"PERFECT VILLAINS, IMPERFECT HEROES: Robert F. Kennedy's War Against Organized Crime" by Ronald Goldfarb

"PERFECT VILLAINS, IMPERFECT HEROES: Robert F. Kennedy's War Against Organized Crime"

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Washington lawyer and filmmaker Goldfarb on his experiences in the Kennedy Justice Department during Kennedy's war on organized crime. In 1961 President Kennedy steamrollered the opposition of almost all concerned and named his brother attorney general. At the time, Robert Kennedy was seen as legally untried, a hatchet man, a McCarthy associate--a zealous but injudicious man. Seven years later he sent the needle off the hagiograph. He had the vision thing down cold. Kennedy's transformation from henchman to hero began at the Justice Department as he took on a national institution that was tolerated insofar as it was recognized--organized crime. He was the first to shed light on the problem and then actively address it, building his reputation while creating powerful enemies. Goldfarb tells the story of those days and their possible effect in terms of the later assassinations of both President Kennedy and his brother. This is basically a memoir of a time and place. Goldfarb is an experienced writer and is not insensitive to the telling detail. His characters, including ""Bob"" (as RFK was called by his colleagues), have substance. But Goldfarb has little to add save his personal reminiscences, charming though they may be. He is not steeped in assassination lore. Conclusion: ""Based on circumstantial evidence, the likelihood is that our organized crime program prompted Hoffa, Marcello, and Trafficante to plot an audacious assassination: First it was to be of Robert Kennedy, and later the plan shifted to JFK."" The better things in the book have to do with Goldfarb's work trying to clean up wild and woolly Newport, Ky., the ""Gomorrah of America,"" according to a local clergyman. A likeable book. There is enjoyment in the tale of a career, and Goldfarb tells the tale well. His assassination theorizing, however, is informed but innocuous.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1995
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Random