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Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 8, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 167 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, May 8, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Those looking for new insight into John F. Kennedy's presidency will want to read this meticulously researched chronicle. Talbot, the journalist-founder of online newsmagazine Salon, sticks to the facts, starting with a timeline of then-attorney general Bobby Kennedy's actions on Nov. 22, 1963, the day his brother, the president, was killed. Immediately suspicious of the CIA, the Mafia and the Cuban exiles they're involved with, Bobby made it his mission to expose this "shadowy nexus"; much of the book concerns the Kennedy brothers' relationships with members of those factions as they dig for the truth. Talbot profiles friends and enemies, taking readers into JFK's strained work with Pentagon officials who famously pressured him to take a chance on the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. Later chapters deal with the aftermath of JFK's, and then RFK's, assassinations, and the final chapter contains Talbot's incisive conclusions on those momentous years. Talbot's only weakness is in covering too much-with more than 150 original interviews, Talbot is forced to move too quickly from event to event, making his numerous characters hard to keep straight. Still, it's an admirable feat of reporting, and one that will spark conversation among conspiracy theorists, historians and others who lived through the Kennedy era.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Although the literature about the assassination of John F. Kennedy could fill a decent-sized library, Talbot, founder of salon.com, proves there's always more to say. His book purports to reveal new information (based on interviews with more than 150 insiders and experts) about the Kennedy presidency, but its real appeal is its casting of Bobby Kennedy as "America's first assassination conspiracy theorist." According to Talbot, from the moment he heard about his brother's murder, Bobby believed it was the culmination of an elaborate plot involving Cuban exiles, organized crime, and elements of the CIA, and he never stopped trying to expose the plotters. By focusing on Bobby's quest for justice, Talbot avoids most of the pitfalls of the who-killed-Kennedy books. Rather than asking us to believe a conspiracy theory, he simply asks us to understand what Bobby believed and why he believed it. The book also explores Bobby's own political career and makes a good case that he was murdered by the same people who killed JFK. A persuasively written, substantive addition to the Kennedy collection. Pitt, David --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Book Club edition (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743269187
  • ASIN: B0012F9VY8
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (167 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,578,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By F. james on August 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It took me a while to actually get into the book. It took about 40 or 50 pages.
I've read tons of material on JFK's murder and this book initially felt like just another rehash of all of the other evidence that other people have flogged to death. It is much more than that, however.
Most importantly, it provides the historical context for JFK's murder. Though it is not as thorough with the lead up to RFK's murder, he does provide a fair bit of context for RFK's murder in 1968. He does not, however, capture the mood, the near-panic of that spring/summer, as first MLK and then RFK was gunned down. Because I lived through those tumultous times, as a kid growing up in Detroit, I can safely say that it felt like the world was starting to spin off its axis. He does not quite capture that feeling or sense.
But he does a great job of providing that kind of feel for the time period leading up to Dallas in '63. I'd forgotten many of the details about the events from that time. Talbot pulls it all together with lots of detail and fact and illustrates how JFK's murder was almost an inevitable event. Considering everything that led up to it.
It always amuses me when one reads critical comments such as those offered by negative reviewers here, comments that in no way address the real factual issues and concerns that have remained unresolved for over 40 years. Critics simply lapse into ad hominem attacks and never, ever address the huge factual and logical holes in the Warren Commission approach to this crime.
As someone who tried criminal cases for a living, I believe that any case against Oswald as a lone nut killer is so full of holes, it probably could not have been charged, if he had lived.
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Format: Hardcover
If you think you know all there is to know about the Kennedy presidency, you will learn more than you expect from reading the new material in Brothers. If you don't think you know enough yet to satisfy you, Brothers is a must read.

The title of the book is a little misleading. Brothers is really focused on RFK and a few of his most loyal lieutenants. The lieutenants were so close to the Kennedys that they felt like and were treated like brothers.

As time passes, historical events become clearer. But if you wait too long to render judgment, you lose the testimony of those who participated in the events. Brothers is unusual in that sense: It adds the views from 150 new interviews, but unavoidably loses some perspective as many witnesses are no longer available and many important documents remain classified.

Here are some of the new perspectives Brothers brought to my attention:

1. JFK wasn't really in control of the CIA and military while he was president. The CIA was off running anti-Castro operations in violation of direct presidential orders. The Bay of Pigs invasion was planned by the CIA from the beginning as a ploy to trigger an American military invasion of Cuba which the Joint Chiefs supported.

2. Some in the Pentagon were pushing for a preemptive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union in 1961.

3. JFK and RFK had so little confidence in the Secret Service that they were planning to put presidential protection under the attorney general's office.

4. The Cuban missile crisis was more dangerous than I believed. The Soviets had many more troops than the CIA believed and those troops were equipped with tactical nuclear weapons and permission to use them against an American invasion of Cuba.

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Format: Hardcover
Brothers chronicles how the children of elites attempted to take on the United States power structure from within the administrative branch--and who the enemies were, determined to bring them down.

Because several preceeding books have previously been written about the Kennedy brothers, readers might initially be skeptical about picking up David Talbot's work. I can affirmatively assure them that this one is a keeper for your personal library. It reads like a really good mystery book which you know just has to make it to the screen someday.

Talbot disperses some light-hearted trivia throughout his book (Jack was a forerunner of what would be known as 'metrosexual' because he would hold meetings in his underwear' and commented on the attractiveness of other men) but it is not a celebrity triva book. He provided the trivia to take readers into the complex psyches which constructed both men in eras when they were, frankly being immortalized as plastic and one-dimensional images.

A strength of Talbot's writing is that he is obviously an admirer of the Kennedy's. He gets a little too partisan at times, but comparatively appears less partisan than earlier books in the pro-Kennedy camp. Footnotes are provided at the back of the book for reference, so he's not just shooting off his mouth for the sake of it.

I was born well after the times referenced in this book, but the well-writen text took me to the places referenced and drew me in. I really understood the radical potential the Kennedy brothers had for transforming America and why the modern new right organized against them so fiercly.
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