Ask Not

Ask Not by Maureen Callahan

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Ask Not:

Ask not what this family did to women, ask why they got away with it.

Quick synopsis:

The story of all the women destroyed by the Kennedy family.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

The firefighter who retrieved Mary Jo Kopechne’s body at Chappaquiddick estimated she stayed alive for up to half an hour in the submerged car.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Rosemary Kennedy was lobotomized on the orders of her father, Joe Kennedy. Her siblings didn’t know what happened to her until after Joe died.

My Take on Ask Not:

If JFK wasn’t already dead, Maureen Callahan might have killed him with this book. Do I mean metaphorically, like he would have a heart attack? Or do I mean literally, in that she might have bludgeoned him with a copy of Ask Not to avenge all the women destroyed by the Kennedy clan? Honestly, I don’t know, but if you read the book, you probably won’t be troubled by either possibility.

Ask Not is not a book interested in the positive aspects of the Kennedys. No, Callahan is here to document (exquisitely, I might add) every known woman who was used, discarded, and then destroyed when they became inconvenient. Sorry, I know “destroyed” is doing a lot of heavy lifting here. It can mean killed, lobotomized, left to die in a car underwater, called a druggie/prostitute, driven to overdose/suicide, or just ignored. The “lucky” ones just stay in loveless marriages, and they were all loveless marriages.

I know that Maureen Callahan writes for newspapers which could be considered “right-wing” and that this book may be painted as a salacious hit piece on a prominent Democratic family. (For the record, Callahan also wrote the widely praised American Predator which I highly recommend.) Callahan tells the reader what her agenda is, and she then fulfills that promise. Yes, the author spends 300 pages lambasting the Kennedys, but she is not doing it for political purposes. She is doing it to give a voice to the women who were shunted aside by the Kennedys and their enablers for decades.

In fact, feel free to check the extensive list of sources Callahan provides if you think she is trying to pull a fast one. Callahan doesn’t need to stretch the truth to make her argument. After all, when the patriarch of the family is willing to lobotomize his own inconvenient daughter, how much do you need to make up?

Something else I feel the need to highlight is that there is no discussion of politics in this book. None. Additionally, there is a well-known Republican who is lumped in as in the same class as the Kennedys. This is not a political book. It is definitely a true crime book, though.

(This book was provided as a review copy by the publisher.)


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