David Talbot Brothers

ISBN 13: 9781847391056

Brothers

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9781847391056: Brothers

Robert F. Kennedy was the first conspiracy theorist about his brother's murder. In this new account of the Kennedy years, David Talbot explains why - even on 22 November 1963 - RFK had reason to believe that dark forces were at work in Dallas.

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About the Author:

David Talbot, author of the New York Times bestseller Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, is the founder and CEO of Salon. He lives in San Francisco.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1

NOVEMBER 22, 1963

Like all Americans who lived through that day, Robert F. Kennedy never forgot how he heard his brother had been shot. The attorney general, who had just turned thirty- eight, was eating lunch -- clam chowder and tuna sandwiches -- with United States Attorney Robert Morgenthau and his assistant by the pool at Hickory Hill, his Civil War-era mansion in McLean, Virginia, outside the capital. It was a perfect fall day -- the kind of bright, crisp Friday afternoon that makes a weekend seem full of promise -- and the grounds of the rolling green estate were afl ame with gold and red leaves from the shedding hickories, maples, and oaks that stood sentry over the property. Kennedy had just emerged from a mid- day swim, and as he talked and ate with the visiting lawmen, his trunks were still dripping.

Around 1:45 p.m., the phone extension at the other end of the pool rang. Kennedy's wife, Ethel, picked it up -- she held the receiver out to him. J. Edgar Hoover was calling. Bobby knew immediately something unusual had happened. The FBI director never phoned him at home. The two men regarded each other with a taut wariness that they both knew would only be broken when one of them left office. Each represented to the other what was wrong about America. "I have news for you," Hoover said. "The president's been shot." Hoover's voice was blunt and matter of fact. Kennedy would always remember not just the FBI chief 's words, but his chilling tone.

"History cracked open" for America on November 22, 1963, as playwright Tony Kushner observed years later. But the abyss that opened for Bobby Kennedy at that moment was the deepest of all. And it was Hoover, of all people, who brought him news of the apocalypse. "I think he told me with pleasure," Kennedy would recall.

Twenty minutes later, Hoover phoned again to deliver the final blow: "The president's dead," he said and promptly hung up. Again, Kennedy would remember, his voice was oddly flat -- "not quite as excited as if he were reporting the fact that he had found a Communist on the faculty of Howard University."

Hoover's curt phone calls confirmed that the "perfect communion" between the two brothers, as the New York Times' Anthony Lewis described the bond between President John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy -- a fraternal relationship unprecedented in presidential history -- was over. But they also clearly conveyed that Bobby had suffered a death of a different kind. His own power as attorney general instantly started to fade, already to a point where the director of the FBI no longer felt compelled to show deference, or even common human grace, to his superior in the Justice Department.

For the rest of the day and night, Bobby Kennedy would wrestle with his howling grief -- crying, or fighting against crying since that was the Kennedy way -- while using whatever power was still left him, before the new administration settled firmly into place, to figure out what had really happened in Dallas. He worked the phones at Hickory Hill; he met with a succession of people while waiting for Air Force One to return with the body of his brother, his brother's widow, and the new president; he accompanied his brother's remains to the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital; and he stayed coiled and awake in the White House until early the next morning. Lit up with the clarity of shock, the electricity of adrenaline, he constructed the outlines of the crime.

From his phone calls and conversations that day -- and into the following week -- it's possible to trace the paths that Robert Kennedy pursued as he tried to unveil the mystery. "With that amazing computer brain of his, he put it all together on the afternoon of November 22," his friend, journalist Jack Newfi eld, remarked.

RFK's search for the truth about the crime of the century has long been an untold story. But it is deeply loaded with historic significance. Kennedy's investigative odyssey -- which began with a frantic zeal immediately after his brother's assassination, and then secretly continued in fitful bursts until his own murder less than five years later -- did not succeed in bringing the case to court. But Robert Kennedy was a central figure in the drama -- not only as his brother's attorney general and the second most powerful official in the Kennedy administration, but as JFK's principal emissary to the dark side of American power. And his hunt for the truth sheds a cold, bright light on the forces that he suspected were behind the murder of his brother. Bobby Kennedy was America's fi rst assassination conspiracy theorist.

Predictably, the first phone call that Bobby made on November 22 after his initial conversation with Hoover was to Kenny O'Donnell. JFK's chief of staff had accompanied the president to Dallas and was with him at Parkland Memorial Hospital when he was pronounced dead at 2:00 p.m. Tough, taciturn, Boston Irish, O'Donnell was second only to Bobby himself in his political guardianship of the president. A close friend since they roomed together at Harvard and played on the college football team, O'Donnell was the man Bobby would have wanted at the scene of a crisis if he couldn't be there himself. As a B-17 bombardier, he had fl own thirty missions against Nazi Germany, was shot down and then escaped from enemy prison. In his final, legendary game as quarterback at Harvard, he ran for the winning touchdown against archrival Yale on a broken leg.

Bobby ran upstairs to phone O'Donnell from his bedroom, while Morgenthau and his assistant were led to a TV set in the drawing room at Hickory Hill. Not finding O'Donnell at the hospital, Kennedy spoke instead to Secret Service agent Clint Hill, the only offi cer who had performed heroically on the president's behalf that afternoon. Images of Hill rushing to leap onto the back of JFK's moving limousine would forever become part of the iconography of that eerie day.

It's not known precisely what Bobby learned that afternoon from the Secret Service man. But there was a darkness that immediately began growing in Hill and O'Donnell about what they'd seen and heard in Dallas. Neither man would ever be the same after November 22.

O'Donnell was riding immediately behind Kennedy's limousine in the Dallas motorcade, just ten feet away, along with fellow Boston Irishman Dave Powers, the White House aide and court jester. They were front row witnesses to the assassination. Powers would later say it felt as if they were "riding into an ambush." O'Donnell and more than one Secret Service man would tell Bobby the same thing that day: They were caught in a crossfire. It was a conspiracy.

Bobby Kennedy came to the same conclusion that afternoon. It was not a "he" who had killed his brother -- it was a "they." This is how he put it to his friend, Justice Department press spokesman Edwin Guthman. The former Pulitzer Prize-winning Seattle Times reporter had become close friends with Kennedy during the 1950s when they both put themselves on the line to investigate corruption and thuggery in the Teamsters' union. Guthman was one of Bobby's "band of brothers," as the attorney general years later inscribed a picture of his young, idealistic Justice Department team. The battle cry from Shakespeare's Henry V appealed to Bobby's sense of heroic mission: "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers / For he to-day that sheds his blood with me / Shall be my brother.../ And gentlemen...now a- bed / Shall think themselves accursed they were not here." If the perfect communion between Jack and Bobby was at the heart of the Kennedy administration, it was this wider circle of brothers -- all intensely devoted to the Kennedy cause -- who gave the New Frontier its blood and muscle. Bobby would quietly turn to several of these trusted aides to help him on his quest for the truth.

Guthman was having lunch with a congressman from Seattle on Capitol Hill when someone came rushing in to tell them the president had been shot. He immediately drove to Hickory Hill, where he spent the rest of the afternoon with Bobby. By now, Kennedy family members were gathering at the Virginia estate. But Bobby was also surrounding himself with "brothers" like Guthman. The two men paced endlessly together, back and forth on the backyard lawn. "There's so much bitterness I thought they would get one of us, but Jack, after all he'd been through, never worried about it," Kennedy told Guthman.

"Bob said, 'I thought they would get me, instead of the president,' " Guthman said, recalling the conversation years later. "He distinctly said 'they.'"

Guthman and others around Bobby that day thought "they" might be coming for the younger Kennedy next. So apparently did Bobby. He was normally opposed to tight security measures, which he found intrusive and perhaps even a sign of cowardice -- "Kennedys don't need bodyguards," he had said, even after he began receiving death threats as the crime-busting attorney general. But that afternoon, Kennedy allowed the Fairfax County police, who rushed to Hickory Hill after the assassination without being summoned, to protect his home. Later, the police were replaced by federal marshals, who encircled Kennedy's estate after Guthman and other RFK aides spoke to Chief U.S. Marshal Jim McShane.

Bobby trusted McShane and his men. James Joseph Patrick McShane was a street-tough Irish New York cop. He had worked with Bobby as an investigator for the Senate Rackets Committee in the late 1950s and had served as bodyguard for JFK during the presidential campaign. He and his men had put their lives on the line in the civil rights battles of the South, saving Martin Luther King Jr. from a howling mob that had surrounded a church in Montgomery, Alabama, where he was preaching in May 1961. The following year, McShane and his ragtag troops had again formed a thin, bloodied line in defense of James Meredith, the black student who set off a fiery white uprising when he enrolled at the University of Mississippi. McShane was "built like a tank, had the crushed nose of the Golden Glov...

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Book Description Simon Schuster Ltd, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. ed. Language: English . Brand New Book. Robert F. Kennedy was the first conspiracy theorist about his brother s murder. In this astonishingly compelling and convincing new account of the Kennedy years, acclaimed journalist David Talbot tells in a riveting, superbly researched narrative why, even on 22 November 1963, RFK had reason to believe that dark forces were at work in Dallas and reveals, for the first time, that he planned to open an investigation into the assassination had he become president in 1968. BROTHERSalso portrays a JFK administration more besieged by internal enemies than has previously been realised, from within the Pentagon, the CIA, the FBI and the mafia. This frightening portrait of sinister elements within and without the government serves as the background for the emotionally charged journey of Robert Kennedy. Reading it, you can absolutely believe any number of people would have been happy for both brothers to meet a sticky end. The tragedy, not just for America but for the world, is that since their murders no one has had the nerve to stand against the dark forces they challenged in quite the same way. Bookseller Inventory # AA89781847391056

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Book Description Simon Schuster Ltd, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. ed. Language: English . Brand New Book. Robert F. Kennedy was the first conspiracy theorist about his brother s murder. In this astonishingly compelling and convincing new account of the Kennedy years, acclaimed journalist David Talbot tells in a riveting, superbly researched narrative why, even on 22 November 1963, RFK had reason to believe that dark forces were at work in Dallas and reveals, for the first time, that he planned to open an investigation into the assassination had he become president in 1968. BROTHERSalso portrays a JFK administration more besieged by internal enemies than has previously been realised, from within the Pentagon, the CIA, the FBI and the mafia. This frightening portrait of sinister elements within and without the government serves as the background for the emotionally charged journey of Robert Kennedy. Reading it, you can absolutely believe any number of people would have been happy for both brothers to meet a sticky end. The tragedy, not just for America but for the world, is that since their murders no one has had the nerve to stand against the dark forces they challenged in quite the same way. Bookseller Inventory # AA89781847391056

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