|Digital List Price:||$16.00|
Save $6.01 (38%)
Brothers in Arms: The Kennedys, the Castros, and the Politics of Murder Kindle Edition
|New from||Used from|
|Length: 561 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible book with Whispersync for Voice. Add the Audible book for a reduced price of $7.49 when you buy the Kindle book.
Try Kindle Countdown Deals
Explore limited-time discounted eBooks. Learn more.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Customers who bought this item also bought
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Castro may have been behind--or at least did nothing to stop--
the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Covering a period from
1961-63, the book follows the activities of John and Robert Kennedy,
the Castro brothers, and particularly Lee Harvey Oswald, as well as
a cast of characters connected to the Castros or working at the Cuban
embassy in Mexico City, where Oswald went in the early fall of 1963
to try to return to the USSR, to which he had defected (and met his
wife Marina) in the late '50s before returning to the U.S. It is
reasonably clear that Oswald sympathized with the Cuban cause, however,
and it is also clear that Oswald was not simply a loser envious of the
glamorous Kennedys. While we will probably never know the whole truth
of what happened on November 22, 1963, this book may help unlock some
of the mystery. Read and decide.
The first problem is that only about a quarter of the book deals with this question at all. Hundreds of pages are spent rehashing some oft-told tales--the biography and personality of Lee Harvey Oswald (LHO, for short), the Lee-Marina courtship and marriage, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the Cuban Missile Crisis, how Bobby grew spiritually after Jack's murder, and so forth. For a reader familiar with these topics, there is almost nothing here that's both new and worthwhile--it strikes this reader as little better than padding designed to lengthen the book, and perhaps to disguise the thinness of the Cuban material. The authors would have done better to discard some of their manifestly unreliable sources and ludicrous tall tales, and turn the better material at their disposal (there is some) into a long magazine article or short book focused entirely on the question of Cuban relations with Oswald.
A second problem is that it's not at all clear exactly what the authors are and are not claiming about the degree and character of Cuban involvement. At times they make very strong statements: LHO was "used by America's Cuban enemy"; he acted "with the aid and comfort of Fidel and Raul Castro"; the assassination was "a Cuban-bred terrorist plot"; Oswald was a "Cuban-aligned sleeper agent" who was recruited in 1962, paid thousands of dollars, and led to believe that he would find refuge and protection in Cuba if he killed JFK. But they also make far weaker claims: LHO "plotted JFK's murder on his own initiative"; he acted both on his own and as an instrument of Cuban intelligence, "recruiting himself while being recruited by them"; the Cubans "encouraged LHO from the wings, in a stage whisper heard only by him" (this last is a particular favorite of mine--the sinister guiding hand of Cuba turns into a stage whisper heard only by the actor himself!).
Extraordinary claims need to be backed by extraordinary evidence--and even a very hedged claim of Cuban government involvement in the Kennedy assassination is extraordinary, given the enormous risks Castro would have been taking had such involvement been discovered, and the uncertain value of even a successful plot (why would Castro think that Johnson's Cuba policies would be better than Kennedy's?). Do Russo and Molton have such evidence? It's not at all clear that they do. Just as it's hard to tell exactly what the authors are and aren't claiming, so it can be hard to judge to what extent the evidence that their sources offer does or doesn't back up those claims.
Some of that "evidence" is of very little value. They rely far too often on what one might call "retroactive eyewitness testimony"--people who at some time after the assassination recall having met LHO, or seen him doing something or meeting with someone. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, and this version of it is even more so. This "I've seen that man before!" reaction is very common when some previously unknown person becomes famous or infamous; there were literally thousands of reports of Oswald sightings after pictures and TV images identifying him as JFK's assassin appeared. Often he was "recalled" to have been "seen" associating with people linked to whoever the "eyewitness" thought was responsible for the assassination: CIA agents, members of the Mafia, anti-Castro Cuban exiles, generals, tycoons, Daddy Warbucks, etc.
Less dubious, but still quite problematic, evidence comes from a second category of informant: persons who the authors believe to be former intelligence officers and are willing to speak provided that their real names are not used and--if filming is involved--their faces are concealed. There is "Nikolai", a Soviet/Russian senior intelligence official who claims to have secured (rather limited) access to KGB files concerning Oswald. At first he seems to offer sensational information: in 2005 a "former general in the KGB" told him (Nikolai) that when LHO returned to the United States in 1962, Soviet intelligence "recommended Oswald to Cuban intelligence". But that's not what Nikolai himself reports; after having allegedly gotten a look at the relevant file himself, he says only that it was suggested to Cuban intelligence that it "observe" (in the sense of "keep an eye on", "look out for") Oswald, who was also described as "ideologically unsound and psychically unstable". That doesn't strike me as much of a recommendation--certainly not for a potential assassin of an American president.
Then there is "Oscar Marino", described as "a former high Cuban intelligence official". Put aside the fact that he is describing, in 2005, details about Oswald's "recruitment as an agent into the Cuban Secret Service" more than 40 years earlier, in 1962. There's a much more serious problem with his credibility. When he is asked why Cuban intelligence would recruit someone as difficult, unstable, and unreliable as LHO, his answer is that Cuba was so desperate for agents in the United States that it was forced to take whoever it could get. This seems to me an implausible answer, for two reasons. First, no reasonable organization that is supposed to handle serious issues of national security prefers to take on someone who could well do it enormous harm; far more prudent to pass on him and keep looking for someone better. Second, Cuban intelligence is elsewhere described by the authors as extremely effective in the States--it has completely penetrated the Cuban exile community, has gotten inside the CIA itself, can slip agents across the US-Mexican border with ease, and--get this--even has a spy close to JFK himself ("the Professor", who reports on internal White House deliberations)! This doesn't sound like an intelligence service that's forced to take anyone it could find; which was it, supremely effective, or desperate for anybody who could fog a mirror?
The best Cuban intelligence source--"best" because we are given his name (Vladimir Rodriguez Lahera) and told that he defected to the US in 1964 and that the CIA "unanimously agrees that he is telling the truth". But even here there are problems. How did this young intelligence officer (27 years old in 1964) learn about the contacts between Oswald and Cuban intelligence both before and after Oswald's visit to Mexico City in the autumn of 1963? According to him, from a group of "senior Cuban intelligence officers" who started discussing the matter with each other at a lunch at which he was present. Sorry, but this picture of senior intelligence officers blabbing over lunch about such serious and dangerous matters in front of a 27-year-old junior colleague is unconvincing. And what does he report them as having said? Only that LHO had "probably been considered at least some sort of Cuban asset" and that there had been "contacts" with him both before and after Mexico City. This is a very long way from being a "Cuban sleeper agent" acting with the encouragement, support, and direction of Cuban intelligence. Put differently: if they were yakking about it over lunch, it wasn't that important, and if it was that important, they weren't yakking about it over lunch.
Have the authors shown any clear Cuban contribution to the Kennedy assassination? That is, anything that LHO could not or would not have done entirely on his own? Was he paid by the Cubans? It's claimed that he was paid "thousands of dollars", but the only trace of such money that Russo and Molton have found is that in the period from late 1962 to early 1963, a little over $100 (you read that right) "can't be accounted for by any known Oswald source of funds". If Cuban intelligence wanted to help him escape, then why didn't he escape? If they planned to kill him immediately after he killed Kennedy, then why did he live? (Or is the claim that Jack Ruby was another Cuban agent?) If they wanted to be sure he was successful, couldn't they have provided him with a deadlier weapon? (His rifle was certainly usable and effective, but the only bullets available for its cartridges were military-style full metal jacket, not the far more destructive hollow-point or soft-point type). Did Cuban agents work him into a rage against Kennedy? But there's ample evidence that he was quite capable of doing that on his own, given his temperament and his well-documented political views.
I despise the Castro regime and am quite prepared to think ill of it. If one is looking for a conspirator, that government is the best candidate. In the very unlikely event that the most secret files of three governments (Cuban, Soviet, and American) concerning events half a century old are ever fully revealed, Russo and Molton may be vindicated (though I doubt it). But the most that "Brothers in Arms" can be said to have made plausible is that Fidel Castro knew of the threats that LHO made against JFK in Mexico City and did not take them seriously--and that a possible Cuban connection should have been examined more carefully by the Warren Commission, and probably would have been had not Lyndon Johnson, Bobby Kennedy, and the CIA not, each for their own reasons, kept certain crucial information from it.
That's a slim harvest from a five hundred page book. It's not enough to overturn the basic conclusion of the much-maligned, and also justly criticized, Warren Report: Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin of JFK, and acted alone, on his own initiative and using only his own resources. Half a century later, there is still no credible and convincing evidence of any wider conspiracy.