The Politics of Deception: JFK’s Secret Decisions on Vietnam, Civil Rights, and Cuba
by Patrick J. Sloyan
Thomas Dunne Books (2015), Hardcover, 320 pages
Growing up as a kid in the 60s, I would hear the grown-ups telling stories about President Kennedy, mainly concerning the Marilyn Monroe connection, with the occasional mention of the Mob and the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Reading Patrick J Sloyan’s The Politics of Deception, I get that same feeling I had as a kid- the feeling that I am being let in on something that I shouldn’t know.
Sloyan, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, was a wire-reporter during the Kennedy administration. Unlike Seymour Hersh’s “The Dark Side of Camelot” back in 1998, Sloyan steers clear of the more tawdry aspects of JFK’s tenure as President, focusing instead on Kennedy’s deceptions, his power over the press at the time, and his disdain for Martin Luther King jr and the Civil Rights movement for starters.
Much of what he puts forth is information that many of us may have never heard before. Such as Kennedy’s fixation with eliminating Castro, the lie that the press corp perpetuated, stating that Khrushchev blinked first during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the President’s role in the assassination of South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem, leading to our involvement in Southeast Asia for a decade.
The Politics of Deception may very well shock some readers, while some may not believe any of it. Having said that, Sloyan has furnished citations, and official documents along with first hand knowledge to build another level to the Kennedy Bibliography. The writing is concise, and fast-moving; Sloyan has constructed a compact, yet highly detailed account of the back-room deals that went on within the Kennedy White House. After a half century, it is a reckoning of the truth in many ways. I highly recommend The Politics of Deception.
Upcoming reviews: Infamy by Richard Reeves, How Gone We Got by Dina Guidubaldi and Without You, There is No Us by Suki Kim.