In 1968, Robert F Kennedy was elected as the Democratic party’s presidential candidate. Immediately afterward, he was shot and killed in the kitchen of the California hotel in which he was staying. Sirhan Sirhan, a Syrian, was arrested and convicted – but the story doesn’t end there.
Tim Tate, an investigative journalist and documentarian, along with Brad Johnson, an award winning writer and producer, could not accept the government’s account of the events of that fateful day, a day which transformed the very fabric of our nation.
1968 was a volatile time in American history: civil rights marches, feminist marches, the murder of Martin Luther King; the nation was being torn apart at the seams. The calm in this storm, often, was Robert Kennedy – Bobby – the younger brother to JFK, former Attorney General and darling of the Democratic Party. His murder and the subsequent government inquiries shocked the American people to their core. Sirhan Sirhan, a Syrian nationalist, immediately was taken into custody, charged and convicted of the crime. He has not, however, waivered through the years regarding his innocence.
Before this book was written, RFK, Jr, Bobby’s son, met with Sirhan Sirhan – alone – for hours, just the two of them talking. Attorney RFK, Jr. asked pertinent questions as any attorney would do. RFK, Jr. came away convinced, without doubt, that Sirhan Sirhan did not fire the fatal shot into his father’s head. He is asking for a re-opening of the case.
As an historian and an admirer of the Kennedy family, I have read extensively about the family, each son, a few of the daughters and both assassinations – RFK and JFK. I know that while John was the flashier of the two brothers, Bobby was the reasonable, thoughtful, quiet one. I also have read Bobby’s journals during a mid-east visit that he and John took before JFK was elected. While JFK was “squishy” on mid-east matters, particularly on the Israel-Palestine issue, Bobby was steadfast in his support of Palestinian and Muslim rights. He wrote extensively regarding his doubts and questions pertaining to Israel’s policies against Palestine and Syria – and no, the Syrian problem is not a new thing, but rather was exacerbated during this time. Bobby supported Syria and the people there. Which begs the question, why would a Syrian kill the only presidential candidate who publicly supported their cause?
Aside from the political fall out that such an act would cause, the forensic evidence never has matched Sirhan Sirhan. In all of the photographs taken, Sirhan is standing in front of RFK when the shot was fired. This is well documented. Yet the bullet fired was to the back of Kennedy’s head. This alone should have raised doubts into the government inquiry, and for many it did. However, no amount of questioning would alter the government’s findings: Lone shooter, Sirhan Sirhan.
Tate and Johnson have conducted extensive research into all of the areas of this assassination and they have presented a well laid out, thoughtful review of the murder, arrest and subsequent inquiry. They concluded, as did RFK, Jr., that Sirhan Sirhan might have been complicit in the murder, but he was not the actual murderer. This does, of course, imply a conspiracy. While I don’t actually believe in conspiracies, as such, I do believe in government machinations and cover-ups. The US has thousands of government cover-ups on record now that once were considered “conspiracies” to the lay American. When governments lie in order to create war against innocent people, an inquiry into the death of a “bothersome” political candidate isn’t far-fetched at all. Remember, too, who ultimately went on to win that election and ask yourself, in retrospect, if he was a trustworthy man. Hardly.
In an interview with The Washington Post, as well as many other venues since, Robert Kennedy, Jr. has pointedly stated that Sirhan did not kill his father, that there had to been another gunman in the room and that a new investigation must be opened. I cannot think of a greater endorsement for this cause than his statement.
I already have admitted to being a Kennedy fanatic and, most likely, would have read this book regardless. It is, however, an excellent book, thoroughly researched and expertly written. The writing is so engrossing that I could not put it down until I turned the very last page – and then I went online to read more! It covers not only the assassination, but the tumultuous times surrounding it. It has been fifty years since this tragedy and it is past time that, as Americans, we address this issue.
I never have been more grateful to receive a book to review than I was this one! My appreciation to @TimTate and @BradJohnson, not only for the book but for their time spent on its research. Thank you, also, to Thistle Publishing Co. and #Netgalley for this opportunity.