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Bobby and J. Edgar

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About the Author

Burton Hersh has chronicled the Kennedy family for over thirty-five years. He is the author of numerous books, including the controversial and acclaimed The Old Boys: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA and The Education of Edward Kennedy. He divides his time between New Hampshire and Florida.


Historian and journalist Hersh (The Old Boys) might well have titled his excellent book "Collision Course," for that is exactly what J. Edgar Hoover and the Kennedys were on from as early as the 1930s. The many tensions between Bobby (as both attorney general and senator) and the power-hungry FBI director are well known. What Hersh brings to the party is important new research and intensive analysis revealing the complex background attendant to the confrontations of the 1960s. The third party to RFK's and Hoover's sparring was Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., whose long history of professional affiliations with such gangsters as Johnny Rosselli, and amorous flirtations with the likes of Gloria Swanson, swelled one of Hoover's secret files and (like JFK's peccadilloes) did much to complicate dealings with "the Director." Joe's past still overshadowed everything when in December 1961 the father was incapacitated by a stroke, leaving his boys to deal with an FBI head who secretly despised not only the father but his brood. On this stage, in a drama populated by such fascinating and contradictory characters as Roy Cohn, Martin Luther King Jr., Jimmy Hoffa and mob boss Carlos Marcello, Hersh reveals the ways of power, deceit and survival-of-the-fittest in Kennedy-era D.C. (June 1) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"Very important history and wonderful reading." -- Arthur Schlesinger Jr. "Burton Hersh has found the perfect subject for his splendid gifts as masterful writer, brilliant thinker, and fine historian." -- Doris Kearns Goodwin "Burton Hersh has brought to life the dark and secret world of American intelligence in its formulative years. It is breathtaking comprehensive piece of research and a miracle of lucid writing.... the ultimate study of the men who laid the foundation for the American intelligence community." -- Daniel Schorr

The visible feud between RFK and President Johnson meant that there was less focus on the bad blood between RFK and J. Edgar Hoover. Longtime Kennedy watcher Hersh (The Old Boys: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA) offers an exhaustive-and at times exhausting-rendition of the latter conflict. Here, we see a ruthless RFK in pursuit of organized crime, as long as the investigations did not reveal ties between the mob and his father, Joseph Kennedy. However, also revealed is the RFK who pursued an end to the Vietnam War, promoted civil rights legislation, and left a legacy of important anticrime legislation. J. Edgar Hoover is depicted as an eccentric autocrat who believed the Left was destroying America and would do anything to bring down its leaders, especially Martin Luther King. Yet the reader is also shown a Hoover who stood up to Nixon's scheme to short-circuit the legal system and who, as charged by LBJ, used the FBI to defeat the 1960s Ku Klux Klan. Although the narrative is slowed by Hersh's inclusion of so many stories, it does keep the reader engrossed. Recommended for all public libraries.-Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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