The Kennedy Brothers

Subtitle:  The Rise and Fall of Jack and Bobby

ISBN 978-1-61145-048–4 (pbj)

A Nonfiction book Published by Arcade Publishing, a registered trademark of Skyhorse Publishing Inc, a Delaware Corporation Arcade of New York, Copyright 1999 & 2011, 491 pages

DEALING WITH THE DEVIL Review by Carolyn Leonard

This book was painful for me to read. It shows all too clearly how the American presidency was being run by organized crime, at least in the 1960s.  The facts make it difficult to believe our political system enables good people to rise to power and act on behalf of those who elect them. Written by a Kennedy insider, it is an eye-opener – especially the way the facts showed the two brothers interacted, supporting and encouraging, bouncing ideas off each other. The author implies that the mob was likely the main culprit for the deaths of both Jack and Bobby.

Joe Kennedy, Sr, worked hand and glove with known mobsters in amassing his bootlegging fortune during Prohibition and used those long term connections to ensure his sons political careers.

Jimmy Hoffa, VP of the Teamster’s Union, five feet five inches tall and cruel as a titan.  He regarded politics as war by other means, ordering up violence against opponents the way a lawyer might file a motion in court.

Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, House Speaker O’Neill described how one of Joe Kennedy’s real estate partners said, “I love this young Kennedy boy. He can help the nation, by God. He’s got the feeling for it. Here’s $3,000 or $5,000. You carry your county for him and I’ll give you a little reward on my way back.”

Bobby Kennedy: Painted as a reformer, dedicated, religious, and practically worshipful of his brother with a fierce sense of loyalty. He was full of ideas but ran into a wall of reality limiting the power of the president and his men.  What was hardest for me was how Bobby dealt with the mob. He wanted to destroy them one moment and made deals with them the next. He wanted to fix the Civil Rights inequities inspite of being prejudiced himself.

JFK:  For a forty-three-year-old who spent most of his adult life in a state of pain, Kennedy seemed unusually fit. For instance, … As Jack stood … to accept his party’s nomination … few knew he had just received a heavy booster shot of novocaine in his lower back and was wearing an aluminum back brace.

Frank Sinatra: “The thing that didn’t change for the skinny son of immigrants with pop-out ears and pool-water-blue eyes was that he continued to be the mob’s best man in Hollywood and Las Vegas. He loaned glamour and legitimacy as well as access to the loftiest places in the entertainment industry,”

The Mafia:  The CIA’S Jim O’Connell arrived in Miami to work out the assassination plot against Castro, meeting with Rosselli and Maheu. …..They agreed the hit would be something “nice and clean,” not the gangland-style ambush the CIA originally wanted. Poison was the preferred means.

Herbert Hoover:  The President was confronted with the fact that Hoover not only knew the full extent of JFK’s philandering, the full extent of his extramarital liaison with Judith Campbell Exner and also her concurrent relationship with Rosselli and Giancanna, but also Hoover documented it and blackmailed Jack. Hoover was strongly opposed to revealing FBI sources and was himself compromised by the mob.

The Mafia: After the assassination of JFK, an informant for the FBI revealed there was a Mafia contract of several hundred thousand dollars to assassinate Bobby Kennedy.  

I recommend this book to any students of social studies or politics.