Tuesday, July 17, 2007


[50 years ago this summer, your editor covered his first story in Washington. Throughout the year, the Review will offer excerpts from "Multitudes: The Unauthorized Memoirs of Sam Smith," the full version of which is available on our site]

SAM SMITH, MULTITUDES - There were four of us standing together at the party and the subject was Sy Hersh's new book on Kennedy. The man who had once been one of Hersh's colleagues at the New York Times called the book unbelievable; his wife and the other woman agreed. I asked him what parts of the book he found unbelievable and he told me the part about Marilyn Monroe that had turned out to be a forgery. That part isn't in the book, I said. Besides, did you ever get near the end of a story and find that something you thought was true wasn't? He said he had.

The woman to my left picked up for him, citing the part about buying the 1960 election. That's old stuff, she said with disdain. Besides why would Kennedy have to go to the mob when he could just go to Mayor Daley? I tried briefly to determine why stealing an election with the help of Mayor Daley was more honorable than doing it with the Mafia, but gained little distance. So I asked the question that had been on my mind from the start: how many of us have actually read the book?

None of us had.

It was another typical evening in the Washington marketplace of ideas.


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