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After years of compelling new research, in 2007 Burton Hersh produced the long-awaited breakthrough book that sheds historic light on the complex relationship between Robert F. Kennedy, J. Edgar Hoover and the grand master of them both: Joe Kennedy. Told in intimate anecdotal detail, Bobby and J. Edgar is set against the ongoing context of Joe Kennedy’s behind-the-scenes manipulation of key players in Congress, organized crime, the Catholic Church, and his own overburdened family. The work then moves on to trace RFK and J. Edgar’s early years in politics through their parallel ascent to power and controversial deaths.
After a long career tracking the tumultuous career of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Hersh had emerged with deep scholarly understanding along with abiding personal contacts with many of the surviving figures in the Kennedy power structure. The Old Boys put Hersh in touch with key personalities all around the intelligence community. Old FBI hands especially like to joke about the sparks that flew when Bobby and J. Edgar collided.
As he began to work his way through thousands of heretofore classified Bureau files as well as masses of previously unreleased letters and documents in the Kennedy Library, the author began to realize there was an unsuspected level – without question, the key level – at which Joseph Kennedy operated for most of his life. All but the most deluded historians have long since admitted that the ascending financier may indeed have dabbled in a lot more than bootlegging; recently released FBI records and newly available sources now make it more than plain that Joe depended on gangland contacts throughout his tumultuous career. Out of these intense covert associations came private initiatives for which the country is still paying, from McCarthyism to the Bay of Pigs to the Vietnamese war. They would also contribute, directly and indirectly, to the assassinations of two of his sons.
Once Bob became attorney general, certain of the compounding contradictions began to play out into public policy. Before long the wily FBI director had both the Kennedy brothers under control, Bobby because of his implication in the death of Marilyn Monroe and JFK as a consequence of his affairs with syndicate moll Judith Campbell Exner and East German courtesan Ellen Rometsch.
Out of this tangle came an aborted invasion of Cuba, a misbegotten war in Vietnam, and the assassination of both JFK and RFK. In Bobby and J. Edgar, drawing on scholarly sources and mob sources and a wealth of unique, specialized interviews, Burton Hersh has surfaced the officially suppressed but operative facts behind the Kennedy assassination and the extent of the appalling government coverup. It provides a genuine glimpse at the true history of our time.