1 out of 4 stars
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Kennedy’s Revenge The Election of 2016 by Stephen L Rodenbeck is a combination novel/non-fiction book. Odd numbered chapters tell the fictional story of Fitzgerald Cavendish a man who discovers he is the illegitimate son of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Even numbered chapters are devoted to the history of the United States financial system. The author notes this up front and suggests you skip the even numbered chapters if you just want to read a novel and vice versa if you only want the historical commentary. I give this book 1 out of 4 stars and suggest you skip the entire book. At least until the author has done extensive re-writing on what is obviously a rough, rough draft.
The author has actually written three books: a novel, a non-fiction history, and a book on conspiracy theories. I looked forward to reading this book but was quickly disappointed. The problem is that not enough attention was given to any of the “books” and none stand out or even stand alone.
The fictional novel could have been an interesting story but it creeps into non-fiction so often it becomes not much more than a how-to list for proving you’re the offspring of a famous person, or the steps you would take to run for presidential office. There were too many lists of facts and historical comments to call this a fictional novel. The story is simply told to the reader but never shows or invests in the feelings of the characters. Everything, from getting the DNA to prove his heritage to the twist at the ending, is easy for Fitzgerald. Although there are stakes to his game plan he is incredibly casual about everything, including his own life. He has no doubts he will succeed and force his agenda on the American people.
The non-fiction chapters started out as a dry textbook but quickly turned into a condescending tone of voice that points out the parts of history the reader does not know and then belittles them for not being taught. The author uses a point of reference to show how money has changed in the last couple of centuries but by the second non-fiction chapter I’d had my fill of the author’s attitude and hope to never see the words “caramel macchiato” again. I didn’t have to worry, though, because the non-fiction portion of the book segued into an account of conspiracy theories from Lincoln to 9-11. But I have to admit I’d never heard the one about the Titanic. The chapters started to feel like a backyard political rant. The author presents accounting of historical events and quotes, but interjects with his own opinionated “Really?” and “if you believe this you need to ‘get your head examined.’” There was too much opinion and twisted documentation of facts to call this non-fiction.
The writing did get better as the book progressed but the lack of a single focus created almost 500 pages of why the author’s opinion is the only one that matters. Even the twists at the end were self-serving.
This book might appeal to conspiracy theorists. But anyone who appreciates a well-written manuscript would not be happy with this book. There is a lot of potential if the author is willing to choose a focus and do some serious re-writing.
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