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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brothers by David Talbot
I actually wasn't expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. "Brothers" falls more into the category of "why-dunnit" than "who" and I usually find such works a little tedious and long-winded. However, Talbot rarely over-emphasises a point and weaves many fascinating and engaging tales into his narrative. That said, there are some important points , such as the issue...
Published on 20 Sept. 2007 by Martin Hay

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but dry
I've really tried very hard to enjoy BROTHERS but it's been a long hard road getting to the end of a complex and thorough piece of research and at times I nearly gave up on it. It's not that it's not a good book, but I found certain sections - especially the Kennedy White House years - especially dry.

The story it tells, however, is a fascinating one, and the...
Published on 24 Jun. 2009 by Emanon


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brothers by David Talbot, 20 Sept. 2007
I actually wasn't expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. "Brothers" falls more into the category of "why-dunnit" than "who" and I usually find such works a little tedious and long-winded. However, Talbot rarely over-emphasises a point and weaves many fascinating and engaging tales into his narrative. That said, there are some important points , such as the issue of Secret Service protection, that were only touched upon and could have been explored at least a little.

As Jim DiEugenio has pointed out, Talbot's take on the Kennedy saga has altered drastically over the last decade or so. Way back in 1992, he wrote an artice on the movie JFK, in which he criticised Oliver Stone's theory that Kennedy was fighting a government opposed to peace and social justice and that this led directly to his assassination. In "Brothers," Talbot has made a 180 degree turn and now presents much evidence supporting Stone's controversial view. In my opinion, this speaks volumes about the integrity of the author. Unlike the majority of Kennedy researchers, talbot is clearly more than ready to go where the evidence leads him.

Nonetheless, there are a few problems with "Brothers," the biggest of which is his treatment of the Jim Garrison investigation. Although it appears that Talbot is trying to take an objective stance, he ends up whitewashing the appalling behaviour of Walter Sheridan and doesn't acknowledge the government coordinated campaign to de-rail Garrison's probe. The New Orleans evidence is key to the conspiracy to kill Kennedy and the attack on Garrison deserves a more accurate treatment.

All in all, an enjoyable read that has inspired me to look into the RFK murder - something I had vowed not to do after spending so many years on JFK! Buy it, but buy Bill Davy's "Let Justice Be Done" too to fill you in on the details of the Garrison case.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but dry, 24 Jun. 2009
I've really tried very hard to enjoy BROTHERS but it's been a long hard road getting to the end of a complex and thorough piece of research and at times I nearly gave up on it. It's not that it's not a good book, but I found certain sections - especially the Kennedy White House years - especially dry.

The story it tells, however, is a fascinating one, and the dark corners of the Cold War are peered into meticulously. A large assortment of shady and shifty characters emerge from the gloom and the world they inhabited is revealed as being, quite frankly, terrifying. We are told, in very frank and uncompromising terms, the story of the John F Kennedy White House and the internal battles going on between the Hawks and the Doves during the early part of the cold war, and in many ways makes you feel very grateful that the man in the White House at that time was the man with the strength of character and self belief he had, because with anyone else in charge you get the impression that we may all really have been blown to kingdom come.

After the events of Dallas in November 1963, the story shifts focus onto the story of Robert Kennedy's last few years of life and his reluctance to address the subject of the investigation into his brother's death and his eventual fateful decision to run for the highest office in the land which ended with the tragedy at the Ambassador Hotel in 1968.

I'm not sure, in the end, that this book is the one it claimed it was going to be. Certainly, whilst it opens with the idea that Bobby was haunted and obsessed by the assassination, mostly it seems to imply that he was going to investigate it further after winning the White House which of course he never did. The rest is conjecture and speculation, and whilst it is a fascinating account into the tragic circumstances surrounding the lives and deaths of the two brothers, I'm not sure that the lasting impression the book leaves me with is of the brothers themselves. Instead there is an unsettling sense of the evil that faceless men do in the dark shadows in the name of democracy and freedom and how difficult it is to stop them from engaging in their wickedness when they have committed to their course of action.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Problems with the CIA, FBI, and Military . . . and a Call for an Unlimited Inquiry into the JFK Assassination, 4 Jun. 2007
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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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.

5. JFK planned to withdraw from Vietnam after the 1964 election.

6. RFK began his own private investigation of JFK's assassination and concluded that he needed to dismantle the CIA if elected in 1968.

7. Those who were in the best position to judge in Dallas thought that there was more than one gunman.

8. Some of those with RFK in Los Angeles thought that there was more than one gunman there.

9. A group of CIA dirty tricksters were present in both Dallas and Los Angeles when the assassinations occurred. You are left to draw the inference that the CIA assassinated JFK and RFK, but there's no direct evidence to sustain the point.

I found that the book tended to try to cover too much ground. As a result, any particular set of evidence was covered quite quickly. In light of the many books that have been written on these subjects, it would have been useful to address those books and try to straighten out incorrect viewpoints from at least the most influential of those books. For example, the cases for and against multiple gunmen in Dallas and Los Angeles receive relatively little attention, even though much has been written on this subject.

Ultimately, the book raises a fundamental point: We have experienced some national tragedies beginning in 1963 which include these assassinations, the Vietnam War, and the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Isn't it time that we made it a priority to understand what happened and what went wrong, so we can avoid repeating the mistakes? If we let sleeping dogs lie, they may awake and bite us again.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A big subject in the hands of a fine writer - extremely enjoyable to read., 28 Feb. 2008
By 
Philip Mayo - See all my reviews
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I am one of those who can remember exactly where I was on the 22nd of November, 1963, when President John F Kennedy was assassinated. I was in the study hall, in school. Contrary to all normal practice, the black and white TV at the top of the hall, which was normally confined to limited weekend use, was switched on, and we students, in stunned silence, watched the news. Many of us felt that we had lost someone very close to us; very important to us. I was 15 years old and had a reverence for JFK that was quite common at that time throughout all age groups and throughout much of the world.

As the years passed the Kennedy era as a legend was attacked and effectively dismantled. I remember reflecting, many years later, on how naïve I had then been to hold any politician, indeed any person, in such high regard. I put it down to immaturity but nevertheless felt a sense of loss that was hard to explain and impossibly un-cool to talk about. More recently I have found myself sometimes arguing against the fashionable view that the Kennedys were ineffective and morally corrupt. Richard Revees' 1994 book "President Kennedy - Profile of Power" reviews the 1000 day presidential reign in fine and objective style. More recently I read Seymour Hersh's 1997 book "The Dark Side of Camelot" which is a withering attack on everything to do with the Kennedy clan, and left me amazed at the intensity of his condemnations and of his determination to interpret all actions and motives of both John and Robert Kennedy in the darkest of terms. So, I must admit that it was with a growing sense of relief that I read Davis Talbot's wonderful book "Brothers", which deals comprehensively and objectively with the Kennedys political lives and deaths, and leans very much towards the conclusion that while these men were no saints, that saints are rarely candidates for high political office, and that, on balance, the loss to murder of these men was the wider world's loss also. The reader is given much background and reports from the most recently released documentation to allow him or her to arrive at their own opinion. The content is always interesting and in the hands of an obviously talented writer, is never dull or boring.

In one passage Mr Talbot relates that at the convention in August 1964 - which gathered to endorse the incumbent Lyndon Johnson - Robert Kennedy made a speech to a Democratic Party which was still highly emotionally charged with the loss, less than a year previously, of JFK in Dallas. Bobby Kennedy himself was still virtually immobilized with grief. When he came to the podium he was greeted with a massive ovation which lasted for 22 minutes. His speech was about his fallen brother, and ended with a quote from Shakespeare, from Romeo and Juliet:

"When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he shall make the face of heaven so fine,
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun".

Apparently the Johnson camp took exception to a perceived unkind reference to the plain-talkin' Texan as being the "garish sun"; others received the speech and the quote as the tribute to their lost leader that it actually was. At this stage many, many hard-nosed conventioneers were in tears. We are told that when the speech ended that Bobby Kennedy made his way to a nearby fire escape where he sat sobbing for fifteen minutes. I personally, in the reading of this passage of this always absorbing book, felt much the same way.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, Unbelievable, Amazing, Inspiring, 28 Aug. 2009
By 
E. Sharman (Warwickshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a fantastic read - written in an easy and informative style.

Like most people I knew the basics about the assassinations before I read this, but the truth behind the story is startling.

I came away thinking that had they both lived it would have been an absolute miracle! The vested interest groups aligned against them were powerful in the extreme. The hostility of the military was shocking - with the Joint Chiefs pretty much wanting to start WW3 to put the communists in their place. The CIA and FBI were virtually uncontrollable, set their own agenda (including assassinations) and colluded with the Mafia. The Mafia themselves hated the Kennedys for the way they (especially Bobby) went after them - as well as the powerful and corrupt unions (who seemed to be Mafia controlled). The Cuban exiles loathed JFK for the way he handled the Bay of Pigs (calling off air support when it was clear it was a doomed mission). The segregationists in the deep south despised the Kennedys for their support for equality.

And yet the brothers stuck to their missions with scant regard for their personal safety. They were desperately fighting what they saw as an amalgamation of the military, politicians, business and organised crime. No wonder they were disposed of.

It is incredibly sad to think that three outstanding leaders (JFK, RFK and Martin Luther King) were removed from the world stage when there was so much to do.

The book is presented as a time line - and the sections on that fateful day in Dallas were riveting - even when you know the outcome (I didn't know, for example, that the route was known to be unsafe, Dallas was hostile to the Kennedys, and that the secret service suddenly backed away in the moments leading up to the shooting). It is a mixture of 'whodunnit', political thriller, historical diary and social study. A well balanced and expertly crafted mixture.

The author delves into the characters of all the participants as much as is necessary and relevant, and I had the distinct feeling all the way through of good versus evil. David Talbot manages to evoke the sense of the time - the hopes and fears, the passion of the people, the enmities and the sinister manoeuvring of organisations who were supposed to be much better than they were.

It is clear from reading this book that the US at that time was rotten to the core - I sincerely hope things are better today!

I enjoyed the book tremendously and recommend it very highly to anyone who wants to know more about the period, the assassinations, the Kennedy mentality, American society and just how rotten and corrupt powerful people and groups can become.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Problems with the CIA, FBI, and Military . . . and a Call for an Unlimited Inquiry into the JFK Assassination, 4 Jun. 2007
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
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.

5. JFK planned to withdraw from Vietnam after the 1964 election.

6. RFK began his own private investigation of JFK's assassination and concluded that he needed to dismantle the CIA if elected in 1968.

7. Those who were in the best position to judge in Dallas thought that there was more than one gunman.

8. Some of those with RFK in Los Angeles thought that there was more than one gunman there.

9. A group of CIA dirty tricksters were present in both Dallas and Los Angeles when the assassinations occurred. You are left to draw the inference that the CIA assassinated JFK and RFK, but there's no direct evidence to sustain the point.

I found that the book tended to try to cover too much ground. As a result, any particular set of evidence was covered quite quickly. In light of the many books that have been written on these subjects, it would have been useful to address those books and try to straighten out incorrect viewpoints from at least the most influential of those books. For example, the cases for and against multiple gunmen in Dallas and Los Angeles receive relatively little attention, even though much has been written on this subject.

Ultimately, the book raises a fundamental point: We have experienced some national tragedies beginning in 1963 which include these assassinations, the Vietnam War, and the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Isn't it time that we made it a priority to understand what happened and what went wrong, so we can avoid repeating the mistakes? If we let sleeping dogs lie, they may awake and bite us again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost conspiracy history, 15 July 2009
By 
Thomas Vieth (London) - See all my reviews
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Although a bit dense in the conspiracy-theory department, this is still a great read. In my mind Talbot over-dramatises the extent to which the Kennedy brothers were 'at war' with the CIA, the military and the Mafia. It is of course true that the Kennedy brothers were the ones who kept things from boiling over during the Bay of Pigs Crisis and the Cuba Crisis, standing firm against the more bellicose military commanders. It is true that RFK had railed against the Mafia for years. And of course it is true that the Kennedy brothers had a difficult relationship with the CIA, particularly in regards to Cuba. But to make the leap from friction within government agencies and difference of opinion to an assassination plot is an embellishment. Talbot is sober enough not to make that mistake, but he certainly points in that direction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading on JFK and RFK, 3 Nov. 2009
By 
David Talbot has penned a masterful piece of journalistic and historical writing in his book 'Brothers.' The depth of his research is clear for all to see and sheds a new light on the struggles which President Kennedy endured from many wihtin his own administration who were resistent to his attempts at change. As a result he shows that the assassination of the President could not conceivably have been the work of Lee Harvey Oswald alone. His portrayal of Robert Kennedy both during and after his brothers death is fascinating...how unfortunate that he to would end up like his brother. An essential book for anyone interested in unravelling the Kennedy years and what really happened in Dallas on the 22nd November 1963.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real gem in the JFK genre, extremely well put together using eye witness testimony and released documents., 15 Sept. 2011
By 
Astore Stargazer (Lancashire) - See all my reviews
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As far as JFK books go Brothers really does get its teeth into the forces that were opposed to the Kennedy administration and lays down the evidence of the opposing forces with documents,facts and witness testimony. I really thought this book was excellent because it relies less on theory and more on actual eye wtiness testimony, people that were there and people who lived through it. I don't agree with all David Talbots outcomes mind you as my own research and facts have also brought LBJ into the equation as a possible instigator of the plot, however David Talbot is reluctant to do so which is fair enough but that aside this book really stands out from the rest in the JFK genre.

I enjoyed this book so much that I am currently reading it for a second time in a matter of months because I believe this book can go down as an historical record of the Kennedy years. What David does so well is to open up the tensions of the cold war and the civil rights issues as well as bring to light the hard nosed military commanders that vehemently opposed the Kennedy administration.

If your looking for a book that not just sheds light on the forces opposed to JFK and RFK and you want to know more about the years they were in Power then look no further because David Talbot has done a splendid job of bringing it all together in one book and as far as I am concerned has the last word on any lone gunman theory.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, 26 Feb. 2010
"If a president can be shot down with impunity at high noon in the sunny streets of an American city, then any kind of deceit is possible" and "We live in a dark age of clashing fundamentalisms. The country is ruled by an administration that has made a cult of secrecy and obedience. We are caught up in another endless war, this time on "terror" or perhaps it's a struggle with fear itself" are two of the most compelling and representative quotes in D. Talbot's recount -and interpretation- of what started back in November '63.

Within minutes of hearing of President John F. Kennedy's murder, Bobby Kennedy was making calls, looking for answers to how his brother had died. "There's so much bitterness," he told a colleague that day. "I thought they would get one of us." But who were "they"? Robert Kennedy gravitated immediately to a shadowy nexus of forces he believed were at odds with the policies of his brother's administration...

"Brothers" is a wonderful, passionate, often angry book that both summarizes much of the vast conspiracy literature and attempts to add new evidence that Talbot himself amassed through dogged interviews with many people connected -- directly or indirectly -- with the Kennedy years.

Also, a wonderful story of how the Kennedy brothers -really- tried to change the world.
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