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Remembering Camelot

  • Mar 25, 2010
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Turner, Frederick. "The Go-Between: A Novel of the Kennedy Years", Houghton Mifflin, 2010.
Remembering Camelot

Amos Lassen

It is only recently that the legend of Camelot has come to be known not only as the time when John Kennedy was president but as a time that some very sordid things were going on. Our main character here is Judith Campbell Exner, the supposed mistress of not only JFK but of Frank Sinatra and mob leader, Sam Giancana. The narrator (who is unnamed) takes us into Camelot. He is a Chicago newspaper man who seems to know the underworld well and it is through him that we get into the life of Exner as well as learn of the shady dealings and maneuvers in politics. He believes Exner was just swept up in the high life of Camelot and things get out of hand for her when she becomes the president's mistress and the go-between between organized crime and the Kennedys.
Exner is a tragic figure (ala Marilyn Monroe) who rose quickly and fell just as fast and it is through her that we get to peek at power and fame. It was our reporter that found her diaries of the girl who sat at the right hand of America's president and at the left hands of criminals. This is a story like you have never read before and I was glued to the page. It is fiction but it certainly could have been and how different the world might have been had it been true...or is it? Turner gives us characters we won't forget and his detail is amazing. The plot moves along quickly as we follow Exner from a nobody to a somebody and then to a nobody again.

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review by . April 17, 2010
"It was like Hercules being told he had one day to clean ou the king's stable and barn when the place was so deep in s**t the smell of it permeated all of Greece. Well, somehow Herc did it, but then, that's a myth, and this is history, and she gave up trying to rewrite it."    "She" in this quote from "The Go-Between" is Judith Campbell Exner, who for the few shining months of Camelot on the Potomac was paramour to President, Family, and Rat Pack. The months were short--barely …
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Amos Lassen ()
Ranked #208
I am an academic who reivews movies and books of interest to the GLBT and Jewish communities.   I came to Arkansas after having been relocated here due to Hurricane Katrina. I was living in … more
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About this book


The sordid and fabled history of the American Camelot comes to life in this highly stylized, faux-journalistic reconstruction of the life and wild times of Judith Campbell Exner, reputed mistress to Frank Sinatra, JFK, and mob boss Sam Giancana. Our unnamed guide is an old-school Chicago journalist who talks in a hard-bitten voice about crooked prosecutors and pot-smoking car-dealers. But these marginal characters offer him his first glimpses into Exner's strange life and all the secret deals, trysts, and high-stakes maneuvers involved. Soon, he becomes obsessed and convinced that Exner was no high-class hooker, but an innocent believer attracted to romance and the high life, though ultimately in over her head as she goes from a party girl who catches Sinatra's eye to a paramour of the president and later a somewhat-unwitting go-between between the Kennedys and the mob. Turner paints her as a dark-haired counterpart to Marilyn Monroe, a quintessentially American tragic figure who enjoyed a charmed ascent and fell out of grace thanks to her flaws. Beneath the book's gossipy veneer, Turner (Redemption) cunningly probes notions of power, glamour, and notoriety.(May)
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ISBN-10: 0151015090
ISBN-13: 978-0151015092
Author: Frederick Turner
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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