SONS OF CAMELOT: The Fate of an American Dynasty

Laurence Leamer, Author . Morrow $27.95 (638p) ISBN 978-0-06-620965-4

Picking up where his previous two bestsellers about the Kennedys left off, Leamer traces the clan's supposed downward spiral in the 40 years since John F. Kennedy's assassination. Early chapters concentrate on JFK's surviving brothers, but after Bobby's death and Ted's drive off the bridge at Chappaquiddick, the book eagerly delves into the sordid stories of the next generation. The title describes the book's focus exactly; though readers slog through detailed accounts of Robert Jr.'s environmental activism, no mention is made, for instance, of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg's legal scholarship (and there will apparently be no Daughters of Camelot ). The women's absence leaves more room to describe how messed up the men were. Leamer dwells endlessly on addiction and self-destructive behavior, invoking sometimes dubious psychological theories about generational dynamics and genetic predispositions (does it matter if the Kennedys carry D4Dr, the "novelty-seeking" gene?). As one might expect, John Jr. disproportionately dominates the second half of the story. The tale, touching glancingly on matters covered in Edward Klein's recent exposé, is buttressed by interviews with several close friends who have never spoken about John Jr. for attribution before, though one wonders if even they could have the embarrassingly intimate familiarity with his sex life that Leamer professes. The prose is workmanlike, with occasional slips into mawkishness, but nobody will read this book for its style, and Leamer has wisely loaded it with more than enough scandal to satisfy audience expectations. 32 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW . Agent, Joy Harris. 150,000 first printing. (Mar. 16)

Reviewed on: 02/23/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 656 pages - 978-0-06-203806-7
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Paperback - 638 pages - 978-0-06-055902-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-081368-0
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