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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why does the myth persist.?
I have never understood the abiding mainly uncritical fascination with the Kennedys, and this book has enough evidence to convince anyone of the family's malign influence on modern politics.
The Kennedy's rise benefitted from the early TV age,and fully exploited it's power to dazzle an undiscerning and unconcerned electorate . This corrosive effect has persisted up...
Published on 23 Sep 2009 by P. HEATH

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting expose, lacking in sources, but worth reading!
Hersh obviously knows something (or lots of things) about Camelot not meant for public consumption. Although the book introduces some new information, few knowledgeable readers will find substantial new ground here. The best of the book is probably Hersh's recounts of Secret Service inside philoandering of the Kennedy White House. The weakest part has got to be Hersh's...
Published on 15 Jun 1998


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why does the myth persist.?, 23 Sep 2009
By 
P. HEATH "Paul Heath" (Northampton UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Dark Side of Camelot (Paperback)
I have never understood the abiding mainly uncritical fascination with the Kennedys, and this book has enough evidence to convince anyone of the family's malign influence on modern politics.
The Kennedy's rise benefitted from the early TV age,and fully exploited it's power to dazzle an undiscerning and unconcerned electorate . This corrosive effect has persisted up to the recent eulogies for Ted's demise.
Their story is the story of modern political power - somehow the soap opera of their lives,filtered through an acquiescent press, plays out as an entertainment for the people,who seem unable and unwilling to recognise the abuses it conceals.
This book is a terrible unending litany of the family's corruption ,immorality,and cynicism - an indictment of the inequality and privilege which blights the land of the free.
The book is eminently readable,moving through the masses of evidence quickly and logically.
Attribution is slightly lackadaisical, but as everyone has a Kennedy story and the main protagonists are not around to complain, the reader has to judge for himself.
Strikingly,much of the evidence incriminates the witnesses,as though ,as in war,all seems fair in promoting the inexorable trajectory of the President.
All this just reinforces the strange truth of American political life -everything is seen and known,but nothing changes - the reality of western democracy.
Packed with information (a lot of bad stuff happened)this is recommended reading for anyone interested in the reality of modern power.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Invention of a flawed hero?, 24 May 2012
By 
Benjamin Girth "NI5 MCR" (Hampstead N6) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Dark Side of Camelot (Paperback)
What are politicians for? Do we need them for inspiration - to lead us. Or perspiration, to make things work? After his assassination a young and photogenic John Kennedy (JFK)the best of America's brightest, the flawless Irish Catholic family man, has been idealised. But it took a sniper to win him such adoration.

Having watched the movie "J Edgar" which alluded to the power that the Director of the FBI had over JFK I revisited Seymour Hersh's book. It is a compelling story, the power of the Presidency compromised by the behaviour of the President. What I concluded was both JFK and Hoover chose to serve their own self interest above that of the nation. History has yet to adequately expose both of them, wisely they had loyal staff to destroy the incriminating files.

What Hersh does is to show what John Kennedy did. If you like prurient sexual scandal, did not know JFK had venereal disease, took drugs, habitually consorted with prostitutes, it is well documented. Equally he explains financial and electoral fraud, cohabitation with organised crime and the highest levels of corruption (the deal to dump the General Dynamics F111 - a rotten plane - on the Air Force).

What Hersh does not really explain is how he got away with it. Read the book and try and understand it for yourself. For me Kennedy was a man of his time, a privileged and arrogant risk taker. That was an age where men 'conquered' women and slapped them if they complained, they liked it that way and "no" meant "yes." People smoked between courses at the dinner table and every issue was either black or white. Winning was the American way, and you did not get in their way. What continues to puzzle me - even viewed from where we are now - was how the press corps were so compliant. Ask Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon (if he were alive) what they think.

Gunman /men aside, there were many people lining up armed with politically fatal facts. I doubt - and Hersh seems to prove it - Kennedy could have won the 1964 election vulnerable from so many directions. And having lost his reputation would then have been substantially tarnished. As it is the adoration of Kennedy continues, we all need heroes and it is easier to invent JFK than accept the real one. Also read more, I liked Ted Sorensen's homage or Lawrence Freedman (Kennedy's wars). Would JFK have confronted China with American military might? And what of his domestic policies? The reality of Kennedy is that his personal behaviour aside his foreign policy was flawed, confrontational and dangerous. His domestic polices showed a marked disparity between his gilded rhetoric and the lives of ordinary Americans. Read this book then look at his political legacy. From that you can balance, but not excuse, the Kennedy presidency.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So much scandle in such a short life!, 1 Dec 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Dark Side of Camelot (Paperback)
Men wanted to be like him, women wanted to be with him. And most of them were! This book charts the amazing private world of Jack Kennedy where anything was possible and he got whatever he wanted which involved the Mafia, Marilyn, Sinatra and the Brat Pack, assasination attempts on Castro, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the Cuban Missile Crisis, alleged buying of the elections, the cover up of his first marriage and the endless womanising from all the male members of the Kennedy's. All this from a man who was trusted by millions and is still seen by many as one of the best loved US presidents.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark Side of Camelot, 11 Dec 2010
Well written, dense and seemingly well researched. A good and exciting read. As to content this is an amazing divergence from what the world was given in those heady days of the 60s. While rumours did their usual rounds, the average European had little idea of how nefarious aspects of Kennedy's personal and political practices were. They felt generally that Kennedy was continuing the (relatively) clean practices of his immediate predecessors. The book also casts new light on both K's deaths; with all those skeletons in all those cupboards. Plenty of reasons for revenge. However, that's another story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dark Side Of Camelot, 14 May 2010
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This is a great book it gives complete details as to what was going on in the White House during President Kennedy's days. A lot of cover ups that could have led to a devasting 3rd world war. I would recommend this book to all who is interested in what President Kennedy did and how he ran the White House during his short term as President it will amaze you.

Anne
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars PAINFUL YET BELIEVABLE, 1 Dec 1997
By A Customer
As a life-long admirer of JFK, one who is still haunted by his death,Hersh's book was another journey into the painful,disturbing and exhilirating time that was the JFK White House. Hersh's book deserves recognition for the degree of research and excellent writing that makes this book an instant classic.What I do have a problem with are some of his conclusions... that because of his sexual obsessions, he was a president out of control, that he did NOT handle the Cuban Missile Crisis well, that the Vietnam involvement was politically motivated, and that Oswald was the lone assassin. I am especially disappointed with the last point, as he really sets up the reader to understand why those in power, the "Cold Warriors," the "dees,dem and dos guys," and the pathetic anti-Castro forces could use treason and murder to reach their aims: get rid of a president,get rid of Castro and "win" the cold war. Hersh stays away from this issue, which should have been the biggest target of his book. I must come to the realization that JFK and his family were typical of the hypocrisy of the powerful. Hersh has successfully moved me to that conclusion. Anyway, his book IS a tour-de-force that should NOT be compared to the Kitty Kelley or Randy Tamborelli trash.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting expose, lacking in sources, but worth reading!, 15 Jun 1998
By A Customer
Hersh obviously knows something (or lots of things) about Camelot not meant for public consumption. Although the book introduces some new information, few knowledgeable readers will find substantial new ground here. The best of the book is probably Hersh's recounts of Secret Service inside philoandering of the Kennedy White House. The weakest part has got to be Hersh's revisionist ideas re. the Cuban Missile Crisis, Bay of Pigs, and his overall assessment of JFK's foreign policy. In my opinion, although much of the book relates highly-charged material, Hersh pays too little attention to detailing his sources. If it sounds to good to be true - it may be a bit of literary license!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exposing Camelot's Golden Boy, 20 Nov 1997
By A Customer
Finally a book that exposes the truths about the deceit, depravity, and debauchery of Camelot. It is criminal that tens of thousands of lives were sacrificed in Vietnam to prove the manhood of the Boy Wonder. Too bad his manhood was not to be found during the Bay of Pigs Liberation.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars not groundbreaking, but valuable, 16 Jan 1998
By A Customer
Myths die hard, particularly American myths. That the myth of "Camelot"--the good ol' days under the Kennedy Administration--persists even today, in our post-Watergate society, demonstrates not only our penchant for myth-making, but our intellectual blindness as well.
Veteren investigative reporter Seymour Hersh tackles this myth in his new and controversial book, THE DARK SIDE OF CAMELOT (Little, Brown and Company, 1997; 498 pages), an effectively researched and written summation of the Kennedy years. Beginning with the origins of the family's political clout, and following through until just after the assassination, Hersh weaves a Machiavellian tale of corruption, sex, backroom deals, and intrigues that would be difficult to believe were there not so much evidence to support it.
And this is where the controversy begins: just how much of this can we believe? In the wave of publicity before the book's publication, certain commentators essentially accused Hersh of becoming a sort of an out-of-the-closet Kitty Kelley, filling his narrative with unsupported allegations, speculations, and just plain hearsay. Others bashed Hersh for supposedly telling lurid stories of Kennedy's sexual conquests. In short, the general idea was that Hersh had betrayed his ideals as a reporter, shooting instead for the lowest common denominator and a high payday.
A reading of the book proves these accusations to be false. As far as sources are concerned, there are many and they are well documented (so well, in fact, that the footnoting becomes a nuisance). When a source has been self-contradictory (such as in the case of Judith Exner), Hersh is quick to point this out. When an allegation seems to be questionable at best, Hersh reminds his reader of this. And when there are details that are simply unknowable, Hersh states this matter-of-factly as well. In no instance in the book does Hersh allow a tabloid mentality to prevail. For the intelligent reader, this is enough.
As to the lurid sex tales, there are a few mentioned in passing. But these are in no way made to stand on their own for the sake of prurient interest. When Hersh interviews Secret Service agents and recounts their stories of the young President's numerous trysts, the point is not to rehash old (and, by now, tired) ground; rather, it is to show how his escapades made JFK vulnerable to physical harm and even blackmail. This, in turn, affected much of the way the Kennedy brothers ran the country. It is true that we've heard it all before about JFK and Marilyn; what Hersh makes clear is the gamble the man took with his office and, by extension, American lives. These insights alone make the book worth reading.
This is not to say that these issues have never been dealt with before in this way; they have. Indeed, one of the flaws of the book is that it portends to add much to our understanding of JFK's administration. There is new material, but, as a whole, there's nothing that can be considered to be a revelation. Hersh treats the Cuban Missile Crisis as if he alone knows the "true" story, but on balance, his account isn't much different from James Patterson's in GRAND EXPECTATIONS. CAMELOT works best as a synthesis of all we've learned about Kennedy in the last 20 years, with the new details adding some salt to the meat.
That the details are often entertaining is gratifying. I personally did not know that JFK was kept sitting bolt upright that day in Dallas by a stiff back-brace, and the CIA plot(s) to assassinate Castro made for often hilarious reading. Hersh's style flows quite smoothly if you can discount the often intrusive, windy footnotes (apparently included to ward off charges of poor sourcing).
In all, then, THE DARK SIDE OF CAMELOT is far from the expolitive mish-mash of half-baked rumors and backroom stories it has been made out to be. It is, rather, a riveting piece of history, against the myth certainly, but implicitly fair and reliable.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Hersh's Book Tells Just Half the Tragic History., 5 Dec 1997
By A Customer
Now let me see if I got this straight--John F. Kennedy was hated in greater or lesser degrees by the following: 1) a host of CIA "advisors" along with hundreds of Cuban exiles----for JFK's command failure to give the final go-ahead for the bomber strikes necessary to give crucial air support for a successful landing on the beach at the Bay of Pigs for CIA-backed Cuban exiles in their attempt to overthrow the Castro brothers; 2) the Castro brothers----for John and Robert Kennedy's relentless attempts to remove the Castros from power in part so the US Mafia could restore its casino gambling empire to the island; 3) the Mafia----for JFK's double-doublecross in not getting the Justice Department to back-off in pursuing the Mob after the Mob provided critical support (after Chicago Mobster Sam Giancana was approached by patriarch Joe Kennedy) to get JFK the votes he needed to win the 1960 presidential race, and for JFK's failure to get rid of Castro so the Mob could reestablish lucrative casinos which had been shut down on Cuba when Fidel Castro overthrew the Mafia-backed Battista regime; 4) Members of the Joint Chiefs of the US military----for JFK's utter failures as a commander-in-chief by his placing the US (and the world) in harm's way through the unnecessary use of nuclear brinkmanship against the Soviets during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and for then caving-in to the Soviets by giving-up stategic nuclear missiles stationed in Turkey; 5) Lyndon B. Johnson----out of personal jealousy for JFK's popularity, and for Kennedy's freezing-out LBJ from any position of power in the Kennedy White House; and 6) J. Edgar Hoover----also out of personal jealousy of JFK, and in response to JFK's personal distaste and disdain for Hoover. It would appear to this reader that Mr. Hersh's marvelous investigative coup leaves unspoken the remaining weighty mass of the JFK tragedy--that being the answer to the question of Who (or Whom) would have wanted this President dead, and Who (or Whom) would have had the means to accomplish this end. Judging from the stew of highly dangerous groups and powerful individuals above, there is certainly no dearth of willing agents with the necessary means for such executive action (and it is now getting harder and harder to swallow the Warren Commission's lone gunman/magic bullet theory). It is a tragedy of history for which we are all still paying in one way or another, and one which has thus far regrettably taken an unbelievable 34 years to ferret out (so much for the investigative fortitute of the major US news organizations). Were Kennedy and his crew "The best and the brightest"?. I don't think so anymore.
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The Dark Side of Camelot
The Dark Side of Camelot by Seymour Hersh (Paperback - 2 Feb 1998)
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