Interestingly, the term “Camelot” was never used by President Kennedy or his family. And according to Author M. Schlesinger, Jr., it was a term coined by the press to described the Kennedy legacy. The President’s death still remains one of the most shocking moments in U.S. history. Thousands of pages of documents relating to his administration and murder still remained classified as do numerous documents relating to the then Attorney General and President’s brother, Robert F. Kennedy. In recent years, more information about the inner workings of the Kennedy administration have come to light. And the number of books written by people who knew the President or are investigation his murder is nothing short of staggering. To my knowledge, there is no other President in history about which, so many books have been written. The prevailing image of JFK is that of a young President, murdered by a lone assassin, leaving two children and a grieving widow behind. However, the further we explore his murder, administration and personal life, the more we will come to realize that there was indeed a very dark side to Camelot.
Seymour M. Hersh, the famed investigative journalist, takes us deep inside the Kennedy family and their history in the politics of the nation. I forewarn the reader that the book isn’t pleasant. Hersh does not sugar coat anything and at times some of the things that are revealed are both shocking and disturbing. People with knowledge of the Kennedys and assassination researchers will know quite a bit of some of the things in the book. But for those who are learning these facts for the first time will find themselves in for a shock and a new understanding on how fractured the personal life of John F. Kennedy was. It’s often been said that Kennedy and his mother Rose had what would be considered a “cool” relationship. Often away during his childhood, his relationship with his mother quite possibly played a large part in his future relationships with his wife and the many affairs he had during his lifetime. Guided by an assertive and driven father who would not take losing at any cost, the young Senator and future President found himself in the biggest office in the land, inheriting the problems of the previous administration and a nation in the midst of political and social upheaval. But behind the scenes, the President was in a tumultuous marriage, strained by infidelity and the prying eyes of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Protected by his father Joe, Sr., and his younger brother Bobby, the young President was continually insulated from situations that could have severely damaged his reputation and possibly removed him from office.
In his defense, President Kennedy isn’t alive to defend himself and like all of us he had his faults. Had he lived, there’s a strong possibility that he may not have had a second term in office due to the many scandals brewing just beneath the surface and ready to explode at a moment’s notice. However, the facts remain that he did avert a nuclear war, put into motion several important laws and had begun to work on a plan for civil rights. And contrary to Hersh’s assertion that Kennedy alone was responsible for Vietnam, Kennedy did in fact have a plan for withdrawal that sadly, he wouldn’t live to fulfill. This book is a roller-coaster ride, full of all sorts of interesting pieces of information. All of the major players are here, and what results is a complicated web connecting Washington, the Italian-American mafia, call-girls, Cuban exiles, the military and the Central Intelligence Agency. Hersh did a incredible job researching this addicting and intriguing read.