With family connections as his starting point, former Arizona Secretary of State and scholar at the Kennedy Library Mahoney probes the intriguing relationship between Kennedy brothers "cool" Jack and "hot tempered" Bobb to provide a new perspective to a well-studied slice of American history. Their mutual devotion, as well as their loyalty to family patriarch Joseph, is explored with a serious, somber yet vibrant reading by Peter Altschuler and offers an engaging look at an iconic family as well as a persuasive take on the tumultuous 1960s: what led up to the era and how it continues to influence events of today.
Books about the Kennedys are legion. Yet missing until now has been the exploration of the bond between Jack and Bobby, and the part that it played in their rise and fall. Eight years apart in age, they were wildly different in temperament and sensibility. Jack was the born leader—charismatic, ironic, capable of extraordinary growth and reach, yet also pathologically reckless. Bobby was the fearless, hardworking Boy Scout—unafraid of dirty work and ruthless about protecting his brother and destroying their enemies. Jack, it was said, was the first Irish Brahman, Bobby the last Irish Puritan.
As Mahoney demonstrates with brilliant clarity in this impeccably documented, magisterial book, the Kennedys lived their days of power in dangerous, trackless territory. The revolution in Cuba had created a poisonous cauldron of pro- and anti-Castro forces, the CIA, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, and the Mafia. Mahoney gives us Jack and Bobby in all their hubris and humanity, youthfulness and fatalism. Here is American history as it unfolds. The Kennedy Brothers is a fresh and masterful account of the men whose legacy continues to hold the American imagination. (Originally published under the title Sons and Brothers.)
Richard D. Mahoney is Kennedy Scholar Emeritus of the University of Massachusetts. He is an expert on international economics and foreign policy. He is the author of two histories of the Kennedy administration, and was the Democratic secretary of state and acting governor of Arizona. He lives in Phoenix.
©1999, 2011 Richard D. Mahoney (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I have been looking for a balanced history of the time of the Kennedy brothers for a long time. Although I was too young to vote in 1960 when John Kennedy ran for President, I was old enough to be serving in the US military so I remember the Presidential campaign and his Presidency very well. And, like most people who were adults at the time, I remember exactly where I was when I first heard about his assassination in Dallas, Texas as well as the assassination of Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles, California.
I thought that histories of the Kennedy Presidency written shortly after the assassinations of John and Robert tended to lack objectivity and to be more paeans of praise than real histories and that those written during the 1980s tended to be revisionist and overly critical focusing on conspiracy theories, long on innuendo but short on facts. I bought this book because I felt that perhaps the 40+ years since the assassinations was enough time for historians to have gained the necessary objectivity to view the events of the period more dispassionately and write in a more balanced fashion.
This book centers on the relationship of the brothers during their time in office and especially during the time of John's Presidency. The central idea of the book, as described in the introduction, is that Robert's actions as Attorney General led directly to the events in Dallas and his brother's death. To describe the events and their linkages to the assassination the book covers the details of John's Presidency in a good deal of detail and, for me, that seems to be one of the main issues with the Audible version. Meetings between mafia Dons, labor leaders, high level US government officials, Soviet officials, Cuban exiles and the like are described and quotes from these meetings are used liberally. While the events and the quotes may well be accurate, the Audible reader is given little information concerning the source of the quotes. Perhaps there are footnotes in the print version of this book but nothing in the Audible version indicates where the quotes came from. However Mr Mahoney's credentials as the Kennedy Scholar Emeritus of the University of Massachusetts seem above reproach and I assume the quotations are valid. Given that, the conclusions one are drawn to are hard to avoid.
This book is dense with facts, meetings, events and quotes and normally I would suggest that such an event rich book would be better understood in print where it is easier for readers to return to the previous paragraph to re-read something. In fact I found myself rewinding 30 seconds or more frequently to make sure I understood who was saying what, but the events themselves are fresh enough in my memory to have compensated for the lack of a print version and I found myself listening to hours at a time when I would normally have been doing something else. In fact I finished this book in less than 3 full days. Given it's length that gives some indication as to how the story and the narration held me.
Both John and Robert Kennedy are presented as real people with both foresight and limitations and the descriptions seem fair and real. Given the material being discussed (assassination attempts against Fidel Castro, collusion and communication with the Mafia and the stories behind both the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis, among others), what we see is a very different view of Camelot that detracts from the highly burnished view that many people have of the Kennedy Presidency. I should also mention that this is not a book about who killed John Kennedy. The book, through quotes, follows several threads involving individuals and groups who threatened to kill him, but makes no judgment concerning who may have actually done it. It does, however, have something to say about the judgment of the Warren Commission about a single shooter.
The final section of the book describes the change in Robert Kennedy after he left the office of Attorney General, ran for the U.S. Senate, became an opponent of the Viet Nam war and ran for the Presidential nomination. Of particular interest to me was the change and growth he underwent as he became more aware of the plight of the poor and neglected. The Robert Kennedy that appeared in 1969 seems like a very different Robert Kennedy from the one involved in the Kefauver Committee hearings in the 1950s.
The narration by Peter Altschuler is very good and well suited to the contents. The events described in this book may be at variance with many people's current views of the Kennedys but I think the book is very well done and well worth reading. I recommend it although some parts of it may be hard to listen to, especially for those whose view of the period was formed by the legend of Camelot.
I would rank this particular book somewhere between 5-10 out of 30 of the books I've purchased through Audible.com
The death of JFK and Bobby's reaction as well as his close relationship with his sister-in-law. The whole family dynamic of the Kennedy's is intriguing to me.
distracting "Quote" "unquote "
The brothers relationship certainly inspire some emotional response from most listeners.
Had the story not been so well written and interesting I most certainly would have returned the audio file due to Altschuler's seemingly unending need to vocalize the words, quote, unquote. This so was distracting and unnecessary. I have listened to countless Presidential non-fiction and never have encountered any other narrator vocalize these quotes.
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