Family of Secrets is a book by Russ Baker. Published by Bloomsbury
Press in 2008, the book describes alleged connections between the Bush
family with the Central Intelligence Agency. The book asserts that
President George H.W. Bush was linked to the Watergate scandal and the
assassination of John F. Kennedy.
The book's allegations
Baker was drawn to John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories
after discovering a report that George H. W. Bush could not remember
where he was on November 22, 1963.
In the book he levels various charges of corruption at the Bush
family, whom he ties into the entry of the United States into World
War II, the formation of the CIA, the assassination of John F. Kennedy
and the Watergate scandal.
According to Baker, the first President Bush became an intelligence
agent in his teenage years and was later at the center of a plot to
assassinate Kennedy that included his father, Prescott Bush, Vice
President Lyndon B. Johnson, CIA Director Allen Dulles, Cuban and
Russian exiles and emigrants, and various Texas oilmen. He also
names Bob Woodward of The Washington Post as an intelligence agent who
conspired with John Dean to remove President Richard Nixon from office
for opposing the oil depletion allowance.
The book observes that when George H.W. Bush was at Phillips Academy
his roommate was the nephew of George de Mohrenschildt, and that in
later years, Bush and De Mohrenschildt fraternized in Dallas. In 1962,
de Mohrenschildt befriended Lee Harvey Oswald. Baker also makes a
connection between the Bushes and the Watergate scandal. He describes
Watergate "not as a ham-handed act of political espionage but as a
carefully orchestrated farce designed to take down President Richard
The book received scathing reviews.
In the Washington Post, reviewer Jamie Malanowski said that "by trying
to explain everything, to create a unified field theory of American
tragedy that has the Bushes as the key actors and beneficiaries, Baker
exceeds his grasp." He said that "Baker is not content merely to raise
uncomfortable questions; he has latched onto the Grand Theory of
Bushativity, and he insists on pressing his case with evidence that
will not bear the weight."
Malanowski said that every time Baker "reaches a gap in someone's
means or motivation, he hops, skips and jumps across it as nimbly as a
mountain goat. Such words as 'appears,' 'apparently,' 'likely,'
'seems,' 'seemingly' and 'in all likelihood' appear at many crucial
junctures; there are more crutches in these pages than in the grotto
Time magazine reviewer Lev Grossman called Baker "prodigiously
industrious" but said the effort to frame Watergate as an effort to
take down Nixon was "far-fetched."
In a Los Angeles Times review, Tim Rutten, a former media critic for
the newspaper, excoriated the book as an example of paranoid
literature described by Richard Hofstadter. He said that "if the
paranoid style can be said to have a canon, his preposterous new book.
. . surely deserves a place among its classics." Rutten called the
book a "dispiriting tome" and said that the Kennedy assassination
conspiracy, as recounted in the book, had "about as many people
involved in the plot as there were on Omaha Beach." He said that "what
makes Baker's book singularly offensive is the way he recklessly
impugns, in the most disgusting possible way, the reputations not
simply of men and women now dead, but of the living." Rutten said that
the elder Bush is probably "libel proof" but "using the tissue of
innuendo, illogical inference, circumstance and guilt by tenuous
association -- as Baker does in this book -- to indict rhetorically
anyone, let alone a former chief executive, of an infamous murder is a
Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake said that “[w]hether Baker ends up
convincing you or not, reading this book should make you question much
of what you know about the last half century of US
Investigative journalist Tim Weiner, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and
author of CIA and FBI histories, said the book is “a carnival of
conspiracy theory." He told Boston magazine in 2015 that Baker is
"driven by the search for truth that drives reporters everywhere, but
conspiracy theory in which there’s a giant octopus that connects
disparate events and provides a unified field theory explanation of
otherwise disparate events is not either journalism or history.”
^ a b c "Family of Secrets", review by Lev Grossman, Time Magazine,
December 17, 2008.
^ a b c Schreckinger, Ben (January 2015). "Boston Isn't Strong. Boston
Is Scared Sh*tless". Boston Magazine. Boston. Retrieved May 20,
^ a b c d Rutten, Tim (January 7, 2009). "'Family of Secrets' by Russ
Baker". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
^ a b "Behind Every Rock a Bush", review by Jamie Malanowski,
Washington Post, Sunday, Janua