Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: Crime, Conspiracy and Cover-Up - A New Investigation


I received a free digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 Stars

Prior to reading this I knew next to nothing about Bobby's assassination, aside from the fact that he was shot in Los Angeles by a man whose last name is the same as his first. I can tell you nearly every last detail of JFK's assassination a few years earlier, but am the exact opposite when it comes to my knowledge of RFK - yet another example of Bobby living in Jack's shadow. Given the timing of the book's release to coincide with the 50th anniversary, now was as good a time as any to start learning.

By nature I am not much into conspiracy theories, but there has always been something about the Kennedy family that has drawn me in. The glitz and glamour, the perfect family photos, lots of easy explanations for the attention they have garnered over the decades. So for me, the idea that two sons from this powerful family just happened to be assassinated within five years of one another, one as president and one as a presidential hopeful...there's something bigger at work. Tragedy befell the family often, but two assassinations, and by random lone gunman? Sorry not sorry, but I don't buy it. Especially after reading this one and exploring Bobby's death, the mishandling of the investigation, and the odd journey of the supposed assassin. That being said, I do not doubt that Sirhan Sirhan shot at Bobby, wounding others surrounding Kennedy as he exited that night. I just don't think he was the only one to do so.

It is clear from the start that the authors put blood, sweat, and tears into this book. The research is there, the pouring over of documents time and time again from the days and weeks and months after Bobby died. Not to mention the uncovering of additional evidence that had, prior to now, been unknown to the public. I also appreciated the fact that the authors took the time to go back and conduct new interviews with relevant people, instead of relying solely on interviews from the time that the assassination happened.

More than anything else, the forensics prove that Sirhan was not the only shooter in the pantry that night. I don't just mean because there were allegedly thirteen shots fired, which were accidentally captured on audio, or 'possible' bullet holes were identified in numerous locations within the pantry signifying that there must have been a second shooter, because how could a gun that could only hold eight bullets make thirteen holes? No, it comes down to the autopsy, plain and simple, as well as eyewitness statements and photographic evidence that Sirhan was in front of Bobby the entire time in the pantry. Not only that, but he was several feet away when he began firing. How is it then, that Thomas Noguchi, LA County's Chief Medical Examiner-Corornor, concluded that Robert F. Kennedy died from a bullet fired into the back of his head? Noguchi's report was detailed and very specific in recounting the fatal shot, determining this based on his expert opinion, that it came from that back of Bobby's head at an upward angle. And even if one were to argue that maybe witnesses are mis-remembering, and Sirhan DID take a shot at Bobby from behind him, the distance calculated swiftly crushes that idea. Noguchi further determined that the fatal shot was fired from no father than three inches away from Bobby's head, perhaps as close to half an inch. Time and again witnesses made statements that Sirhan was in front of Bobby the entire time, and that he never got that close to him. There is simply no way for Sirhan to have fired that shot. Even Paul Schrade, one of Kennedy's aides, believes Sirhan did not assassinate Bobby. Schade was walking behind Bobby into the pantry and has stated to Sirhan directly, as quoted in the book, "You were never behind Bob, nor was Bob's back ever exposed to you."

The book addresses several other points that seem to create the aura of assassination conspiracy and further fan those flames. There is discussion of Sirham being hypnotized or brainwashed, Manchurian Candidate style. Much is also made of witness statements about a man in a gold sweater and the Girl in the Polka Dot Dress. I don't draw more attention to her in jest, she is a very real piece of the puzzle latched onto by so many who claim it was a big murder conspiracy. This is all small potatoes to me when compared to the physical evidence, which might seem to be too dismissive, but the proof is there that Kennedy was killed by someone other than Sirhan. Unfortunately I do not think we will ever be able to answer the questions of 'who' and 'why'.

And perhaps there was no conspiracy to kill Bobby at all, which I know deviates from what I said in the opening paragraph. Perhaps a cover-up became mandatory when the investigators realized that the evidence they were recovering from the scene did not fit their initial assumptions and statements about Sirhan acting alone. Maybe they did destroy evidence and bully witnesses into recanting. But for what reason? The investigators didn't want to look incompetent? They did not want to bungle the case and have a re-play of the investigation surrounding Jack's assassination just five years earlier, where so many doubted then and still do today that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone? Unfortunately for those in power, whatever their reasons for the cover-up, that is exactly what happened anyway. Fifty years later, it is more than clear that there were two shooters that night. I don't think anyone is denying that Sirhan was in the pantry, that he had a gun, or that he fired it. He simply was not the only one.

Not too long ago Robert F. Kennedy, Jr met with Sirhan in prison, for several hours, presumably discussing every last detail of that night. RFK Jr came away from that time spent believing that the man before him had not murdered his father. Surely that alone merits re-opening the investigation.


  1. I've watched a few documentaries on the shooting and I always felt that the shooter was brainwashed or conditioned in some way to do it. I haven't read an in depth book about it though and this might be the very thing!

    1. It is available via Kindle Unlimited also, so check there if you have KU. I did learn quite a bit about the various theories, so I definitely recommend this one. I can't believe the forensic evidence though. I believe 100% based solely on the coroner's report, there is no way Sirhan fire the shot that killed Bobby. It's impossible. It would have had to have been one of those special magic bullets that killed Jack in Dallas five years earlier.


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