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Date Posted: 13:33:59 03/07/05 Mon
In reply to:
's message, "The Kennedys: An American Drama" on 09:12:59 03/04/05 Fri
THE AUTHORS [PETER COLLIER AND DAVID HOROWITZ] HAVE THEIR SAY [ABOUT DAVID KENNEDY AND THE KENNEDY FAMILY], BOSTON GLOBE, June 21, 1984
Shortly before David Kennedy died at age 28 of an accidental drug overdose in Palm Beach's Brazilian Court Hotel, he reportedly said, "Politics is crap," adding that it was time for America to take a rest from the Kennedys, and vice versa.
This seems virtually impossible with the release of "The Kennedys: An American Drama," by Peter Collier and David Horowitz, both 45, co-authors of "The Rockefellers," a 1976 best-seller.
"The Kennedys," a history spanning four generations, was being printed the day David Kennedy died (April 25, 1984). The New York-based publisher, Simon & Schuster, stopped the presses so that the authors could add an expanded, controversial section based on extensive interviews with David, who had spoken without inhibition about the burden of being a Kennedy and how it related to his drug addiction.
Before the book was printed, Playboy magazine carried excerpts from the book (May 1984) containing some of David's comments from the original manuscript. According to the authors, David later confided to them that certain Kennedy family members had accused him of "treason." The censure hurt David deeply, the authors say, something Sen. Edward Kennedy's office has since publicly denied.
Hollywood-born Peter Collier, a contributing editor of California magazine, and New Yorker David Horowitz, a Rolling Stone writer, met in graduate school at the University of California. In separate conversations at Boston's Ritz-Carlton Hotel, the authors reveal their impressions of various Kennedys based on four years of painstaking research.
"The family is not a political institution," Horowitz says. "It's a family. Unfortunately, all the Kennedys are part of the political presentation. In particular, David could have walked away from the necessity of being a Kennedy. If he could have discovered his real self, he could have survived.
"I found David perceptive and witty. He never complained. He never blamed his family for his drug troubles. He internalized his pain. His family treated him as if he were a pariah. He had been living in California for two years (1980-82), undergoing drug therapy. He was in a difficult emotional state. I asked him how he felt about not seeing his family. I felt I was in exile,' he said. The Kennedy attitude toward David, especially from Ethel, was: You have brought disgrace on the family.' The irony is that David's brother, Bobby, introduced him to drugs. The Kennedy charisma came to an end at Chappaquiddick. But it was David who was continuously berated for being a disgrace,' not Ted Kennedy.
"We interviewed David twice in March 1983. David requested that we not make him look like an asshole.' He had always been portrayed as an unstable child. Yet Teddy was portrayed as applying pressure to all the Kennedy offspring after Robert Kennedy's assassination. But he was not paternal to Bobby's children. David told us Teddy often confused his brothers' and sisters' names, calling them by the wrong name. I asked David over and over again if Teddy had ever sat down and had a serious talk with him. Over and over again, David said no.
"David desperately wanted to be accepted, loved, respected. When Bobby (his brother) was busted (Sept. 16, 1983) for heroin possession, David was elated. I'm not alone anymore,' he said. But Bobby put himself in rehabilitation in New Jersey. He then passed the bar exam. Ethel went to see Bobby. The day before David died, I spoke to him. I asked him how he felt about his mother never having visited him. David broke down and cried. Nobody cares about me,' he said.
"Ethel was very supportive when Bobby (her husband, Robert F. Kennedy) was alive. She could always handle the happy times. She was a natural prankster, the eternal adolescent. She cannot cope with reality. She's like an ostrich, burying her head in the sand. Her attitude now, and always has been, is that Bobby is in heaven. The biggest party ever held at her house was after Bobby's death. It was a real Hickory Hill celebration. People were being pushed into the pool. Ethel's impossible dream was that nothing had really changed.
"David was the only one who couldn't be cheered up after his father's assassination. David really identified with his father, was profoundly sensitive to him. As a boy, he was always the first one in his father's lap. David was hit the hardest, a 13-year-old who felt he had no adult who would ever replace his father. In the previous generation, it was Rosemary Kennedy (now 66) who didn't fit' because she was slightly retarded. As her sexuality developed, her mother insisted that a brother accompany her on her dates. She had tantrums about that. The Kennedy solution was to give her a lobotomy.
"David identified with Rosemary. He said: If my grandfather (Joseph P. Kennedy) was alive, they would have done that (lobotomy) to me.' David was afraid that, because he couldn't quite rehabilitate himself, he might be locked up forever.'
"When he was confined to McLean Hospital (in Belmont, Mass.), he was really terrified. He saw a young man there on all fours, barking like a dog. He was in tears and in fear. But David got himself a lawyer and threatened to fight the family. Ted Kennedy told the lawyer he wouldn't contest David because he didn't want a public trial.
"Ethel was not sympathetic to David. Ethel made rules. If her children broke the rules, she threw them out. David often slept in the hedges at Hickory Hill.
"David once said to me: We had all expectations and no guidance.' Once, over lunch, I asked David if he had seen the movie The Gambler.' It's a story of a man who could not live up to his father's legend as a hero, so he becomes a gambler. He gets into a terrible fight, has his cheek slashed and, in the last scene, looks into the mirror, studying his bloodied face. David smiled when I asked him that question and said quickly: That's me.' He saw a parallel between the gambler's destructiveness and his own.
"I asked him then what was heroin like. He said: If you lose your father, your girlfriend and your family in one day, you wouldn't care. Heroin is that good.' "
"Jack and Jackie had a continental marriage," says Peter Collier. "Jackie had a strong identity with her French ancestry. Her notion of Jack's infidelity was: That's what all men do.' Her father, after all, was a philanderer. A topic of intense speculation among Jack and his friends was whether or not Jackie had a crush' on her father. When she was in college, she'd always line up her friends and brag to them about her father's sexual prowess with women.
"But Jack was so externalized, so political, that any kind of depth perception about himself was threatening. He hated the idea of psychotherapy. He called psychiatrists head-shrinkers.' He was a sophisticated man who had a lowbrow view of psychiatry. He did not want to be analyzed for his flaws and quirks. For the Kennedys, the unexamined life was the condition for their thriving as Kennedys.
"There is no end of the tales about Jack's sexual prowess. But there is no evidence that Jackie tried to get even. All the Kennedy women, starting with Rose, made a deal' with their husbands. Rose made the worst deal. She agreed to tolerate her husband's behavior in turn for being part of his socially upward ambitions. It is a decision that ultimately trivialized her. Twenty years after the Gloria Swanson affair, he brought women to his family home, to the family dinner table, and he introduced them as family friends.'
"This had a terrible consequence on her sons, excluding Robert. They were influenced by this. They said to themselves: What's OK for him (their father) is OK for us.' They even tried to outdo their father. In fact, Jack and his father were attracted to the same women. Jack invited women to the Kennedy house and, when they retired, he'd knock on their door and warn: You better lock it - Dad can get frisky.' The Kennedy men had a view of women as objects to be used by a man. Their father's example was an emotional disaster.
"One intriguing thing about the Jack-Jackie marriage is that just before the Dallas assassination, it had gotten better. Jackie proved herself as a political character. In France, the crowds had screamed: Vive Jackie!' Jack was struck by Jackie's political power and, backhandedly, he re-evaluated the worth of their relationship. It was her public power first, their emotional bond second.
"Jackie had a deal with Jack. The Bouviers were out-of-pocket aristocracy. Her father was on the verge of being broke. She wanted to be in the limelight, to be First Lady. Her marriage to Jack was a suitable way to exercise her ambition to be noticed. In the 1950s, this was not easy for a woman. Jackie had always been fascinated by celebrity. Her first job in Washington was interviewing celebrities.
"I discovered 50 letters that Jack wrote to his lifetime best friend, LeMoine Billings. They knew each other from Choate. Some of those letters are filthy, scatological. There were sexual things he wrote that I cannot repeat in front of you. The other letters showed a young man who wanted to make a self.
"In 1940, when he was 23, he went to Hollywood. Jack's letters talk at length about Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Gary Cooper. He went to parties where they were, and he was intrigued by them. He was fascinated with their larger-than-life qualities. He called their magnetism it.' In his letters, he wondered how they got it' to work for them. He wanted to be a film star without working in films. The word he was groping for was charisma.' The tone of his letters was that he wanted to create an epic self.
"Jack's sexual prowess in the White House was well-known. One of Robert Kennedy's burdens was to provide the image of a Kennedy family life in Washington. Ethel Kennedy made people want to come to Hickory Hill because she was so much fun.
"On St. Patrick's Day, she put live frogs in the centerpieces on the table. One evening she invited Robert Frost to a dinner and, after dessert, gave all the guests paper and pencils and told them to write poems. Or she'd invite dignitaries and pretty young things to parties and initiate a game of hide-and-seek. She always managed to put one dignitary and one pretty thing in the same closet.
"It was a ploy. There had to be a Kennedy presence in Washington. Maybe it wasn't architected by a public-relations eye, but Robert Kennedy certainly wanted to prove that an ordinary Kennedy family life was going on, a place with kids and dogs and fun. Robert Kennedy thought maybe some of the scandalous stuff going on in the White House would not come up in the press."
REVIEW / BOOK - KENNEDY-WATCHERS EXAMINE A STAR-CROSSED FAMILY - THE KENNEDYS: AN AMERICAN DRAMA, BY PETER COLLIER AND DAVID HOROWITZ, BOSTON GLOBE, July 15, 1984
Now that the salivating over the Kennedy sex life has abated, perhaps this can be judged as a book rather than as a work of excess, although the authors seem to prefer the latter. Excess sells copies.
Herewith is a rundown of the mass of data Peter Collier and David Horowitz are offering. It includes psychodrama, but little analysis, no sociology, no real sense of time or place. The time, for the Kennedys, was always now, or so at least is the implication, and place was the Hyannis compound, the house at Hickory Hill or another never-never land.
The judgments that follow are the authors', unless otherwise noted.
The Kennedys, Joe and Rose, were grandchildren of immigrants scorned by proper Bostonians who early in the 20th century formed a tight little community, ultimately too small for such an overweeningly ambitious young man. He wanted it all and he got most of it, then had to watch while it turned to ashes.
Joseph Patrick Kennedy was to the district, state and nation born, as was his wife. The difference between these two and other second-generation Irish was that their parents were talented, hard-working, realistic. Joe learned early the ins and outs of politics and how to make money. Over those early years, he made a lot. He was prodigiously energetic and the rest of it: brash, sometimes pushy. He had to win. The authors suggest without proof that the mob was behind him. He went Hollywood, where began his romance with Gloria Swanson. He enlisted in Democratic politics and expected a Cabinet post for his pains, instead got the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission). His personal relationship with Franklin Delano Roosevelt apparently was iffy. The two did not trust each other. Nevertheless, Roosevelt made Joe the Ambassador to the Court of St. James, an appointment so unorthodox Roosevelt hardly could believe it himself.
The children: Joe Jr. was tough, charismatic; Jack was sickly and jealous of Joe, and Jack's defense was to be mischievous, sarcastic. Rosemary became the family's major concern, and when her retardation was pronounced permanent, she was institutionalized, lobotomized. Was this rejection?
Kathleen (Kick) fell in love with the Protestant Marquis of Hartington and they finally were married. Neither family was pleased.
These were the children involved in the war. Because of his intransigent neutrality, the Ambassador was relieved of his post. He was out of government, out of power, out of sorts. There was nothing to do but make a lot more money, and he did.
Joe Jr. was killed, Jack survived PT 109 and Kick's husband died in combat. Jack, the understudy, became the star.
All of this is familiar stuff recapitulated in flat pedestrian prose. The authors make much of their independent research (though intimate family members did not talk to them), but others had been to the well before them. They use awkward words: "stiff-upper-lipism," "doomy," "emulated the masks."
Joe Kennedy began working in camera to make Jack the 1946 Democratic nominee for Congress from a Boston-Cambridge district. That included fixing and money thrown around. Joe was bull-headed, anti-Semitic, pro-Joe McCarthy. Jack was none of the above, but the pressure of his father and the ghost of his brother were overpowering. In the beginning, Jack indeed was Joe's cat's-paw, but he changed gradually. Let it be said, and the authors do, that Jack Kennedy wasn't much of a congressman. He was a chair-warmer.
Kick was killed in a plane crash. Bobby married Ethel Skakel, as bouncy as he was repressed. They began to reproduce.
Mrs. Rose Kennedy. She put up such a front trying to prove her marriage was a success that she drained her own personality. Jack said, "My mother is a nothing." It followed that his attitude toward women was lacking in respect.
Jack determined to run for the Senate against Henry Cabot Lodge in 1952, and a new machine was put together that included Kenny O'Donnell, Larry O'Brien and, at last, Bobby. This was the origin of the word ruthless as applied to Bob. He played dirty (a hatchet man who fought the daily battles of territory and resources) and let Jack stand away from it. Lodge couldn't match the clan. Eisenhower and Christian Herter carried Massachusetts, Kennedy squeaked in with 51 percent of the vote.
Joe began to plan for the presidency.
Meanwhile, Jacqueline Bouvier. Like Jack, she was something of an adventurer, but, more important, she was dominated by her father, an out-and- out womanizer and spendthrift. One of Jack's friends insisted she wasn't sexually attracted to men unless they were dangerous like Black Jack Bouvier.
The authors say that Jack and Jackie were alike in their self-absorption and role playing. Jack went back to womanizing soon after their marriage. That, after all, had been, and still was, his father's way. Rarely did these liaisons mean anything. Jack was simply, some would say simple-mindedly, compulsive about chasing girls whose names he had forgotten in the morning. In 1956 Jackie had a still-born baby and Jack didn't turn up for days. The marriage was foundering.
So was the Democratic Party. Eisenhower beat Stevenson a second time. The Kennedys thought Stevenson hopelessly feckless, and Bobby even voted for Ike.
Bobby had become the linchpin that held the ever-growing family together. He was making his own name, too, principally on Senate committees that formed to investigate labor racketeering. He hired a formidable staff, many of whom went to the Justice Department with him in 1961. Their target: the Teamsters, Dave Beck and Jimmy Hoffa, who didn't have to go to jail, not yet, but Bob made his mark and went on to 1960.
Again, I have to say there has been almost nothing in the book that any assiduous reader of newspapers didn't already know or at the very least could have assumed.
During the 1960 presidential campaign, the Kennedys rang all the changes, spent all the money and made it at the convention despite a sentimental demonstration for Stevenson. The election itself was tougher, but Jack, by now an accomplished TV candidate, was able to overcome Nixon because Nixon sweated on camera and made people nervous.
Jack's first two appointments after being elected were hardly momentous: the confirmation in office of J. Edgar Hoover and Allen Dulles. (Kennedy was ever-cautious.) He appointed Arthur Schlesinger to the White House staff, he said, to fend off complaints of disgruntled liberals, and added: "Since Schlesinger obviously intended to write a history of the Administration, he might as well do it as a coconspirator." I found this funny when I first read it a long time ago, and still do.
The Bay of Pigs: consensus of the Administration was that it failed because of Deputy CIA Director Richard Bissell's poor planning. Jack and Bobby believed that Castro must be dealt with eventually, although Bob was among those who counseled restraint during the Cuban missile crisis.
And then . . . Nov. 22, 1963.
Collier and Horowitz do not recount once more the events of that day or of the funeral. They concentrate instead on the profound depression into which Robert Kennedy declined. This is the only moving section of the book, simply because the authors sympathize, for once, with another person's suffering.
Bob's campaign for the Senate in 1964 was lackluster, but he regained his spirit by 1968, the old joi de vivre. But after he won the California primary. . . .
After Bobby's death, Ethel actually convinced herself that everything would still be the same: parties around the pool, raising her children to be President. It wouldn't work, and she no longer could be called even an adequate mother. She was uncaring for the older boys, expected them to soldier. But they could not recover. They slipped over a morality barrier that Bob had set down for them, and he no longer was there to keep them on his side.
Teddy, too, was at sea, drinking again. Overnight, he went from baby of the family to head of it. Chappaquiddick.
That finished off the Kennedy grandchildren as admirers of Uncle Ted. Joe, Bobby Jr. and David began to experiment with drugs. Jackie married Aristotle Onassis. Joe Kennedy finally died after a long illness.
The family began to be less than the sum of its parts. Ethel would not let Bobby Jr. and David into her house. Collier and Horowitz call Bobby Jr. a leader, but a leader of what? Of drugged-out youth. He would take incredible risks. He was manic. And he was dreaming of the future when he would be President. But he lacked the discipline for reality. Teddy already had failed in the 1980 presidential primaries, and now it seemed that the zip had gone out of the Kennedys. The fun, the sense of precariousness and racing the clock - all gone away.
Well, that, friends, is the book, except for David OD-ing on the last page.
There is a morass of material here, but not much conjecture. It is not the first time all this data has been pulled together. The Kennedy drama, or whatever it was, has been documented thoroughly. One can regret their fate even while asking whether it wasn't old Joe's hubris that brought them up and put them down. America still is fascinated by them, even on the skids, but, so far, it seems to me that the only grandchildren who show real quality are Caroline and John (really Bouviers) and Bobby's daughter, Kathleen.
There is no point in lengthy perorations. It all happened.
This barely adequate book is not worth the attention it has been getting.
PITFALLS IN CHRONICLING THE KENNEDYS ["THE KENNEDYS: AN AMERICAN DRAMA"]
BOSTON GLOBE, August 12, 1984
The current best seller on the Kennedy family, "The Kennedys: An American Drama" has prompted considerable criticism of authors Peter Collier and David Horowitz by people close to the famous clan.
Much of the book's new information, culled from numerous interviews with some of the grandchildren of the late Joseph P. Kennedy and interviews with the late Kirk LeMoyne Billings - longtime friend of JFK and the family - has been labeled "trash" by aides to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
Other critics go even further, suggesting that the advance publication last spring of magazine excerpts, including interviews with the late David A. Kennedy, may have contributed to the death from drug overdose of Robert F. Kennedy's fourth child.
To suggest that Collier and Horowitz must bear some guilt for David Kennedy's tragic death after years of drug abuse, however, seems to be reaching.
The authors maintain that after the book excerpts were published last spring, David was "scapegoated" for the results, bitterly criticized by family members for breaching the family trust and accused of "treason." The pressures on David, they say, included an attempt by the family to persuade him to seek legal advice about the possibility of retracting what he had told the authors.
Although the book falls short as a comprehensive history of the Kennedy family, it succeeds in providing an overview of the family workings - particularly the capacity of the family patriarch to fix virtually everything for his children - that is fascinating, revealing and not nearly as sensational as the authors, armed with Billings' voluminous files, could have made it.
One of the most interesting facets of the book is the authors' discussion, in a separate addendum, of the hurdles that they and other writers and scholars face approaching the subject of the Kennedys.
"Jack's presidency and assassination addicted the nation to the Kennedys' romance and tragedy, making books and articles about the family into something like a sub-industry in American publishing," Collier and Horowitz wrote.
". . . As the Kennedy fate sharpened and stakes grew larger, the family recognized that the only books which could finally be trusted were those created by family members themselves - "As We Remember Joe," Jack's collection of reminiscences about his dead brother; "The Fruitful Bough," Teddy's testimonial to his father; and other privately printed and circulated memorial volumes.
"Truth was not an issue in these works; the sole purpose was to give surviving family members a set of household myths, a substitute text for the authentic Kennedy history jettisoned on the way to the top.
"As far as books by outsiders were concerned, the self suppression that had made Joseph P. Kennedy's autobiography remain one of the greatest stories never told, inevitably led to the suppression of others; the family was in the business of managing its own news long before the Kennedy Administration was ever accused of news management.
"Rosemary's retardation, Jack's near-fatal illness, Kick's (Kathleen's* flamboyant search for romance in the relationship with Peter Fitzwilliam – all these aspects of the past were threats to the future, and dealing with them involved not only erasures, but also penciling in of substitute facts."
Conceding that no family has been more authentically stirring or romantic in their self-avowal and political vision, or more maligned by literary hacks trying to cash in on the widespread prejudice against them, the authors suggest that the Kennedys also are at fault for creating a polarization generated by their propensity for layering "their history so methodically with myths and purposeful misrepresentation."
"Because of its mania for controlling its own image, as much as because of its unique place in the country's history, the Kennedy family has become a sort of Manichean battleground where the first casualty is truth. Writing about the Kennedys easily becomes an exercise in symbolism, an attempt to trap the shadows flickering on the wall of a the cave."
Collier and Horowitz pointed out what many visitors to the Kennedy Library at Columbia Point have learned, i.e., the library has only a thin veneer of substantive information about the personal side of JFK and his dealings with his father and other family members.
As a result, the authors had to develop their own archives that included hundreds of interviews, the most revealing of which were with Billings, Chris Lawford, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his late brother. The biggest coup was persuading Billings to give them access to his extensive files on the family, including a series of letters written to him by the late President during their formative school years.
Although many episodes and incidents that reflect adversely on various members of the family are detailed in the book, Collier and Horowitz refrain from making judgments or ballooning them out of proportion.
And if the writers' revelations about the philandering of several of the Kennedys is considered repetitive, unnecessary and even distasteful by some, their emphasis on the devotion of the late Robert Kennedy to his wife and 10 children counters the belief by Kennedy-haters that all three sons followed their father's example. The great personal tragedy of Robert's slaying was the inability of the surviving adults to take charge and prevent some of the older children from floundering.
A KENNEDY 'SHADOW LEGACY'?
NEWSWEEK, July 2, 1984
"If you think of it as one movement from Grandfather's early days to what has happened to Bobby right now, you realize that the Kennedy story is really about karma, about people who broke the rules and were ultimately broken by them."
So said Christopher Lawford after his cousin Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was arrested for heroin possession last year. And that dark vision is at the core of "The Kennedys: An American Drama" (Summit Books, $20.95), the latest and lustiest addition to the Kennedy family lore. The 576-page epic eloquently and devastatingly chronicles the star-crossed dynasty from the Irish potato famine of the 1840s through the presidency, the assassinations and into the drugs and despair sometimes thought to characterize the latest generation -- penetrating what authors Peter Collier and David Horowitz call the Kennedy family "damage control" operation they say has kept many other accounts so syrupy. Inevitably, the book has kicked up a storm of charges and countercharges even before its scheduled publication this week: some sources close to the Kennedy family even seem to suggest that its pained revelations contributed to David Kennedy's fatal drug overdose last April.
Collier and Horowitz, both 45, accuse their critics of character assassination, but their research methods were bound to cause controversy. Fresh from writing a critically acclaimed saga of the Rockefeller clan, the two former editors ofleftish Ramparts magazine set out to do a similar portrait of the Kennedys. But aside from Eunice Kennedy Shriver, none of the older siblings would even return phone calls. More determined than ever, they created their own archive -- interviewing more than 300 friends, associates and other family members over four years, including sometimes-troubled members of the younger generation: Robert Kennedy's sons David and Bobby Jr., and Chris Lawford, actor Peter's son, who differed sharply with the family line.
The result is largely a fast-paced newsreel studded with details that further unravel fraying myths. The patriarch's philandering was so excessive, the authors write, that son Jack warned female house guests to lock their doors at night. The family, they say, was so fearful that their marginally retarded daughter Rosemary might prove unmanageable that she was given a frontal lobotomy in 1941 that left her severely disabled. But the authors' central theme is that the Kennedy climb to the top had involved "flaunting of all the mores, a Kennedy recklessness and a Kennedy arrogance toward the laws that bound everyone else." This "shadow legacy" lurked, the authors assert, behind such disparate phenomena as the nefarious plots to overthrow Fidel Castro, Jack's dalliance with Mafia girlfriend Judith Campbell Exner (and many others), Ted at Chappaquiddick.
Liability: Much of that is familiar ground, however. The book is most revealing in its pained portrait of the younger generation -- specifically Bobby Jr., David and Chris Lawford -- seen foundering after Bobby Kennedy's death, sinking deeper into drugs and desperate for adult guidance. Despite glowing press accounts of devotion, the authors' sources paint Ethel as an uncaring disciplinarian who throws the boys out of the house, Teddy as an unwilling or unable surrogate father. Bobby Jr. in particular turn to Jack's longtime friend LeMoyne Billings, but Billings eventually joins the drug culture himself before dying in 1981, the book alleges. Always, the specter of the presidency haunts the young Kennedy men. "We can't get free enough from it to consider doing something else with our lives," says Chris. David is shown drifting in and out of schools, in scrapes with heroin pushers and rehabilitation programs, convinced that adults pay attention only when he threatens to become a political liability -- and he dubs himself the "Rosemary" of his generation.
No family members would comment on the book, but sources close to the Kennedys charge that the authors exploited Bobby, Chris and David and betrayed their confidence. "These kids assumed they were talking to a friend," says Robert Shrum, Edward M. Kennedy's press secretary. "If you edit out everything but anger, you can make a pretty nasty picture," says a younger family friend. In fact, says Larry Horowitz, another Kennedy aide (and no relation to the author), "the family made monumental efforts to help David at every level." Friends and Kennedy family members alike refuse to discuss the circumstances of David's fatal drug overdose publicly, but Larry Horowitz and others claim that excerpts of the book printed in Playboy last May had sent David into a deep depression.
'Rumors': Collier and Horowitz insist that the young Kennedys very much wanted to cooperate -- to put their version of history on record. "These were not kids -- they're media pros," says Collier. "They saw us as their Schlesinger," says Horowitz, referring to Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who chronicled Jack and Bobby. The authors vehemently deny rumors that they used drugs with some of their interview sources -- a "whispering campaign" they claim some Kennedy supporters are mounting to discredit them. If David was depressed, they insist, it was because some family members blamed him for the book's revelations, even calling him an "informer" not worthy of the family name. Significantly, though some Kennedy associates say they have found some factual errors in the book, * none has disputed the authors' depiction of drug use by the youths. Indeed, says one close friend of David's, "things were a lot worse than they said."
* Kennedy-family strategist and speechwriter Theodore Sorensen, for example, says he was not present at a Hickory Hill session that launched Bobby Kennedy's 1968 campaign; aide Horowitz denies the book's report that Ted's decision not to run for president in 1982 was put to a vote of the extended family. The authors say they relied on previously published accounts of the 1968 meeting, and they stand by their account of the family vote in 1982.
Still, the authors might be faulted for recounting too much of the recent history through David's troubled eyes. "It's pathetic that this distraught young man, struggling under the influence ofdrugs, should be taken for the all-knowing soothsayer," says Larry Horowitz. The book mentions only in passing -- if at all -- more than two dozen other Kennedy children leading normal lives. Also strangely ignored is the role the media played in perpetuating public expectations of the younger generation. Clearly, this book itself became part of the family's struggles, serving as a psychiatrist's couch for some, perhaps -- an unwelcome reminder of generational rifts for others. David Kennedy pleads at one point in the book that "America needs a rest from the Kennedys, and vice versa." This book will not help in that cause; "The Kennedys" will help maintain controversies over the clan probably long after it leaves the best-seller lists.
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