter for whom the yacht (upon which so much of the power sex in this book takes place) is named. Mere months before her suicide, bright but doomed Christina drops a bombshell over lunch with the author, illustrating a connection between Bobby Kennedy's assassination and Aristotle Onassis'
Within each family many secrets were held, from each other and from the world. "Nemesis" depicts the outer edge of an age where secrecy was still available from the press as well, and politicians and other celebrities were able to live in half-shadow, to disguise the emptiness of their arranged lives. Their wanton dance of destruction in this environment is fascinating to watch. If the author had said, in one of his many footnotes, that he had strapped an old gypsy woman to a lie detector machine and verified that she was responsible for placing the curse on the Onassis and Kennedy clans, I'd believe him. You can't read about young Alexander Onassis dying in a plane crash without thinking of John Kennedy, Jr. Obviously, there is a pox on both their houses. How else can you explain
so much unhappiness and loss in the midst of so much privilege and wealth?
The story of Kennedy and Onassis lends itself to conspiracy theories. (Look at the two names together . . . each has seven letters with two consonants in the middle; that's got to mean something!) Mr. Evans has familiarized himself with the voluminous material available on the topic (including Anthony Summers "Goddess," which places Bobby in Marilyn's house the day she died) and he hacks through the forest of speculation surrounding the families with a silent chainsaw, stylishly, but at times indelicately, providing a stream of jaw-dropping facts and sublime quotes which recall Truman Capote as he decimated his beloved socialites in "La Cote Basque."
In fact, Mr. Evans runs the risk of casting doubt upon the veracity of his book because he's obviously having such a good time with the antics of his monsters . . . it is a tale about shady tale-tellers after all, and truth really is stranger than fiction. But to those as curious as Mr. Evans is about this era, his suppositions have the ring of truth to them.
In the absence of empathy or compassion, however, this book suffers. Every one of these creatures, with the exception of poor Maria Callas, seems to exercise their worst motivation at every opportunity.
Although the author makes it hard to see the principals as anything more than a pack of horny, sociopathic vampires drawn to each other in some kind of weird, karmic death embrace, you get the feeling he has given you the goods. I honestly feel I never need to read another word on Kennedy or Onassis after "Nemesis." Nor do I want to. (We want to see them hoisted up, but we don't necessarily want to see them beaten with sticks.)
Peter Evans has supplied a great read that appeals -- in spite of the occasional feeling that, even with all the footnotes and attributions and acknowledgements, he might not have it quite yet. There is the whiff of speculation. After all, Christina Onassis loathed Jacqueline Kennedy. So Evans has buttressed his central revelation with several sources who back him up in his assumption. It seems credible. "Nemesis" reads like a political thriller, which indeed it is, a real-life
"Manchurian Candidate." And if it's true, it is easily one of the most incredible and horrifying stories of our time.
It's the kind of book where you stop at times and marvel at how
beautifully, and savagely, written it is. And how talented Peter Evans is.
He's a great storyteller.
on July 4, 2004
This book is a fascinating and addictive read. I could not put it down, unless I was throwing it down in shock, complete and utter shock at the way our so called "American royalty" lived their lives! But everytime I threw this book down, I picked it up again and continued -- the truth hurts, but it must be read! Peter Evans has spent more than 30 years researching and writing about Aristotle Onassis (He wrote the bio "Ari: The Life and Times of Aristotle Socrates Onassis"). He has demonstrated his insider access and ability to get candid interviews, quotes and details -- it's all in the book and the footnotes!!
This author spent time with Onassis, his daughter Christina and many of Onassis's closest relatives and associates from the late 1960's on. His theory, that Aristotle Onassis paid Palestinian terrorists to have RFK killed is supported not just by rumor and circumstantial evidence -- but by the confessions/revelations of Aristotle and Christina Onassis, business associates of Aristotle and one of his many lovers. Plus scribbling in Sirhan Sirhan's notebooks (that were entered into evidence at his trial) that implicated Onassis to anyone who was familiar with his world (and apparently convinced his own son of his involvement!).
You will not believe the reckless sexual behavior of Jackie, her sister Lee, the Kennedy men and just about everyone else in their world! Or how Ted Kennedy reportedly "pimped" Jackie when her intention to marry Onassis was announced (read the footnotes!).
If you think I have told too much you really need to read this book -- this isn't even the half of it!
Very well written, researched and documented. I am already hunting down books listed in the foot and end notes. New, used, you've got to read this book!
on November 17, 2013
Were this book not so well cited by too many people in positions to know...well...I wouldn't believe one word of it. But Peter Evans did his work with scrupulous attention to detail: he named people, times and places, and has direct quotes. As much as I love the Camelot illusion of the 60s, what I now know for truth is JFK was an ailing womanizer propped up by a ruthless father's money and an equally ruthless younger brother's brash acts. Bobby was venal and mean, using the Office of Attorney General to dispose of Kennedy opposition. Jackie was nothing more than a high-class courtesan who loved money more than anything else in the world with the possible exception of her children. She knowingly stabbed her sister Lee in the back using sex to gain grasp on the Onassis fortune, and this was before Jack was assassinated. Bobby either killed Marilyn Monroe or behaved in a way that caused her to kill herself...then got the hell out of town before the police arrived over six hours after the body was found. It might be a stretch to believe that Onassis paid for the killing of Robert Kennedy until you see the incredible treachery woven through the almost incestuous relationships of the jet set and their sycophants. Just consider the fact that Tina Livanos Onassis married her brother-in-law Stavros Niarchos after he beat her sister Eugenie to death and then stuffed her throat full of barbiturates to make it look like an overdose. Power. Sex. Money. They create strange bedfellows and even stranger business arrangements. America lost her innocence on November 22, 1963; I lost mine upon reading this book. Highly recommended by a former acquisitions librarian.
on June 14, 2004
I read this book on a flight from Boston to London, and over a weekend, and was gripped from its opening revelation that the Onassis-Bobby Kennedy feud went all the way back to the 1950s, and festered calamitously for nearly 20 years. It explained a lot about Jackie's extraordinary marriage to the Greek billionaire that had been (to me anyway)inexplicable.
Although its central revelation (that it was Onassis money that paid for Bobby Kennedy's murder)is interesting, and very well documented, it is the insights to the characters who inhabited the society in which the Kennedys, Jackie O, and Onassis moved, and clashed, which make this book so enjoyable. Not all of them are attractive people but none of them is boring. In spite of its essentially tragic theme, it has some gloriously funny moments, too. I was reminded of a typical Scott Fizgerald tale about the rich, with shades of John le Carre.
I started out being cynical about the major claim of this book. If I am still not one hundred per cent convinced about some of the author's disclosures - although he is clearly very well informed, both about terrorists and socialites - I am less cynical about its overall premise. There is plenty that rings true and which explains many of the long-unanswered questions about the astonishing Kennedy-Onassis marriage.
I have read quite a few Kennedy books dwelling on the same or similar areas, and this is exceptionally revealing. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in Bobby Kennedy's assassination as well as to those who want to know more about Jackie, Bobby, Aristotle Onassis, and the world in which they lived.
on July 8, 2004
I found this book, intriguing, interesting and sad because it is so credibly written. The footnotes are at times more interesing than the book. The research, the interviews the documentation of where people where, when events occured. Facinating.
I have been an admirer of Bobby Kennedy all my life. The poise and class of Jackie Kennedy seemed so believable, undeniable. Sure many know all the stories about the Kennedy men. (I for one wonder when he had time to be president, he seems to have had so many women) Turns out Jackie Kennedy Onasis could keep pace with the darker side of Jack Kennedy and was even greedier than Joe Kennedy.
Myths die hard. The author creates the sense of being inside the unraveling of the mystery. It is amost voyeristic to read about the tradegies that these wealthy people created for themselves.
I think this book is a must read, but be prepared to be disappointed in what you learn at some level. For in short, there simply never was a happily ever after life in Camelot.
on October 22, 2004
There is so much "dirt" in this book, that one almost wants to take a shower after reading it. No one is spared. Onassis, Jackie, JFK, Bobby, Christina, Marilyn, Maria Callas, and almost everyone with whom they came in contact comes off as sleazy, disreputable, and worse...far worse. There are some eye-opening theories, such as the "Manchurian Candidate" programming of Sirhan Sirhan. I might have scoffed at this, but after the events of 9/11, I would have to believe that anything is possible in this world. I first heard of this book through Liz Smith's column, and that's what puzzles me about it. With so many bombshells about so many important people, why wasn't this book at the top of the best seller list for months? Why wasn't the author on all the talk shows? In short, why was there so little publicity? Is it because most people think it's merely tabloid trash, without much validity, or just the opposite...so accurate that no one wants to touch it? Read it, and decide for yourself.
on July 20, 2005
The most sensational claim Evans makes is that Aristotle Onassis indirectly paid for RFK's murder.His 'proof' is shockingly inadequate.
Central to Evans's thesis are entries in Sirhan's notebooks which purportedly connected Aristotle Onassis to the assassin. Evans alleges Sirhan's notebooks make reference to Alexander Onassis's girlfriend Fiona, whom his father detested, and Stavros Niarchos, his shipping rival, whom he also hated.
However, Evans's juxtaposition of names to prove Sirhan wrote about killing Onassis's enemies is misleading. Sirhan had placed the name FIONA in a list of racehorse names - Fiona, Jet-Spec, Kings Abbey and Prince Khaled. The Arabic script consists of one sentence "He should be killed" (not "They should be killed" as Evans alleges) and does not refer to either Niarkos or Fiona.
The diary entry "Niarkos" remains unexplained, as do many other entries in Sirhan's notebooks, but there is no indication it refers to anyone on a Sirhan 'Death List'. The words in Sirhan's notebooks were the result of simple stream-of-consciousness ramblings he learned from Rosicrucian literature as ways to improve his life. The notebooks are filled with names of people Sirhan knew - Bert Altfillisch, Peggy Osterkamp and Gwen Gum for example, and people he didn't know like Garner Ted Armstrong. The entries which refer to $100,000 were simply Sirhan's obsessions about wealth and appear a number of times in the notebooks.
Also central to Evans's thesis was the implication that Sirhan had spent a three month period before the assassination being trained by terrorists or undergoing hypnotic indoctrination. Evans was wrong in stating Sirhan's movements were unaccounted for, or "a blanket of white fog" as he put it. Sirhan's movements in the months prior to the assassination leave no unaccountable period when the assassin could have spent a considerable amount of time being "hypnotically indoctrinated." In the year preceding the assassination Sirhan was seen frequently in the Hi-Life bar in Pasadena by waitress Marilyn Hunt.He was also seen in Shap's Bar during this period. In July 1967 Sirhan filed a disability complaint for workmen's compensation. Between July and September 1967 Sirhan's mother and brother Munir said Sirhan went often to the Pasadena library.Library records confirm he borrowed books during the so-called 'white fog' period. Sirhan's mother said her son `..stayed at home for over a year (sic) with no job'(October 1966 to September 1967). Sirhan, by his mother's account, often drove her to work during the time he was unemployed. On 9th September 1967 Sirhan began work at John Weidner's health food store.Weidner reported no long periods of absence up to the time Sirhan left his employ in March 1968. So how did Sirhan `emerge(ed) from this `white fog' in March 1968, (and) joined the (Rosicrucians)' as Evans states? (Author's note: Sirhan actually joined the Rosicrucians in June 1966.) And, as I point out in my review of Evans' book in Crime Magazine, ([...] ), Sirhan's movements in the three month period before the assassination leave no time unaccounted for.
Dominick Dunne is wrong - this book will not change history.
on July 4, 2005
I guess I'm more of a prude than I realized -- I was completely unprepared for the money-grubbing decadence of the rich and famous, particularly Jackie Kennedy!
Jackie stole her sister Lee's lover, right from under her nose the week before Jack was killed. Ari hated Bobby Kennedy and paid to have him killed. When Ari was dying, Jackie was skiing. Ari refused to let Jackie redecorate his bedroom in the exclusive Paris apartment (it was decked out like a room in a brothel) to remind her of what she really was. Enroute to bury Ari (no saint by any means!), Ted Kennedy was trying to negotiate a better settlement for Jackie....
And, it's not just Jackie & Ari. Joe, Jack & Bobby Kennedy were bedding everyone. Throw in some Winston Churchill, Jr. and FDR, Jr. and you've got one amazing saga. NEMESIS is a must read for the average person wondering what's REALLY going on! The Kennedy's Camelot was a complete farce!
on May 10, 2014
This is one juicy book. Corruption, graft, greed, and every sin imaginable is the order of the day here. We are to believe that Aristotle Onassis was a killer, brutalizer of women, possible drug dealer, horrible father, and much, much more; Jackie Kennedy was a greedy, backstabbing adulteress/whore whose great loves were money, power, and, of course privacy; and Robert Kennedy was a controlling, grudge-holding, hate-filled bastard. The intimate associations are so close that they border on incestuous (sisters Jackie and Lee and Tina and Eugenie sharing men, for example). Then there are the mysterious, untimely deaths--plane crashes and explosions, pill overdoses, MKULTRA-induced assassination, etc. It never ends. I want to caution those who still believe there was really a Camelot. You might not be able to handle seeing the Kennedys stripped bare as the immoral people that they apparently were. Jackie Kennedy will always be revered as First Lady, but you probably wouldn't like her as a person. Bobby Kennedy might have made a decent president, given the chance, but he was very much about pushing his own personal agenda. It seems that he was hated by most people--and he returned that hatred right back. For those who still place the Kennedys on a sacred pedestal, check all those fantasies at the front cover because this will be one bumpy read.