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THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF THE KENNEDY YEARS and promptly hung up. Again, Kennedy would remember, his voice was oddly flat’not quite as excited as if he were reporting the fact that he had found a Communist on the faculty of Howard University:” In the first of many messages that the assassination delivered to Robert Kennedy, this one from Hoover pointed out that the lifeblood of the attorney general’s political power had ebbed away in one of Parkland Hospital’s emergency rooms. That November afternoon, between his shock, grief, and anger, Bobby Kennedy worked the phones. His political life in Washington had been spent either running his brother’s campaigns or investigating the grassy knolls of the Mafia, corrupt labor unions, and what an earlier attorney general, A. Mitchell Palmer, had called the Red Menace. He was on familiar ground. He spoke with Roy Kellerman, the Secret Service agent who had been in the limousine with the president. He spoke with Dave Powers and Kenneth O’Donnell, political aides to President Kennedy who were in the car behind the president’s when it rolled into Dealey Plaza. All of them used the words “ambush” or “a flurry of shots” to describe what had happened. Talbot writes: “O’Donnell and more than one Secret Service man would tell Bobby the same thing that day: They were caught in crossfire. It was a conspiracy.” That evening, Bobby met Air Force One on its return from Dallas. He accompanied his brother’s body and widow to Bethesda Naval Hospital for what would turn out to be the most controversial autopsy in American history. Even before the assembled doctors bungled determining whether the President had been shot in the front or the back, Bobby had decided that it “was not a ‘he’ who had killed his brotherit was a ‘they:” In Talbot’s most memorable phrase in a book of disturbing conclusions, the attorney general had become “America’s first assassination theorist.” Just to be clear, Robert Kennedy never attended an annual gathering of assassination buffs or speculated about “Umbrella Man” or “Badge Man” or the “Three Tramps.” He did unleash his own investigative hounds, including the capable Walter Sheridan, who within 48 hours reported that Jack Ruby had received “a bundle of money” from Chicago mobsters with links to Jimmy Hoffa, the Teamsters union boss whom Bobby had tried for years to throw behind bars. Talbot writes: “Later, Kennedy would remark when he saw Ruby’s phone records, ‘The list was almost a duplicate of the people I called before the Rackets Committee:” Talbot also concludes that both Jacqueline and Bobby believed JFK had been killed by “a large political conspiracy … Perhaps there was only one assassin, but he did not act alone.” They never suspected Castro or the Russians. Talbot, founder and former editor in chief of , thinks clearly and writes well. His narrative style makes for compelling reading, bringing to life historically complex subjects such as U.S.-Cuban foreign relations. Talbot is good at rendering dialogue, pithy in describing the long cast of shady characters, and capable of capturing history either in vignettes or still life scenes set around otherwise drab conference tables. Best of all, his prose is easy to visualize. While the book is a biography of Robert Kennedy and his response to the assassination of his brother, along the way Talbot concludes that more than three shots were fired in Dallas, that President Kennedy was the victim of a plot, and that government agencies like the CIA and FBI had their own, self-serving reasons for pinning the rap on a lone gunmanin this case, Lee Oswald. Talbot bases many of his own conspiracy conclusions on the observations of the two close aides to the president: “O’Donnell and Powers, both World War II veterans, distinctly heard at least two shots come from the grassy knoll area in AUGUST 10, 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11