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Hersh's slipshod book on JFK misses truth by a mile
[City Edition]
Boston Globe - Boston, Mass.
Subjects: Books-titles; Biographies; Presidents; History
Author: Oliphant, Thomas
Date: Nov 18, 1997
Start Page: A.25
Section: OP-ED
Abstract (Document Summary)

The episode that caught my eye -- mostly because I was acquainted with the purported principals -- is a blood libel directed at the late Kenneth O'Donnell, an original Irish Mafia aide from Massachusetts who was a quasi-chief of staff in the White House and was as close as you got to JFK outside family. If you read Hersh's hideously written tome, you will get the impression at first blush that O'Donnell was a crook. But if you read more closely, you'll discover -- as you will throughout the book -- that the "information" Hersh provides doesn't come within a country mile of the charge.

The two others are not identified, and neither are any of the money people. But Hersh's breathless prose is undercut by material published by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. in his encyclopedic "Robert Kennedy And His Times." This account 20 years ago of the same general topic, based on what the late attorney general had been told about, referred to evidence that officials at the Democratic National Committee below chairman John Bailey's level "were misusing their party positions."

Hersh's named source is thirdhand -- Charles Bartlett, a newspaperman whose work is less memorable than his friendship to JFK. In particular, Hersh quotes from a copy of a letter Bartlett told him was sent to the president that July, warning that "an aura of scandal is building up."

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