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Alan Dale

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Program Transcript: David Talbot
« on: January 14, 2014, 11:23:19 am »
Transcription courtesy of Mary Constantine

JFK LANCER: CONVERSATIONS WITH ALAN DALE

Welcome to JFK Lancer Conversations, an on-line interview program featuring discussions with prominent authors, historical researchers and notable personalities associated with the study of President Kennedy's assassination.

NAME: DAVID TALBOT

DATE: 24 April, 2013

DURATION: 00:42:49


Alan Dale:
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

(Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Ulysses)

Welcome to Conversations; my name is Alan Dale. In 1969 former Special Counsel to President Kennedy, Ted Sorensen, published a book titled The Kennedy Legacy in which he wrote this:

There was in the lives of John and Robert Kennedy an indescribable essence that those not close to them may never understand. I do not wish to sound mystical or presumptuous, but there was a spirit emanating from those brothers; a sense of purpose, a quality of life, that the printed page cannot wholly capture.

He goes on to say:

We sought not the restoration of Camelot, but a continuation of our effort to build a better society.

Our topic today is the hidden aftermath of President Kennedy's assassination, especially as seen through the eyes of Robert Kennedy and the men with whom he served. If we look upon history as not merely the analysis of documented events, but also the reflections of those whose lives influenced its shaping, we're forced to concede the fact of its being one-sided. History may have many authors and many voices, but once those figures have passed and those voices stilled, we are left to our own interpretations of its monologues, and so it is that through direct involvement, personal conversation, a precious opportunity to interact with history, we may know the distinction and value of participation. Interviews preserve and document perhaps our most precious and perishable resource; the stories of those who make history, told through their own words. Our guest today is a political writer and journalist who has conducted interviews with many of the principal figures whose recollections are essential to our understanding of the Kennedy years. He is the founder and former CEO and editor-in-chief of one of the first and most influential investigative web magazines, Salon.com; he's the author of Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, Devil Dog: The Amazing True Story of the Man who saved America and 2012's Season of the Witch. It's my pleasure to welcome David Talbot to Conversations. Thank you for being with us.

David Talbot: Thank you Alan for having me.

Alan Dale: A familiar passage, a note from Shakespeare's Saint Crispin's Day Speech from Henry V, includes the phrase "band of brothers": "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers", which is a phrase sometimes used to refer to the association of the dedicated men who served sort of as an inner circle to both John and Robert Kennedy, and I'm curious to know if, when you chose Brothers as the title of your book, were you intending to be inclusive of those people whose personal recollections are included in your telling of this extraordinary story?

David Talbot: I certainly was. Of course "Brothers" speaks first and foremost to the president himself and his dedicated partner – political partner - and brother, Robert F Kennedy, who served as his Attorney-General. But in a wider sense, as you say, it is this band of brothers, and for the most part they were men; who were utterly dedicated to serving the Kennedys, serving that administration. Ed Guthman, who was a great investigative journalist; he went after the corrupt Teamsters Union in Seattle, and risked body and limb to do that, and had come to Bobby Kennedy's attention when Bobby was leading rackets investigations of corrupt unions and corporations in the 1950s; he actually wrote a memoir called We band of brothers, and that was very much - that Shakespearean rallying cry - was very much on these men's minds as they were trying to transform the entire federal machinery.

Alan Dale: What a task, at the peak of the Cold War; can you imagine? So we've got this extraordinary group of people; some scholars, some sort of crime-fighters, serving both President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy; loyalists who are addressing international issues pertaining to world peace at the peak of the Cold War and national issues pertaining to the fabric of our society and the extent to which organized crime in particular was an unwelcome element in that combination.

David Talbot: Right. Of course it was the crusade against organized crime that really had made young Robert Kennedy's name in the 1950s as the Chief Counsel for the Senate Rackets Committee; going after people like Jimmy Hoffa and other corrupt labor leaders, and businessmen as well – he didn't want to just focus exclusively on corrupt unions. But he felt; and this – this feeling - was shared by investigative reporters like Ed Guthman, who then joined Bobby in the Justice Department later on; that if you didn't defeat organized crime, which was becoming a very powerful force in America by the 1950s, that it was already beginning to insert itself into the highest levels of corporate America, business America, unions and government itself.

When I interviewed Ed Guthman before his death a few years ago, he said he compared the situation that America was facing back then to what Colombia and other Latin-American countries faced in more recent years, where you have incredibly powerful drug cartels forcing their way into the very centers of power in those countries.

And so that's what Robert Kennedy thought was at stake, and of course, I think it's fascinating, as my book does, to focus on Bobby Kennedy; really, because my book Brothers really looks at this incredible sweep of history through Bobby's eyes, because Bobby, as Arthur Schlesinger, the great historian and White House counsellor under President Kennedy said, no-one understood the dark side – the dark power centers of American power – more than Robert Kennedy, partly because he had been this investigator for the senate, but partly because that was his nature. He was like a cop at heart in a way, an Irish cop, ferreting out the truth, going after the bad guys. And it wasn't just organized crime that Bobby went after for his brother; later on of course it would be the CIA, and even more powerful forces in some ways than the mafia.

Alan Dale: But when we talk about the Robert Kennedy of the McClelland Committee, the era of going after organized crime before his brother was elected president, before the extraordinary and shocking and de-stabilizing revelations about collusion between the CIA and the mafia to assassinate foreign heads of state, would you say that it's not unrealistic, not unfair to say that there was something about that era – that Robert – the Robert Kennedy of that era – that was fairly black-and-white in terms of his distinction between good versus evil?

David Talbot: I would say so. I think he's more religiously inclined than his older brother; I think his older brother - people have…was more – had an ironic, and more perhaps nuanced sense of humanity and its history, than his younger brother, than Robert did. Robert was the enforcer; he was the protector, he was the cop, he was the guardian. He did see things – tend to see things – in Manichean terms - good versus evil, and his war was not World War II, where his oldest brother of course, Joseph Kennedy, died and his sister, and of course JFK was badly injured in that war. His war I think was more trying to root out evil in American life.

Alan Dale: The Enemy Within.

David Talbot: Right! The Enemy Within, as he titled his book, that's right, on his investigations of organized crime. So Bobby brought a kind of a zeal to that enterprize that – I think you're absolutely right in saying that he tended to see things in black and white. Now of course he becomes, I think, a much different man as he actually then enters into government with his brother. He sees that things are not as he – I actually used this as a quote to begin my book Brothers - that he realized at some point that the world he thought he knew was not the real world. He saw that there were doors behind doors; that people he had great respect – establishment figures – may not be what they seem, and he certainly I think had his eyes progressively opened about how America really worked, the longer he lived and actually worked in the halls of power.

Alan Dale: That quote with which you chose to open - begin your book, I thought is so appropriate, so telling, and so poignant, because really what we're focusing on here are the years – those extraordinary years – following President Kennedy's assassination; periods of enormous anguish and enormous growth, concluding of course with his own assassination.

David Talbot: Absolutely, Alan and let's look at that first, harrowing period immediately after the president's assassination in Dallas. This searing moment for not only the nation but for Bobby of course personally, because everything that he knows now is lost. His brother has been the centre of his world; he's built his whole life, his whole career round serving his brother and suddenly he's been taken from him, and taken from the country.

And here's a guy who, as we were talking about, tended to see things in black-and-white terms as a younger investigator for the Senate; worked for Joe McCarthy, you know, the red-baiter and the demagogue, the Senator from Wisconsin who was the very symbol of American intolerance and black-listing and so on during the Cold War period, and yet he served him; he was a staunch anti-communist in that Irish Catholic tradition, and yet when his brother is assassinated, what does he do?  This is a remarkable story that the Soviet – the Russian historian Aleksandr Fursenko and American historian Timothy Naftali unearthed as they looked – as they were given access to Soviet Military Intelligence files.

Immediately, or within days after the assassination Robert Kennedy and Jackie – his sister-in-law Jackie Kennedy  - are sending a trusted emissary, a guy named Bill Walton, who was a devoted friend and servant of the family – political servant – they were sending him on a mission to Moscow to communicate to the highest leadership there, in the Kremlin, that the Kennedy family did not blame Moscow – did not blame the Soviets for the assassination of the president despite what the CIA and some people in the American press – conservatives – were saying; that Oswald was a communist and that he was part of a communist plot.

The Kennedys figured out right away that that was not what was really happening. They assured the Soviet Union that they didn't believe it was a Soviet plot; they thought instead it was a high-level domestic plot, and they wanted to make these assurances, I think, as a way to reduce the tensions that of course were besetting the world after the assassination, but it's a remarkable thing for Robert Kennedy to do that; to reach out at this moment of great crisis and assure our –his – our deadliest enemies – our Cold War enemies – that he doesn't blame them. And instead to say: No, the plot came from within the American political structure itself. That's a remarkable thing.

Alan Dale: That the real source, the real source of the assassination, the plot to remove President Kennedy and succeed him with someone else, to redefine the course of the American Government, was a manifestation of a war within the government of the United States.

David Talbot: Well, and that's exactly…probably the most important thesis of my book is that the Kennedy presidency was torn apart by this very bitter war over national security and the Cold War. No, I think, really major historian had really acknowledged that up until Brothers. JFK was always sort of popularly portrayed as this sort of dashing, macho cold warrior. Chris Matthews and others revered him in those terms; and now Matthews himself, I'm glad to see in his latest book on Kennedy, now sees him as a man of peace.

I think Jack Kennedy of course was a man of his time; he campaigned aggressively against Nixon in 1960 as a cold warrior because he knew he wasn't going to be able to win as a Stevensonian figure. Adlai Stevenson had been defeated twice, and he wasn't going to go down that same path. So he out-foxed Nixon with tough political rhetoric during the 1960 campaign, but very soon after he was in the White House, particularly after the crises around Cuba: the Bay of Pigs and then, even more harrowing, the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK makes it very plain that he has had it with the Cold War. He feels the Cold War has taken the world to the brink of extinction, and that he is going to do everything he can to establish a rapprochement ~ détente with the Soviets.

He delivers that amazing, eloquent, beautiful speech at American University in June 1963, which has gone down in history as "The Peace Speech", with the heavy help of course of Ted Sorensen, his speechwriter, in which he says, again - at the height of the Cold War - he calls on the American people to see the Russian citizens, their counterparts, as human beings, as people who love their children just as strongly as we do: who breathe the same air and inhabit the same world. Imagine President Obama today saying the same about Al Qaida. It just wouldn't happen.

So President Kennedy was a man ahead of his time; he was not only opening these peace channels to Khrushchev and the Russians but also to Castro and Cuba, remarkably. He was determined to withdraw US troops after he was safely re-elected; he knew he was going to face Barry Goldwater and he couldn't withdraw troops from Vietnam until he had safely defeated Goldwater in 1964, but it's plain from my interviews with former Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara and others who were right there that Kennedy had every intention of de-escalating and getting out of Vietnam. So these were the kind of things that he was doing that alarmed, that antagonized the cold warriors, the national security hard-liners and the military and the US intelligence, and they thought this man was actually putting the country at risk.

Alan Dale: Do you feel that the resolution – the peaceful resolution – of the Cuban Missile Crisis October of 62 – you know, when we talk about this, it never ceases to amaze me, and I never grow weary of reminding the people with whom I speak away from this program, that everything we associate – really everything we associate – with President Kennedy in his term of office took place within two years, ten months and two days. That's how long he was president, and if you really look at the arc that you just represented; from the very harsh trying to out-Nixon Nixon, who was famous for pointing his finger in Khrushchev's face, and all of the macho posturing that Nixon wanted to emphasise about how strong he was as an anti-communist – that JFK plays that, and maybe believed it to some extent, but he'd also had the experience as a combat veteran during World War II, and he grew – he simply learned from his own experience about what lessons he took with him the rest of  his life, pertaining to the executives in the military and the way things are actually done and how frequently there are stupid choices made at the top with irreversible ramifications at the bottom, and so he had that kind of perspective; the experience of his PT Boat being cut in half; all the life-threatening experiences that took him to the place where initially he was kind of carried along with regard to the Bay of Pigs, at least up to a point, but especially during the Cuban Missile Crisis seems to have really come into his own; a turning point where he turned towards peaceful resolution, in addition to the very revealing re-definition of America's attitude toward the people of the Soviet Union, the proposal and signing of the limited nuclear test ban treaty and the installation of a direct telephone line between the Oval Office and Nikita Khrushchev's office, bypassing the State Department; bypassing all of those Machiavellian intelligence and diplomatic methods; and did so with no discernible change to the status of Fidel Castro in Cuba.

David Talbot: That's right. You know, I think Kennedy's a rare bird from the very beginning to tell you the truth. Yes, there was this evolution that you just mapped out while he was president, but even from his childhood on, he is one unique character; he's a guy who – a young man of course who has many near-death experiences because of all the physical ailments that he's afflicted with and the surgeries that nearly result in his death while he's growing up. He of course loses his older brother who was supposed to be the crown prince, the one that father Joe Kennedy had all the ambitions for. He was a sensitive soul; he was a book reader – Jackie Kennedy after his death talked about how he liked nothing better as a boy when he was recovering from one of his health problems to curl up in bed with great history books and biographies.

He was a man of ideas; he was a man who spent a lot of time within his own head. I think he was a man, because of his own physical frailties, who empathized with others who were suffering. I think he understood in his gut the kind of human catastrophe that war brings in a way that, as you say, many men including generals and people who you would think would have some sensitivity about it often don't, and so he was appalled when these generals on the joint chiefs of staff, these men who had – just covered in ribbons and medals – men like Curtis LeMay, who was a great war hero from World War II for destroying Japan, fire-bombing Japan and so on – these men had the absolute temerity to say to – to try to undercut him at meetings in the White House and then to try to push him into a nuclear confrontation in Cuba, which would have been a complete catastrophe. And he just thought these men were out of their minds.

The man I compare Kennedy to really is FDR, and there's something about that, because both of these men are incredibly politically sophisticated men who grew up in wealthy families and I think because of their class and their education, and the kind of powerful figures they were around as young men, they came into office in the White House with a lot of self-confidence, despite in Kennedy's situation, despite his youth.

And after that first blood-letting, the first testing of his mettle at the Bay of Pigs invasion in April1961, I think Kennedy determined right then and there he wasn't going to listen to these older – "wiser" so-called – warriors any more, either in the Pentagon or in the CIA. And of course he immediately begins to clean the house of the CIA and fire Allen Dulles, who I think is – in my research, particularly after Brothers and for a new project I'm working on - I think Allen Dulles emerges as Kennedy's great antagonist in this, not only generationally, because Allen Dulles of course is in his sixties by then and is a figure of the past in many ways; someone who represents everything that Kennedy is against. I think he represents Wall Street power, he represents national security and sort of the old way of looking at the world, like dividing the world in two and the brinksmanship, which his brother, who's Secretary of State under President Eisenhower…

And Kennedy has the guts, I think, and the self-confidence, because of his class background, because he was brought up by old Joe Kennedy, a very shrewd player, a very wealthy of course player, a self-made man who knew these guys and spoke often with contempt about these men in the business world and the political world, because he knew them personally, and I think Jack Kennedy grew up with a fair amount of skepticism right away about these men that he didn't - he didn't automatically have to just revere and follow. And when he actually then did start to confront them of course, and fire them, and sort of clean them out of his Government, that's what provoked, I think, the great crisis of his administration.

Alan Dale: And would you say that it was a statement that it was really intended to be a statement to what we might refer to as the old boys' network, the CIA executives who'd gone back to the origins – the Office of Strategic Services - when President Kennedy replaced Allen Dulles who came in I guess in '53 and stayed Director until '61, where he was allowed to leave his position with honor; he received a decoration from President Kennedy in spite of the true circumstances, which warranted his removal. But is it not meaningful that President Kennedy chose to go with John McCone, from outside the Agency, as opposed to merely promoting somebody; The Deputy Director Richard Bissell was also dismissed?

David Talbot: It was a statement, but not enough of a statement, to bring in John McCone, because John McCone was a Republican; he was a hold-over from the Eisenhower administration; he was on social terms and good terms with a lot of the old Eisenhower guys like Dulles, in fact, and he was not the man who was going to clean house at the CIA. Arthur Schlesinger, who was the liberal conscience of the Kennedy administration along with people like Ted Sorensen, they're serving as a counsellor – special counsellor – to the White House, to the president; he knew that it was a mistake. He warned President Kennedy not to replace him with – not to replace Dulles with McCone, but Kennedy didn't listen.

But Kennedy made some, I think what we now know were fatal errors here and there in personnel. One was keeping Allen Dulles, another was keeping J Edgar Hoover at FBI. He came to regret both of those decisions.  He thought he had to appease the old guard by doing that. I think his father advised him to do it; he thought it would be a signal of stability from administration to administration and so on, but it was another disaster. What you need to do when you have new policies is you need new men, and women, to carry them out, and JFK did that, but not to the full extent he should've. So what he then had was an enemy within - speaking of The Enemy Within – an enemy within his own administration from the very beginning.

And even after he fires Allen Dulles, what I've now found out, Allen Dulles is gone after year one of the Kennedy Presidency; by 1962 he's out as Director of the CIA, but he basically continued to think he was running the CIA from his home in Georgetown. You can see from his day calendars that the men who were coming to visit him are all important CIA officials who are checking in with him regularly.

McCone, the fellow who replaces him, had no intelligence background; he's a Republican businessman from California; he was in over his head, and he himself was often checking in with Dulles just to get advice and counsel.

So Dulles was "The Old Man"; that's what they called him; he was the godfather of the intelligence world. And he continued, unfortunately I think, to have great influence within the CIA and the intelligence world even after Kennedy fired him.

Alan Dale: I believe that I've read somewhere - who knows where? I hope you won't ask me – do I remember correctly that during the process by which someone was assisting Allen Dulles in his memoir - his autobiography – that, almost as an aside, the person who was – if not – not really ghost-writing but certainly assisting, didn't I read that Dulles said, almost under his breath, "That little Kennedy thought he was a god"?

David Talbot: Absolutely, that's correct. Allan Dulles was co-operating with a young editor from Harpers magazine, Willie Morris, who later went on to become a legend in the magazine world and the publishing world. He became the top editor eventually at Harpers and made it into a – THE magazine – of its day in the 19 – late 1960s. But Willie Morris at the time was a – kind of a – junior editorial figure, and he was down in Washington DC to help craft – help Dulles put together – his version of the Bay of Pigs, which they were going to run as an article in Harpers. And he found him right away, as most people did, to be the sort of older, charming, avuncular character, pipe-smoking guy, professorial, and he was enjoying his time with him, but one evening they went out for a little relaxation; for a walk around his neighbourhood in Georgetown – those beautiful neighbourhoods; leafy, with the brick sidewalks and all that. And they were walking down the street and Kennedy as a topic came up, and this sort of cloud, this dark cloud,at that point - psychological dark cloud - comes over Dulles and his brow knits and he – it's like he's back in those days when he was fighting it out with Kennedy. He said – he spits out –he says: "Yeah, that little Kennedy (I love that  - that little Kennedy, and it's referring to the President of the United States) that little Kennedy, he thought he was a god," that's right.

Now, I think that Allen Dulles knew that the real gods were his people, was his family, that had basically run the Eisenhower foreign policy. John Foster Dulles was a towering figure in the Eisenhower presidency – he was Secretary of State; Dulles himself – Allen Dulles – had been his Director of CIA, and Eleanor Dulles, their sister, was an important figure within the State Department, and it was their crowd – this is a crowd that comes out of Wall Street, they know all the right people, they belong to all the right clubs.

The Kennedys, in their minds, are upstarts: they're Irish bootleggers; they're saloon-keepers; you know, they're – they're pretenders to the throne, and someone like...their feeling probably is that old Joe Kennedy, this corrupt Wall Street swindler had installed his son; his playboy son; in the White House.

Alan Dale: Bought the presidency, making it illegitimate.

David Talbot: That's right. And so then, when on top of it, he thought "Well, I'm just going to educate this young pup, and I'll tell him – I'll guide him here and there…

Alan Dale: "No problem".

David Talbot: "No problem". When Kennedy – he's shocked though after the Bay of Pigs to realise that Kennedy is a leader with some ideas of his own; an increasingly formidable figure himself, and of course when he throws Dulles overboard then, I think, the war is in the open; the war between this old guard and the New Frontiersmen; the new Kennedy crowd. And the leader of the old guard is Allen Dulles, there's no doubt in my mind – there's no-one in that circle; not James Angleton at CIA or Richard Helms at CIA, or any of the Joint Chiefs; Le May, Arleigh Burke – any of those guys, that have the kind of establishment stature, and respect, and clout that an Allen Dulles does.

Because he was the consigliore - going way back, he and his brother, as the top partners at Sullivan and Cromwell, the most politically powerful law firm on Wall Street - they were the consigliore for the corporate elite from the very beginning. And these guys were deeply connected; they were deeply connected not only in the Washington world; the military and intelligence, but on Wall Street, to the oil industry, to the media industry; they knew all the right people and they felt that they represented – they were the gods, not little Kennedy. They were the gods of America, and so how dare this little Kennedy challenge their power? That – they were the permanent government, and that's why in my second book I want to now go broaden my focus a bit and – or shift the camera at least – and look at the Kennedy antagonists, and particularly Allen Dulles, who I think was the leader of that group.

I want to know who they thought they were, what they were doing behind closed doors, and how their war with Kennedy finally, I think, resulted in his death.

Alan Dale: We're speaking with David Talbot, author of Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years. It's our pleasure to do so. We're going to take a brief intermission; we'll be back in just a moment.

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Alan Dale: We're speaking with David Talbot, author of Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years. David, you just referred to an additional project, a new book which you're researching right now, and I'm curious if you have a title and what you can tell us about when that might become available.

David Talbot: Well, yes, I am deeply involved in a new book; I've been working for the past year on it. It – the publication date will be in 2015; it'll be published by Harper Collins, and it – as I said, it focuses on Allen Dulles, who I think is this very significant character in America, American life, in the 20th century, and he represents to me the secret power that Americans for the most part don't know about.

Alan Dale: Right, deep political connections of the highest and deepest order in terms of how real power was actually exercised in the modern world.

David Talbot: Absolutely, and it's what Peter Dale Scott, who I have great respect for, and have learned so much from; the great Berkeley scholar who's written so astutely about that world of secret power – of course he calls it the world of Deep Politics. And so, yeah, this is my attempt to look at the world of Deep Politics, and not just in the Kennedy era. The book'll be divided into three sections. It begins in the Nazi era; World War II, when Allen Dulles and his brother and many of their Wall Street, I think, brethren played a role in helping Hitler and the Third Reich come to power through their financial dealings with Germany at the time. Then Allen Dulles goes to Switzerland during World War II, and he is actually our top intelligence figure on continental Europe at that point, from his post in Bern, Switzerland. And he – immediately what he's up to there is making contacts with what he calls "the good Nazis", what he thinks of as "the good Nazis", and he's intent on incorporating the "best" Nazis into the new post-war structure as a bulwark against the Soviet Union. And so in a way, when you read – and many of these records now have been declassified through the great work of people in Congress like Elizabeth Hotlzman, who for years and years fought to get the CIA to release these OSS and CIA records – on how we essentially – our intelligence agencies – collaborated with some of the worst war criminals to come out of World War II, and Dulles is at the center of that. It's just heart-breaking to see that these men who should have met – really met justice at Nuremburg - got away because of people like Dulles, because they were being recruited to help fight the Soviet Union. And in a way what I've been saying is that we didn't defeat the Third Reich so much as kind of incorporate it within our post-war agencies and organizations. So anyway, that's the first part of the book.

The second part looks at how the two Dulles brothers, John Foster and Allen, as I said, really were – Eisenhower outsourced his presidency to them, particularly as Eisenhower gets older and sicker in his second term – and these men were basically doing whatever they wanted. They treated the world like their chessboard, which is why I call the book The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, John Kennedy and the Dark Game of Power.

Alan Dale: Excellent, excellent.

And the final section will be about this confrontation between Allen Dulles and the old guard of American power, this secret power, and John Kennedy representing this new reform energy in American politics, and of course we know it has a tragic ending. But I think – I want the book to read like a spy thriller: I put a lot of effort into the way I write my books because so many books about politics and about the assassination are often so dense, I think, and detailed that most readers – the general reader – have a hard time slogging through them. So I've always said that the best story wins. We're involved I think in a great battle for the hearts and minds of the American people. People who just keep repeating the same conventional sort of history versus people who are trying to get deeper, like Peter Dale Scott, and open up the public's mind to what – how the country really operates. And so we're in this great battle: Arthur Schlesinger said that history is a never-ending argument, and I think the people who tend to have the upper hand in that argument are people who can write well, tell a story well, not just in books but in film or whatever. And so I put a lot of effort into the way I write my books, and I hope that this book, if it succeeds, will read, like I say, like a great spy thriller, because it was an enormous, epic battle, I think, between the forces of light and dark.

Alan Dale: Well, I want to tell you sincerely, I think that your book Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years is absolutely essential. I think you did a great job of providing and accessible context to understand the processes that were affecting Robert Kennedy, not only in terms of his awareness, his emerging awareness about the deep complexities of what Professor Scott would refer to as Deep Politics, but also the crude politics of the world of Jimmy Hoffa and all those kinds of guys. And your book is – has revelations to guys like us who think we're knowledgeable about this aspect of our shared history. Lots of extraordinary interaction with many of the principal figures whose perspectives are invaluable to us in – what you did was you conducted the interviews, and God bless you for knowing what to ask these extraordinary people, before those opportunities were lost.

So I want to thank you sincerely for spending some time with us and specially for devoting your energy, and your time and your effort, into helping us to come to a deeper and better understanding about these important aspects to our story.

David Talbot: Well thank you Alan, and thank you for your informed questions. It always makes it of course much easier when you have someone as informed as you asking the questions. So I hopefully will get another chance to talk and I appreciate what you're doing.

Alan Dale: Thank you so much. We will do that.

Our guest has been David Talbot. He's the author of Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, Devil Dog: The Amazing True Story of the Man who saved America, 2012's Season of the Witch, and in 2015 The Devil's Chessboard. It's been a great pleasure having the opportunity to speak with you. It was informative and helpful to me and I'm hopeful others will feel the same. You've been listening to Conversations, a JFK Lancer production. Thank you.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 11:49:37 am by Alan Dale »
Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny.

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