David Talbot’s book Brothers - The Hidden History of the Kennedy Brothers (Simon & Schuster, 2007) is one of the most important books on the assassination of President Kennedy to be published in a long time for a number of reasons.
Taking a unique look at the assassination from the perspective of his younger brother Robert F. Kennedy, the Attorney General, Talbert answers some of the perplexing questions about the assassination, including Robert Kennedy’s role with the anti-Castro Cuban operations, his response to his brother’s murder, and his desire to continue the backchannel peace initiatives that were squelched by LBJ and the CIA after the assassination.
Brothersis important, not only for answering some of the important questions about the assassination, but for detailing the inner-turmoil within the Kennedy administration, especially between the hawks and the doves, from the ill-fated Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis to the enforcement of civil rights laws in the South in the summer of ’63.
Talbert shows how the repercussions of these events led to a wedge being driven between Kennedy and his top aides and elements of the CIA, the military and anti-Castro Cubans, who were caught in the middle of changes in national policy that eventually resulted in the assassination of the President in Dallas.
Talbot explains the traditions, attitudes and beliefs of the Kennedy cabinet and the CIA officers, military brass and the anti-Castro Cuban commandos who were sent out to attack Castro and Cuba from American shores, and he shows how the Cubans, bent on killing Castro, were instead involved in the assassination of the President.
Talbot also clearly and distinctly answers those who maintain that President was killed by a lone gunman, by reframing the debate with the informed response that regardless of what you believe happened in Dallas, it was the result of a high-level government conspiracy.
Besides answering questions and setting the historical framework for the Dealey Plaza regime change, Talbot sets the stage for the next legal round in this seemingly endless epic – FOIA CIA court decisions and Congressional Hearings on the JFK Act.
Usually a book, when published, is about two years behind the current state of the research on the subject, but Talbot is on top of some of the latest developments, and he addresses some of them.
Talbot calls attention to Morley’s continuing efforts in court to obtain the release of George Joannide’s CIA files and other JM/WAVE records, still being withheld despite a Congressional order to release them [See: JFK Act of 1992].
One of the more serious complaints about Brothers (See: John Simpkin/Educational Forum/JFK Assassination Debate) is Talbot’s journalist reliance on interviews with living witnesses, rather than utilizing documentary support, as historians are inclined to do.
Though some of Talbot’s sources have since died (Schlesinger), requiring future journalists and historians to rely more on the written records, the documentary record actually supports the memories of Talbot’s sources, as the records released under the JFK Act attest. But the most important truth isn’t contained in the memories of the living witnesses or the millions of assassination records released under the JFK Act, it is among the government records still being withheld under the guise of national security.
If the assassination was the result of an attack by a "deranged lone-nut," as President Bush put it, then why are there any records still being with held for reasons of "national security" over 40 years after the crime?
If the lone nut advocates are wrong, and RFK, LBJ, Hover, Connolly and the other Washington insiders are correct in their suspicions that there were, as Talbot put it, "other forces at work in Dallas besides Oswald," then there is more at stake than just getting our history straight. The consequences are actually tremendous.
David Talbot’s book Brothers is important for a number of reasons, but most importantly for recognizing the continuing national security implications of the crime, and what’s really at stake – our very system of government, the function of the Constitution, and the future of the country, government and nation.
Our national security, the very reason given for continued secrecy, is at stake because it is no longer in our national interest to keep forty five year old government records secret.
It is imperative that we learn the total truth, not only to correct history or achieve justice, but to correct the system that allowed it to occur so it can not to happen again.
William Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org