Sons & Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy

Richard D. Mahoney, Author Arcade Publishing $27.95 (512p) ISBN 978-1-55970-480-9
Writing in a steady, almost relentlessly elegiac tone, Mahoney proves that the lives and deaths of John F. and Robert F. Kennedy remain as compelling now as they were throughout the turbulent 1960s. Mahoney, a former JFK scholar at the University of Massachusetts and at the Kennedy Library, examines how Jack and Bobby were shaped by their relationship as brothers and by the legacy of their father, Joe Kennedy. In 44 brief chapters, each a vignette chosen to illuminate how the brothers responded to events not as separate historical actors but as members of a family, Mahoney reveals the anger, even rage, that permeated the Kennedy years (exemplified by the implacable hatred between Bobby and the Mafia and between the Kennedys and Castro). The tumultuous events of the 1960s pass in review as Mahoney contrasts Jack as the cool ironist with Bobby as a vengeful authoritarian who grew, Mahoney contends, into a principled moral crusader. Although he asserts a second gunman took part in the JFK assassination, Mahoney doesn't identify him or definitively endorse any of the competing conspiracy theories. Ultimately, Mahoney offers a vivid fraternal portrait of Jack and Bobby Kennedy as co-participants in the crises of their times, setting in motion forces that would lead to their destruction. Mahoney is an excellent storyteller, but the drums of high drama rumble a bit too persistently through the book as he portrays the brothers as figures out of a Greek tragedy brought both high and low by the force of their character. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1999
Release date: 08/01/1999
Paperback - 441 pages - 978-1-55970-534-9
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