I wanted to start contributing reviews of books that I purchased and read in their entirety. After all, reading/digesting tons of books is what makes one a ‘bibliophile’ in the first place. Therefore, I’d like to share with you all a synopsis of a book that I recently finished—American Values: Lessons I learned from My Family by Robert F Kennedy Jr. (this is from the hardcover 1st edition published by Harper Collins, 2018).
Who from my generation and the generations prior did not have something to say (good or bad), by the mere mention of the Kennedys?
When I was growing up and to be quite honest about it, I was not a big fan of the Kennedys or anyone that was associated with them either by marriage or politics.
My mother on the other hand, never once swayed in her favorable opinion of John and Robert F Kennedy. But then again, my mother was an intuitive and a lifelong idealist to boot!
In retrospect, I now know that the distortions/disinformation the ‘yellow press’ of that time (and even the mainstream media) was disseminating had a lot do in why I had such a biased frame of mind toward the Kennedys. This was especially true in respect to how I saw/regarded the brothers: John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy.
Flash forward to the present: now that I am ‘old and wise’ (lol), I have a better understanding/picture of things as it were.
With the naiveté of my formative years long behind me, I had ample time to study and learn of the true legacy that JFK left behind in trying to end the Cold War and the further escalation of US military involvement in Vietnam and Cuba (the ‘hot buttons’ of his presidency).
It goes without saying, but I now have nothing but total respect and admiration for President John F Kennedy, Sen. Robert F Kennedy, and the Kennedy name in general.
JFK’s foreign policies were of course, completely undermined/sabotaged along every step of the way by a very hawkish/bellicose CIA, Joint Chiefs of Staff, NSC, etc., etc.
Hence, JFK’s anti-war policies would eventually be thwarted and reversed by the ever-increasing strength of the Military-Industrial Complex and the subsequent willfully compliant Johnson Administration.
Well, you get the point. I won’t say any more than I need to otherwise I can find myself in a very sticky and troublesome situation—if you know what I mean!
Right! Without further ado let me tell you about the book.
I believe that Robert F Kennedy Jr. was speaking from the heart and with complete sincerity when he decided to share with us some of his more intimate recollections and personal experience in a memoir of sorts (this book).
But more than anything, he wanted to set the record straight and report/inform the world about some specific points that may have been missed or overlooked in prior histories regarding his beloved father and uncle—Sen. Robert F Kennedy and president John F Kennedy.
Here is an excerpt that will give the reader a clear picture of what was just touched upon.
From page 225:
“Jack was wary of American involvement in Vietnam from the outset, and was moving to extract us at the time of his death. Jack’s struggle to avoid that quagmire provides a valuable handbook for modern presidents under similar pressure to send American troops to die in Asia and the Middle East. The arguments of warmongers are hauntingly familiar, yet the case against America committing ground troops to Asia remains overwhelming. History’s judgement will be harsh against those leaders who ignore its lessons.”
Robert F Kennedy—just like his brother Jack, was emphatically ‘anti-war’ and against the outright expansionist/imperialistic policies that the United States was implementing and which was in direct violation of its tenets/principles as a republican form of government. Robert F Kennedy like his brother Jack, fully understood that very powerful corporate forces—seemingly behind the scenes (unaccountable to the people, the constitution, or the official government) were slowly driving our nation toward an uncertain and undemocratic future.
This evolution or devolution if you will, is the inevitable outcome that exists in the present time—a gargantuan ‘corporate state’ that is unaccountable to ‘we the people.’
And unlike many people today, Jack and Robert F Kennedy were educated, well-read, and more importantly—critical thinkers. Of course, this observation also applies to Robert F Kennedy Jr. (the author of this book). Thankfully, these were all traits that they inherited from their family, and rightfully so.
In his book, Robert F Kennedy Jr. fondly recalls (via anecdotes) his time spent in the company of his paternal grandparents—the patriarch and matriarch of the Kennedy clan—Joseph Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. And he goes on to tell us how these two prominent figures actually fostered/promoted a love of education/reading/learning and independent thinking in the Kennedy children and grandchildren.
It’s interesting, but wouldn’t you know it? It seems that me and Robert F Kennedy Jr. have something very much in common. Because that’s exactly what my parents did for me and my brothers and sisters. And we all turned out the better for it! How lucky were we?
Okay—all kidding aside, I cannot stress how important it is to instill an independent/critical type of thinking in children or in the individual in general. And if you don’t believe me—you don’t have to take my word for it, just check with George Carlin for clarification on the matter!
And yet, the complete opposite is being promoted and propagated everywhere you look—in this very day and age.
Now, I want to be very clear on the following. The point about ‘education’ or ‘learning’ doesn’t necessarily mean an academic/institutional one either. No, on the contrary. It’s the kind of education that must be made outside of the ‘institution’ and separate from it. The kind that makes one look further/deeper into the ‘nature of things’ as it were.
A great lesson about ourselves as Americans and citizens/individuals in the world at-large can be ascertained by Robert F Kennedy Jr.’s poignant account of his proud and devoted family.
The core American values that he was blessed with and lucky enough to have learned from his own immediate and extended family members is something that we as a ‘nation’ should work to restore and rebuild anew once more—before it’s too late.
This was a good read for the many reasons already covered. Robert F Kennedy Jr. is a good writer in his own right and his book was thorough, concise, and on the mark—with a very timely message for all inhabitants of planet Earth.
I highly recommend American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family by Robert F Kennedy Jr.
Love and Peace,
Carlos E Romero