The Dark Side of Camelot

The Dark Side of Camelot

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by Seymour M. Hersh

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This monumental work of investigative journalism reveals the Kennedy White House as never before. With its meticulously documented & compulsively readable portrait of John F. Kennedy as a man whose reckless personal behavior imperiled his presidency, The Dark Side of Camelot sparked a firestorm of controversy upon its initial publication - becoming a runaway


This monumental work of investigative journalism reveals the Kennedy White House as never before. With its meticulously documented & compulsively readable portrait of John F. Kennedy as a man whose reckless personal behavior imperiled his presidency, The Dark Side of Camelot sparked a firestorm of controversy upon its initial publication - becoming a runaway bestseller & one of the year's most talked-about books. Now in paperback, this watershed work will continue to provoke public discussion as the debate intensifies over what constitutes proper personal & political behavior on the part of our nation's leaders.

Editorial Reviews

Steve Weinberg
Hersh's relentless reporting led to a high level of factual accuracy in some of the book's high-risk segments, and for me, that level of accuracy provided confidence in the book's larger judgments.
Columbia Journalism Review
Gore Vidal
Hersh is an old-style muckraker. The fact that he's found more muck in this particular Augean stable than most people want to acknowledge is hardly his fault. -- The New Yorker

Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
Edition description:
Paperback Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
13 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Dark Side of Camelot

By Seymour M. Hersh

Back Bay Books

ISBN: 0-316-36067-8

Chapter One

Author's Note

This is not a book about John Kennedy's brilliant moments, and his brilliant policies. Nor is it a book about the awful moment of his death and why he was shot.

John Kennedy's policies and his life contained many superb moments. After his death, his glamour and wit combined with his successes in foreign affairs and domestic policies-real and imagined-to create the myth of Camelot. But there was a dark side to Camelot, and to John Kennedy.

I began writing this book knowing that it would inevitably move into a sensitive area: When is it relevant to report on the private life of a public man? The central finding that emerged from five years of reporting, and more than a thousand interviews with people who knew and worked with John F. Kennedy, is that Kennedy's private life and personal obsessions-his character-affected the affairs of the nation and its foreign policy far more than has ever been known.

This is a book about a man whose personal weaknesses limited his ability to carry out his duties as president. It is also a book about the power of beauty. It tells of otherwise strong and self-reliant men and women who were awed and seduced by Kennedy's magnetism, and who competed with one another to please the most charismatic leader in our nation's history. Many are still blinded today.

In writing this book, my hope is that I have been able to help the nation reclaim some of its history.

Seymour M. Hersh October 1997


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Dark Side of Camelot 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book provides a critical look at John F. Kennedy, the Kennedy clan, and the camp followers who were willing to do anything that was asked of them either out fear of rejection by the man they followed blindly, or of reprisal. It is to the point and strips away the myth of the man, those that surrounded him. Not surprisingly, his wife emerges as the one decent individual who fulfilled her role with dignity. Kennedy and CIA involvement with the criminal underworld is revealed and provides a good backdrop to The History Channel¿s November 2003 Documentaries on the assassination of Kennedy. As such, it seems to support some of the theories advanced by the documentaries. The real story behind Kennedy¿s handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis reveals a far different story than that promoted by Kennedy lovers and is especially revealing when considering who really did drag the US to the brink of war. Was it really Khrushchev? Or JFK? Did the Russians really blink, or did JFK beg Khrushchev for a way out. You get to decide. Hersh¿s account reveals a seat of the pants mode of operation in which Robert Kennedy is continually engaged in damage control from the start of the presidency. John Kennedy¿s personal weaknesses, inability to learn from mistakes, and refusal to accept responsibility for his own shortcomings, point to a presidency on route to destruction from the start.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hersh has done an excellent job in stripping away the mythology surrounding the Kennedy administration and writing a good historically objective account of the man and his presidency.
Kevin79 More than 1 year ago
This was a difficult read for someone from Massachusetts who grew up hearing the worship of the Kennedy brothers and the story of "Camelot." Well written eye opener that I recommend to everyone, "friend and foe alike"
TBWallace More than 1 year ago
I am currently in master's classes and try to avoid reading for entertainment at this time. I have read a few other books about Kennedy's and found this book full of information details that were probably unailable over the past 50 years about the political process and how the Kennedys actually stacked the deck. How power in American really works. I don't take everything in the book for absolute truth, but it makes clear how American politics have changed. JFK was probably the last president where the system was willing to hide their glarring flaws and tolerate the idea of democracy for democracy sake. A real page turner. I finsihed half the book in one day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Much of the info in this book comes across as soft. Much may be true, but it doesn't feel like a well-researched book,notwithstanding the credentials of the author. Some things however i find quite believable if not fully proven, like the threat or perhaps even reality of Kennedy clout being used to place a potential threat in a mental hospital. If you really study the Kennedy family, it does not seem like a family at all, rather more of a managed entity, where different Kennedys represent different special interest groups under one organizational structure termed the ' Kennedy family'. The Kennedy family seems more a political body than a true family despite the surface veneer.I would read this book skeptically.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Seymore Hersh is a legend in the investigative reporting field. In this book Hersh tries to desiminate information currently released from the closed file of the currently viewable Kennedy Library. In between the now semi-public files of Kennedy's adminstration, Hersh fills in the gaps and provides excellant credibility with his relentless testimony of the most credible witneses, I.E. Kennedy's secret service agents, Members of staff, retired politicians, and so on. Hersh leads the reader through Joe Kennedy's ruthless abadonment at getting his son elected at any cost, John's personal life during his administration, and the death and resulting fallout that ensued. If it were any other author, I too would be a skeptic. However, Hersh has been to reliable an author to not sit up and pay attention. Though the reader might feel uncomfortable with some of the incidents that are revealed, feel good in the fact that what you are reading is the result of an honest, hardworking, pulitzer prise winning author. Hersh in my opinion is a modern day historian.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved it! It dispelled some of the aura of royalty that had enveloped the Kennedy family for so long.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Born almost 2 decades after JFK was killed, I am still quite intrigued by the entire Kennedy family. This book covers any questions you may have had about them, and many more you would never have thought to ask. Simply fantabulous!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DeValera More than 1 year ago
Filled with half truths and outright slander...the product of a maligent mind. See CSPAN evaluations by the top 50 Presidential Historians J.F.K. rated 6th best. Quite a feat for a man who was only in office for two years and 10 months. Mr Hersch is a sad creature filled with irrational hate that produced a false poison pen. Like the historian/writer John Toland, in his vicious false attacks on F.D.R., Hersch has revealed the dark soul of a corrupt revisionist.