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Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,889 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
For decades, books about President John F. Kennedy or his brother Robert Kennedy have woven either a tale of Camelot or a tawdry tale of ambition & reckless personal behavior. But the real story of the Kennedys in the 1960s has been submerged.

"Brothers" sheds light on the inner life of the Kennedy presidency & its aftermath. Talbot, founder of, has writt
Hardcover, 494 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by Free Press/Simon & Schuster (NYC) (first published January 1st 2007)
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Best Books About the Kennedy Family
6th out of 126 books — 93 voters
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20th out of 67 books — 25 voters

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Community Reviews

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Roger DeBlanck
Aug 10, 2015 Roger DeBlanck rated it it was amazing
Of the dozens of books I've read on the Kennedys, David Talbot's research stands out as most insightful and original in breaking new ground. He introduces unknown and, indeed, "hidden" information on the Kennedy brothers and the Kennedy presidency and administration. I learned of incidents that I had not found discussed in other resources. The history, which Talbot covers in gripping language and detail, truly captures the essence of secretive events. The accounts and encounters Talbot relays ar ...more
This book has 3 major sections. It begins with convincing analysis of the motivations of the Mafia, CIA and anti-Castro Cubans. The next part focuses on RFK, his response to his brother's assassination and his subsequent career. The last part describes and discusses the cover up. Talbot doesn't get into the theories of the bullets, the capture of Oswald, shady life of Ruby, etc. The author is not out to prove one theory or another.

The book shows RFK was successful in mafia prosecutions and was m
This is a well-documented, heavily researched book that looks into what the Kennedy Years were really like in this country between JFK's election to the Presidency in 1960 and the assassination of his brother, Robert Kennedy, in June 1968.

Though I was born several months after President Kennedy's assassination, I have had an interest in his life and political career since I was a child. And in subsequent years as my knowledge of President Kennedy's life and presidency has grown and deepened, I
Mar 05, 2013 Eric rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Aint no two, three of four ways about it.

The American military Industrial complex pumped bullets into President John F. Kennedy, splattering his brains all over his wife.

Then, when his brother Bobby( who wanted to be president in large part to find out who killed his brother) got close to winning, they killed him too.

Oh and they killed a few of Kennedy's girl friends along the way because they had too much influence on him.

This book is well researched, well written by a noted writer
Pete daPixie
Great book! If you are reading this review, and you have not read David Talbot's 'Brothers', then I strongly recommend that you get hold of a copy. It is of no consequence even if you are, like me, not American. This 'Hidden History of the Kennedy Years' is everyone's history, for every nationality, for every generation.

My own personal belief, that has grown stronger with the years is President John Kennedy saved my life.
As a snotty nosed English kid aged nine years old he was my hero after the
Sandra Cox
Jun 23, 2007 Sandra Cox rated it it was amazing
This book lets the reader know about the political climate of the 60s which forced the Kennedy brothers into decisions they didnt want to make and some that they did. They wanted the US to get past the Cold War fear that the military and CIA wanted us to feel. Lots of JFK's speeches leading up to VietNam are pertinent today. I only wish we were still trying to be a peaceful nation which is what Kennedy wanted more than anything else. Thats why he made such strides in getting along with Khruschev ...more
Erik Graff
Jul 22, 2015 Erik Graff rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Kennedy fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
This book is both a biography of the Kennedy brothers, John and Robert, from 1961 until 1968, and a review of their assassinations and the controversies surrounding them. Along the way the author, a believer in a conspiracy linking both murders, documents how RFK himself subscribed to such beliefs as regards the events of 22 November, 1963.

Author David Talbot is also a believer in the Kennedy brothers themselves. Although he deals briefly with the promiscuity of the elder, even mentioning rumors
May 21, 2016 Tom rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Beyond reading summaries and a few critiques of the Warren Commission report when it was first issued, I had never delved deeply into the speculation about who really killed John F. Kennedy, and, later, Robert F. Kennedy. David Talbot's wide-ranging book offers an insightful way to revisit and catch up on the awful events. He provides no conclusive answers but leans heavily toward a suspicion that the JFK plot involved either CIA agents, anti-Castro Cuban immigrants or the Mafia, or perhaps an ...more
Dec 02, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book quite a long time ago and it’s taken me a few years to read: discovering – after I took the book home – that the book dabbled with conspiracy theories about JFKs assassination in November 1963 did rather put me off for a long time. After all, conspiracy theories about the President’s murder always had something of the air of a media circus about them and my sense was that most serious people accepted that the crime was committed by the lost and erratic Lee Harvey Oswald.

Jan 17, 2014 Jww rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, biography
This book will convince most skeptical readers that there was a conspiracy behind the assassination of President Kennedy. Different readers might come to different conclusions about who was behind the assassination (other than Oswald), but the author lays out a complex web of things that are too many and too connected to be coincidence. Adding credence to the author's claims is the fact that reputable mainstream researchers have recently exposed the gaping holes and unexamined areas in the Warre ...more
B. Hallward
A fascinating book about the Kennedys that includes a hair-raising picture of the inner workings of the American government during the cold war, barely controlled generals pushing for nuclear war, a CIA answerable to no one. A great strength of this book is how it isn't framed as an argument for a particular conspiracy theory; instead it argues that the Warren report was an insulting failure to seriously investigate what happened, that the CIA lied to and successfully stonewalled generations of ...more
Jul 27, 2014 Caroline rated it it was amazing
This is a very very good book, insightful, thought-provoking, interesting and very moving. I found myself in tears at more than a few points. It's about Jack and Bobby Kennedy and their relationship throughout 'the Kennedy years'.

History seems to have sidelined Bobby and his murder over the years - the attention has always been on JFK and his assassination - but the way this book looked at Bobby broke my heart. Because Jack was his whole world, his primary focus - and when Jack was murdered Bobb
Othón León
Nov 11, 2012 Othón León rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
This book made go back to one of my favourite periods of US politics and characters as well. Very well written and very well researched in my opinion (not being an expert on the subject but having read many books on the matter I say that...). The book recounts the origins of the Kennedy family and the developments that took John to the White House and Robert to the State Department as well as the implications of them taking sides during those years in reference to diverse groups of power. Of cou ...more
Jun 07, 2008 Thomas rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
This is a unique look at the Kennedys from within the Kennedy camp. We witness the major events of our era through the eyes of Robert Kennedy and the close-knit "band of brothers."

While this book doesn't settle the issue of the John Kennedy Assassination, it establishes who the Kennedy clan and its allies felt was responsible. RFK firmly believed "they" killed his brother. Whatever the reader's opinion of the event, it is interesting to view RFK's life and career as products of that belief.

I was
Nov 15, 2009 Janet rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics
Begins on Nov 22nd with the compelling story of Bobby Kennedy on the day of his brother's death trying to find out more information about a possible conspiracy,making phone calls to the FBI,CIA,other officials.Even though well researched and documented,ultimately, I was disappointed with the book.the "usual suspects" take the blame for JFK's death.Was it the mafia?or the CIA? or possibly some anti-Catro exiles? the final answer is there is no defintive answer but lots of interesting speculation.
Kevin Shay
Feb 27, 2016 Kevin Shay rated it it was amazing
Like many, I thought I knew most of the details about this case. Talbot's book shows I did not and supplies some good insight, such as RFK's mostly private belief from the day he heard his brother was killed that there was a conspiracy. Publicly, RFK praised the Warren Commission and said he supported the conclusion of Oswald as the lone assassin and no conspiracy. I wasn't aware he was convinced privately of a conspiracy.
But if that was the case, why didn't RFK use his power as US AG to publicl
Jul 26, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it
Anyone interested in a well researched account of the Kennedy assassinations, the relationship between JFK and RFK, and the inner workings of our government should read this book. After reading it, I am convinced that that both JFK and RFK were extraordinary, though flawed men, whose murders were never truly solved.
Aug 04, 2012 buki rated it it was amazing
A great account of the relationship between RFK and JFK and the formidable role the former played in the Kennedy White House. The book is full of anecdotes and fabulously depicts the political climate of the 60s.
Heather Smith
Dec 27, 2015 Heather Smith rated it it was amazing
A fascinating look inside the Kennedy Administration, describing how the CIA tried without success to coerce Kennedy into becoming more hawkish toward Cuba during and after the Cuban Missile Crisis. The book is mostly about Robert Kennedy's odyssey after his brother's assassination. He was pressured to endorse the Warren Commission Report, although he always believed JFK was murdered in a conspiracy involving the CIA. He publicly kept quiet about his thoughts on his brother's assassination becau ...more
Ryan Phelps
Feb 09, 2015 Ryan Phelps rated it really liked it
I wanted to give this book 5 stars because Talbot did an excellent job presenting his research and clearly he is passionate about the Kennedy years. However, I was frustrated by the organization of the book; the chapters are even labeled "chronologically" but he constantly back peddles in time when bringing new players into the story. It gets a little confusing because there is so much overlap in the timeline. I think it would have had much more impact if he spent an early chapter introducing al ...more
Kathleen Hagen
Brothers: The Secret History of the Kennedy Years, by David Talbot, Narrated by Mel Foster, Produced by Brilliance Audio, downloaded from

This book focuses totally on the relationship between Jack and Bobby Kennedy, and what can be deduced or known about the reasons either or both of them were assassinated. We see the tensions building in the Kennedy administration as both Kennedys try to head off the cold war, blockading Cuba instead of “frying” her as hard-line cold war folks wante
Aug 09, 2008 Rick rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I didn’t pay attention to the sub-title. Hidden histories are almost always conspiracy books written by folks who can’t let go of something dear to them, whether it’s the thought that Elvis can’t really be dead or that only a Conspiracy—large C—directly involving the highest reaches of American power could be responsible for a Kennedy's murder. I’m talking CIA. I’m talking FBI. I’m talking the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I’m talking Right Wing Men of Privilege and Wealth, I’m talking the Mafia. I’m t ...more
Dec 04, 2011 Rae rated it liked it
A somewhat dry and detailed account of JFK's administration and the aftermath of his assassination--mostly as seen through Robert's eyes. If I don't think about what happened to these two men, then I am satisfied with the politically correct explanations. When I think about what happened, however, I come to the conclusion that we don't have all the answers and that something definitely hinky took place!

From the last chapter: In recent years, the Kennedy legacy has been clouded by a spate of book
Apr 09, 2008 Randy rated it it was amazing
Fascinating stuff. I've read much about JFK and his assassination, this is the first I've read that went into some depth about RFK , his life and assassination. The author was a sympathetic biographer and had access to sources not quoted in other books. It gave a good inside view of John and Bobby's relationships with each other and the world. I was extremely surprised to learn that the official report on the RFK assassination was as flawed and disputed as the JFK event. Specifically, there were ...more
May 03, 2008 Nathan rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Gerald Posner's PA.
David Talbot's 'Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years' is a study of the relationship between John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert. Specifically, the book focuses on Robert Kennedy's apparently firm belief that his brother was killed as a result of a conspiracy, most likely as direct blowback from the CIA's attempts on Fidel Castro's life. Talbot unearths countless references to both RFK and his aids that suggest RFK was almost fully convinced of a plot. The book also details RFK's ...more
Josh Hale
Sep 10, 2015 Josh Hale rated it it was amazing
Whether you are an avid researcher of the Kennedy assassination or are just curious, this book should be part of your shelf collection.

Talbot does his research, painting a detailed picture on the JFK assassination, as he tries to answer the "who" question. He also shows how his younger brother, RFK, made it his mission to determine who his brother's assassins were and how he could bring them to justice. A pursuit that would eventually lead him to a fate like his brothers'.
Adrienne LaCava
Oct 02, 2014 Adrienne LaCava rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sixties-research
BROTHERS is now one of my favorite history books of the 1960s. It took me a while to finish, but the subjects are fascinating, and Talbot goes deep. The commitment of service this family embraced made me long to see that kind of inspirational challenge to youth in America today. Readers get behind-the-curtain peeks at Jack and Bobby's relationships, battles, blunders and wins. Plenty of juice. But you also get insightful and thoughtful commentary, and interesting backstory of various players. I ...more
Apr 03, 2010 Nida rated it it was amazing
Read this for my JFK class I took in the fall (I miss college!). A moving book, tells you what happened behind the scenes with the Kennedy administration, the assassinations, and the strong bond between the two brothers. The brothers are remembered in history as remaining firm to their ideals and working as a team at a time where the dark forces within the government (CIA, Joint Chiefs, FBI) and their hawkish world views ruled the country.

This book really made me fall in love with Bobby Kennedy
Diane Heath
I think those who are interested in the idea of a Kennedy conspiracy surrounding the deaths of Jack and Bobby Kennedy would like this book very much. It sometimes had too much of a textbook quality. It states that Robert Kennedy believed a conspiracy was behind the death of his brother. Previous books have stated that Ted Kennedy and JFK Jr also believed in a conspiracy. The book was good and reiterated the description of Robert as a scrapper in his youth.
Nov 13, 2015 Nicolas rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book wasn't what I expected it to be... and it took me a long time to figure that out. From what I read of this title before buying it, I assumed it was an account of the JFK assassination through the eyes of Bobby Kennedy. Instead it was basically just a retelling of the Kennedy years. It was well-written and enjoyable, it just wasn't what I was looking for. One of the big questions the book asked was, "Why didn't RFK uses his position and power to solve the JFK assassination?" Instead of ...more
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Brothers 2 19 Oct 18, 2012 08:29PM  
  • Robert Kennedy: His Life
  • Robert Kennedy and His Times
  • The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings: A Five-Generation History of the Ultimate Irish-Catholic Family
  • President Kennedy: Profile of Power
  • Sons & Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy
  • The Kennedy Men: 1901-1963
  • The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America
  • JFK: Reckless Youth
  • Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House
  • Kennedy
  • Kennedy and Nixon: The Rivalry That Shaped Postwar America
  • Jack: A Life Like No Other
  • JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters
  • Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • The Dark Side of Camelot
  • All Too Human the Love Story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy
  • After Camelot: A Personal History of the Kennedy Family--1968 to the Present
  • The Death of a President: November 1963

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“After a long discussion of the country's woes, the interviewer asked Bobby, "But you are an optimist?" Kennedy nodded and smiled his weary-eyed smile. "Just because you can't live any other way, can you?" he replied.” 1 likes
“Robert Kennedy was inspired to take on organized crime by watching the landmark movie On the Waterfront.” 0 likes
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