THE MAN WHO KNEW KENNEDY by Vance Bourjaily

THE MAN WHO KNEW KENNEDY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is the author's best book to date and it's got bestseller written into the title. Barney James is the narrator and he didn't know Kennedy. His best friend did, his wife might have met Kennedy at a school dance, and practically everyone he spends any amount of time with had at least been introduced. James knew Kennedy the way most voting adults did--as a reflection of himself and his times. The assassination is his constant reference in this recollection of personal events and tragedy. James returns to it again and again in puzzlement and pain as the chronology of the Oswald and Ruby case succeeds Kennedy's death and all tie in with the story of James' involvement with the disintegration of his boyhood friend. The weakest part of the book is the completely senseless compulsion of Dave Doremus for a drug addicted mental case, a vocalist who (in these pages) has no obvious charms beyond unlikely bosom measurements. Dave Doremus left his first wife, his children and his promising career to pursue her, was briefly, secretly married to her, unhinged by her and finally kills her and commits suicide. James, the essence of self control, is at a loss and leaves his readers at a loss for Dave's behavior, although he supports and tries to shore up the wreckage of Dave's final, destructive days. James is a Kennedy contemporary, shared similar experiences in college and WW II. His identification is an intelligent one because he is an intelligent man. This is not a flawless novel but it clings and readers will keep reading it, later reviewers will certainly keep it in the public eye, and with that title...One shoe -- in, February Literary Guild selection takes care of the other foot.

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1966
Publisher: Dial