Benjamin Svetkey
December 05, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Dark Side of Camelot

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
John F. Kennedy, Seymour M. Hersh
genre
History

We gave it a C

This warts-and-more-warts bio is so determined to kill off the Kennedy mystique it should be subtitled The Second JFK Assassination. This time, though, there’s no doubt about the identity of the lone gunman: Seymour M. Hersh has long been one of America’s most respected investigative journalists — or at least he was until some of the anti-Kennedy material he intended for this book turned out to be bogus and had to be pulled from publication.

No matter. He still dumps huge hamperfuls of dirty laundry into The Dark Side of Camelot. Kennedy’s secret first marriage, his wacky plots to murder Fidel Castro, his orgies at the White House swimming pool — Hersh packs so much sleaze and scandal between the covers, he makes Kitty Kelley look like a pussycat. Much of it is old news, of course, even if Hersh does document the allegations more assiduously than ever before. And yet…

Somehow, all this shame and ignominy is, well, boring as sin. Maybe it’s because JFK’s bones have already been so thoroughly picked over. Or maybe it’s because we live in an age when our President’s private parts may be exposed on national TV in a sexual harassment trial. But it turns out that Camelot is a shockingly unshocking read. C

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