Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Talbot's BROTHERS Reminiscent of Shakespeare: A Homework Assignment in Book Reviews
David Talbot's meticulously written novel, BROTHERS: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years reads more like a classic Shakespearian dramas opposed to an extensive collection of carefully researched history-though it is also that as well as a brilliantly compiled portrait of John and Robert Kennedy and the Band of Brothers they surrounded themselves with. Talbot's BROTHERS opens with Bobby Kennedy's reaction to receiving the news that his beloved older brother had been gunned down in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. From the start, the readers are brought into the Kennedy family and experience the highly controversial piece of history with a fresh perspective. Retelling the years between 1968-1974 in the context of family gives BROTHERS the page-turner effect of a well told melodrama with all the suspense of a mystery novel and all the complex characters of a Shakespearean play. Talbot goes so far as to tell us the passages Bobby Kennedy highlighted in the book The Greek Way, given to him by Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis in an effort to comfort his overwhelming grief. "In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God." Bobby would later quote that passage in an off-the-cuff speech to a poor black neighborhood the night Martin Luther King was assassinated. By bringing us behind the Kennedy curtain, Talbot manages to bring to life a part of history that is not only relevant to our current political climate but also leaves the reader with a feeling of inspiration and hope that perhaps our country will have fearless leaders again and even better to wink at the idea that that time has come.