Excerpt from The Kennedy Men by Laurence Leamer, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Kennedy Men

1901-1963

by Laurence Leamer

The Kennedy Men by Laurence Leamer X
The Kennedy Men by Laurence Leamer
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2001, 912 pages

    Paperback:
    Oct 2002, 928 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


These CIA leaders were for the most part sophisticated men who were not terrified by words like "socialist" and "social democrat," so-called progressives who seemed to want the same world that the president wanted. One of the president's favorites, and his putative choice to become the next director when sixty-seven-year-old Dulles retired, was Richard Bissell, the CIA director of covert operations. An economist, Bissell was an accomplished man who had come into government during the New Deal as a protégé of the liberal Chester Bowles in the Office of Price Administration. Fifty-year-old Bissell had developed the U-2 program, which, until the Russians shot down Francis Gary Powers in 1960, had been indispensable in getting accurate information about Soviet defenses and missile sites.

Dulles described a Cuba that had become "for practical purposes a Communist-controlled state" in which there was "a rapid and continuing buildup of Castro's military power, and a great increase also in popular opposition to his regime." For months the United States had underwritten a series of covert actions, including sabotage, infiltration, and propaganda, while training an insurgent guerrilla force in Guatemala. Most of this Kennedy already knew before the election, and he had learned the rest immediately afterward when Dulles briefed him.

The tweedy, pipe-smoking CIA head explained that there was a renewed urgency to these efforts. The Soviet Union was shipping tons of munitions to the island. Cuban pilots had gone off to Czechoslovakia to train. Castro was steadily garroting his people's liberties until soon the populace might hardly have the strength to rise up, and his agents were provoking revolution throughout Latin America. As the agency realized the magnitude of the challenge, the program of covert actions kept expanding: from the original $4.4 million the year before Kennedy took office, the budget for fiscal year 1960/61 grew to more than $45 million.

Kennedy had met with Eisenhower on the day before the inauguration, when the Republican president had bequeathed his covert Cuba program and admonished his successor to push on with the plans. These were no longer guerrilla infiltrations that Dulles was proposing to the new president, however, but a major amphibious invasion seeking to establish an impregnable enclave that would set off an uprising across Cuba, or at least be a symbol of resistance that would grow until finally the whole island was rid of Castro and his Marxist regime. The Republican president had never authorized an invasion that might involve American troops. Kennedy was being asked to authorize a far more dangerous venture than the one that Eisenhower had signed on to, and far beyond anything the Republican president had authorized the CIA to attempt during his two terms in the White House. The CIA was hoping that its paramilitary force and its agents on the island would foment a "continuing civil war," setting brother against brother in the streets and fields of Cuba, a struggle in which the United States or its Latin surrogates could then intervene and play savior.

On January 4, 1961, before Kennedy was inaugurated, Colonel Jack Hawkins, the head of the CIA's paramilitary staff, prepared a crucial memo outlining what the United States would have to do for the operation to be successful. Hawkins was a poster-handsome marine officer who had fought on Iwo Jima and at the Yalu River in the Korean War and was on the fast track to become a general. Hawkins knew little about Cuba or intelligence and was depending on what the agency told him about Cuban realities. "My belief from the intelligence provided by the CIA was that the place was ripe for revolt," said Colonel Hawkins. "As it turned out, the CIA intelligence was hugely wrong, based largely on Cuban émigrés in Miami saying things that would promote their cause."

Hawkins's CIA plan called for the brigade to liberate a small area, then to dig in, waiting for "a general uprising against the Castro regime or overt military intervention by United States forces." If the Cubans did not rise up against Castro, a provisional government would be established on the small territory and "the way [would] then be paved for United States military intervention aimed at pacification of Cuba."

From The Kennedy Men by Laurence Leamer. Copyright Laurence Leamer 2001. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, William Morrow.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: If I Survive You
    If I Survive You
    by Jonathan Escoffery
    In If I Survive You, author Jonathan Escoffery portrays a family falling apart with grace. Main ...
  • Book Jacket: Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    by Sidik Fofana
    'Everybody got a story, everybody got a tale / Question is: Is it despair or prevail?' ...
  • Book Jacket: Fire Season
    Fire Season
    by Leyna Krow
    Fire Season is a thoroughly enjoyable novel that touches upon multiple genres and themes. It ...
  • Book Jacket: The Story of Russia
    The Story of Russia
    by Orlando Figes
    In The Story of Russia, British historian and writer Orlando Figes shares panoramic and ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Ways We Hide
by Kristina McMorris
From the bestselling author of Sold On A Monday, a sweeping tale of an illusionist recruited by British intelligence in World War II.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Natural History
    by Andrea Barrett

    A masterful new collection of interconnected stories, from the renowned National Book Award–winning author.

Book Club Giveaway!
Win A Minor Chorus

A Minor Chorus

A debut novel from a rising literary star that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Y Can't G H A

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.