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Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon

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New York Times bestselling author of Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend Larry Tye was given unprecedented access by the Kennedy family to write this in-depth, vibrant and editorially independent biography. History remembers Robert F. Kennedy as a racial healer, a tribune for the poor, and the last progressive knight. But Kennedy—nurtured on the rightist ortho New York Times bestselling author of Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend Larry Tye was given unprecedented access by the Kennedy family to write this in-depth, vibrant and editorially independent biography. History remembers Robert F. Kennedy as a racial healer, a tribune for the poor, and the last progressive knight. But Kennedy—nurtured on the rightist orthodoxies of his dynasty-building father—started his public life as counsel to the left-baiting, table-thumping Senator Joseph McCarthy. A bare-knuckled political operative who masterminded his brother’s whatever-it-takes bids for senator and president, Kennedy okayed FBI wiretaps of Martin Luther King Jr. and cloak-and-dagger operations against communist Cuba that included blowing up railroad bridges, sabotaging crops, and plotting the elimination of President Fidel Castro. Remembered now as a rare optimist in an age of political cynicism, RFK’s profoundly moving journey from cold warrior to hot-blooded liberal also offers a lens into two of the most chaotic and confounding decades of twentieth century America.


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New York Times bestselling author of Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend Larry Tye was given unprecedented access by the Kennedy family to write this in-depth, vibrant and editorially independent biography. History remembers Robert F. Kennedy as a racial healer, a tribune for the poor, and the last progressive knight. But Kennedy—nurtured on the rightist ortho New York Times bestselling author of Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend Larry Tye was given unprecedented access by the Kennedy family to write this in-depth, vibrant and editorially independent biography. History remembers Robert F. Kennedy as a racial healer, a tribune for the poor, and the last progressive knight. But Kennedy—nurtured on the rightist orthodoxies of his dynasty-building father—started his public life as counsel to the left-baiting, table-thumping Senator Joseph McCarthy. A bare-knuckled political operative who masterminded his brother’s whatever-it-takes bids for senator and president, Kennedy okayed FBI wiretaps of Martin Luther King Jr. and cloak-and-dagger operations against communist Cuba that included blowing up railroad bridges, sabotaging crops, and plotting the elimination of President Fidel Castro. Remembered now as a rare optimist in an age of political cynicism, RFK’s profoundly moving journey from cold warrior to hot-blooded liberal also offers a lens into two of the most chaotic and confounding decades of twentieth century America.

30 review for Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lorna

    Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon was a most engaging, comprehensive and meticulously researched and well-sourced biography of one of the most controversial members of the Kennedy family dynasty. Larry Tye was approached by the Kennedy family and asked to write an honest book about Bobby, the book he deserved to examine the many facets of this complex man and the arc of personal change that his life and career represents, and an honest portrayal of both the good and the bad that formed Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon was a most engaging, comprehensive and meticulously researched and well-sourced biography of one of the most controversial members of the Kennedy family dynasty. Larry Tye was approached by the Kennedy family and asked to write an honest book about Bobby, the book he deserved to examine the many facets of this complex man and the arc of personal change that his life and career represents, and an honest portrayal of both the good and the bad that formed the fabric of this life. This was a beautiful book. Having lived through the assassinations of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, I was moved to see the transformation of this most important man in our history. I was moved by his love for his family and for all of the people of this nation. We miss you Bobby. "'Each time a man stands up for an ideal,' RFK reminded us, 'he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.'" "That he could change so substantially and convincingly over the course of his brief public life helped restore a changing America's faith in redemption. In the end he could become this nation's high priest of reconciliation precisely because he had once been the keeper of our darkest secrets." "In the end, this McCarthy phase of his life would be a baseline from which to measure Bobby's--and America's--political transformation and growth." "The loss of his brother also left him more nuanced. A palette that had been entirely blacks and whites now included shades of gray that reflected the ambiguities of the real world." "Like the character he loved in Man of La Mancha, Bobby Kennedy would tilt at windmills that his more cautious brother and father would not have noticed."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steven Z.

    Early in the morning on June 6, 1968 I got out of bed and turned on the news and learned that Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated. Kennedy had just won the California primary and as a college freshman I was convinced that had he lived he would have been elected president. For me, the “what ifs” of American history applied, particularly because of the path taken by the Nixon administration. I often wonder what would have been the course of American history had Bobby Kennedy lived - Civil righ Early in the morning on June 6, 1968 I got out of bed and turned on the news and learned that Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated. Kennedy had just won the California primary and as a college freshman I was convinced that had he lived he would have been elected president. For me, the “what ifs” of American history applied, particularly because of the path taken by the Nixon administration. I often wonder what would have been the course of American history had Bobby Kennedy lived - Civil rights? Vietnam? Income equality? But counterfactuals are an intellectual exercise, not reality. There have been numerous books written about Robert Kennedy and one must be careful to look at the entire picture, not just the last few years of his life when he evolved into a liberal icon. A new biography by Larry Tye entitled, BOBBY KENNEDY: THE MAKING OF A LIBERAL ICON is a major contribution to the RFK literature as it is a very nuanced analysis of the former Attorney General and relies on a vast array of materials, interviews, and newly released documents from the Kennedy Library that results in a fresh approach to examining the life of the third Kennedy brother. The key to Tye’s narrative is that he is able to effectively chart Robert Kennedy’s transformation from a rabid cold warrior who had been counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy, plotted the elimination of Fidel Castro, wiretapped Martin Luther King, supported the war in Vietnam to the liberal hero who was on the precipice of the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 1968 when he was struck down by Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles. The question that emerges is could he “have stitched back together a divided land whose vision seems at best as resonant in today’s polarized America?” It is hard to forget the violence and hatreds that the upheavals of the 1960s wrought with Robert Kennedy at its center; as Attorney General and his brother’s main advisor on domestic and foreign policy, and as a senator from New York. Many argue had he lived the latter part of the 20th century would have been quite different, but it was not to be. Tye’s work is impactful because of the attention he devotes to the earliest, hardest-edge part of Kennedy’s career and how his conservative roots fostered his later transformation. In addition, the author has the ability to unearth, then describe the senator’s unabashed humanity and empathy for others no matter the color of their skin or their religious beliefs. Of all the Kennedy children, Bobby was most like his father, Joseph P. Kennedy. He took to heart his father’s adage that family came first, and in a crunch, it was only your parents and siblings that you could count on. Like his father he would see life in terms of “black and white,” and eventually he was able to prove to his father that he had another able son who could carry on the work of his brothers. Tye’s organizes his book into a series of chapters highlighting the most important aspects of Bobby’s career. Beginning with his service on McCarthy’s Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations we see evidence of how his reputation as a ruthless and vindictive operative developed, a reputation that would stay with him for most of his life. Tye describes the relationship with the Wisconsin senator in detail and we see how the concept of loyalty developed in Kennedy’s mind. Tye provides incisive analysis of their relationship and why they remained friends until the senator’s death in 1957. Tye examines the often told story of the Kennedy-Jimmy Hoffa feud. He relies on the usual documentation as well as a new book by James Neff, VENDETTA that explores the war between the two men in detail. What is interesting is that Tye argues that part of the reason the war between the two men intensified over the years was their similar personalities, i.e., tenaciousness, competitiveness, and the refusal to lose. What is also interesting is that over the three years of hearings Robert Kennedy received more press that his brother Jack, and more importantly it allowed him to emerge from behind his father’s shadow as well as his brother. Employing many of the tactics he used working with McCarthy, the Hoffa hearings were extremely beneficial to Bobby’s career. The feud will remerge once Bobby becomes Attorney General and Tye provides numerous anecdotes based on his research of conversations between the two men, as well as legal transcripts. The Hoffa war was integral to Bobby’s expansion of the Justice Departments war on organized crime. This expansion also carried over into the Civil Rights division, adding lawyers and federal marshalls which became the basis of the Kennedy administration’s attempt to harness the civil and voter rights issues that exploded in the early 1960s. Tye covers the standard material dealing with events in Mississippi and Alabama, but what makes his approach unique is that we see events through the prism of the President’s brother and the strategy they pursued. In the end the events in the south would be so impactful that it helped Kennedy further understand the poverty and lack of rights that black American citizens suffered. Robert Kennedy’s evolution in foreign policy is on full display as he was his brother’s most trusted advisor. This is abundantly clear during the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban Missile Crisis as Bobby becomes obsessed with getting even with Fidel Castro, a major error that he would come to realize later as he let his vendetta against the Cuban dictator get in the way of broader goals and values, just as he had done with his Hoffa campaign. Further, Tye is correct to point out that the book THIRTEEN DAYS, an account by Robert Kennedy of the missile crisis is not an honest appraisal of Bobby’s role, but what is really important is that Kennedy gained a new perspective on the nuclear world he lived in, and how accommodation was just as important as sabre rattling to achieve the nation’s national security goals. For Tye, Robert Kennedy does not emerge as a complete person until the assassination of his brother. Having earned the respect of his father during the 1960 presidential campaign, he would begin to evolve into being his own man during the Cuban crisis, but it took the death of John F. Kennedy for him to complete the process. He would assume greater family responsibilities for his own children and those of his brother. He became the person the family could lean on, but he himself grew depressed and lost his focus concerning his future. He was able to recover in part by jumping into the New York senatorial race in 1964 and his burgeoning political and personal war with Lyndon Johnson. Bobby viewed the president as the usurper of the Kennedy throne, and Johnson who suffered from an Adlerian inferiority complex when it came to the Kennedys, despised the man he referred to as that “grandstanding little runt.” The relationship would only spiral downward as past slights and two extremely divergent personalities dominated the relationship as is described in greater detail in Jeff Shesol’s book MUTUAL CONTEMPT: LYNDON JOHNSON, ROBERT KENNEDY AND THE FUED THAT DEFINED A DECADE. Robert Kennedy’s reputation was enhanced during the 1963 Freedom Rides summer and his election to the Senate, a move that would provide the therapy to deal with the loss of his brother. Once ensconced on Capitol Hill he threw himself into his work as he traveled to the Mississippi Delta and experienced the ills of poverty first hand. Further he took a major interest in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, NY where he witnessed the effects of white flight from urban areas and the resulting racial tension and poverty. Though he was a senator, it was the Kennedy name that allowed him to confront the federal bureaucracy to try to mitigate social, economic, and racial problems that he confronted. The key to burnishing his new found liberal reputation was his changing opinion on Viet Nam. Tye examines the evolution of Kennedy’s cold warrior view of the war in Southeast Asia, beginning in 1951 and sees the change in his perception coinciding with Johnson’s expansion of the war in 1965. At the outset Bobby was careful not to alienate the President, because so many Kennedy appointees were part of the Johnson administration. However, after witnessing the corruption of the South Vietnamese regime by February, 1967 he called for a middle way when he was informed by a French diplomat that Hanoi was open to negotiation in return for an unconditional bombing halt. Tye includes a number of LBJ-RFK conversations in his narrative and it is clear that their relationship had hit rock bottom, particularly when Bobby went public with his views. From this point on Tye takes the reader inside Kennedy’s thought process as he enters the 1968 presidential race. Kennedy’s motivations become clear as the campaign unfolds and the reader will begin to feel that they are a part of a new crusade to alleviate poverty in America and end the war in Vietnam. Tye confronts all the major myths and rumors associated with the Kennedys and Bobby in particular in a reasoned and thoughtful manner. Be it their proclivity toward affairs, getting even with people who opposed them, or just plain everyday matters, he breaks each controversy down into what is real and what is imagined and comes to acceptable conclusions or argues what could be possible, and what never happened. However, Tye’s evolutionary theme as to how Robert Kennedy grew as a person is clear and accurately portrayed. For Tye, the “good Bobby,” outweighs the “bad Bobby,” in this important new biography of a man, who had he lived might have greatly altered the world in which we live today.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Wow, a really good book! The author has been a journalist for many years, and this shows in his clear, succinct writing. The focus is on Robert Kennedy. His youth is covered quickly. Knowing beforehand the family’s history and who is who is helpful. For this reason I would recommend reading The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy first, even if this isn’t absolutely necessary. The title indicates that the central focus is Robert’s transformation and how he cam Wow, a really good book! The author has been a journalist for many years, and this shows in his clear, succinct writing. The focus is on Robert Kennedy. His youth is covered quickly. Knowing beforehand the family’s history and who is who is helpful. For this reason I would recommend reading The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy first, even if this isn’t absolutely necessary. The title indicates that the central focus is Robert’s transformation and how he came to be the liberal icon who in 1968 campaigned for presidency and was tragically assassinated. It is the 1950s and 60s that are the focus of the book; it is during these two decades the transformation occurs. We observe his support of reactionary Republican Joseph McCarthy and his crusade against communism, Robert’s fight against organized crime and corrupt labor unions, his meticulous work in senatorial sub-committees. Missteps as well as achievements are examined. Wire-tapping of Martin Luther King Jr. and personal vendettas. His fight against racial discrimination and overty. I particularly appreciated the chapter on the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. New information concerning the tradeoff between Turkish missiles and Cuban armaments is discussed. Information that had previously been kept secret was revealed in 2014. It is fascinating to learn of all that he did in office – as attorney general and as senator. The book is not only interesting, but also moving. Robert Kennedy’s devastation at his brother Jack’s death is heartbreaking. It is inspiring to observe the transformation of Robert Kennedy. One cannot help but wonder what a different world we might have today had he not been assassinated. What would he have achieved in the fight against poverty and racial discrimination? I do wish more had been said about the assassinator’s motives. I appreciated the author’s balanced presentation of the man - his faults, weakness and strengths. His personal growth is inspiring. We learn not only of what he did but also are given insight into his personality. The author presents conversations in a way that is easy to follow. A person’s name is stated, followed immediately by that person’s words. Then follows in the same manner the other’s reply; first the name and then his respective words. One easily switches back and forth between the two speakers and the dialog is crystal clear. There is humor! Some of the quotes cited are terribly funny! Campaigning, Bobby’s says he will help the fishmongers at the Fulton Fish Market in NYC by eating fish not once but two time a week; with 9 kids now that is a lot of fish! In a pizza parlor Bobby looks around for a fork….do you eat pizza with a fork? I listened to the audiobook narrated by Marc Cushman. He reads exactly how I wish all non-fiction books were read. He speaks clearly and at a reasonable speed that allows you to absorb information. Most important is that he pauses just when he should, thus giving you time to assemble your thoughts. In a rapid narration, if you slower the speed what you get instead is a drawn out, distorted reading that sounds unnatural and lacks pauses. The narration is perfect; I have given it five stars. So many books have been written about the Kennedy family; it can be hard to decide which to choose. I have listed below those which I can recommend. Start with David Nasaw’s. It is the most comprehensive and gives you a firm base to stand on. The other books add deeper understanding of family dynamics. *The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy 4 stars *Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter 4 stars *Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch 3 stars *Mrs. Kennedy and Me: An Intimate Memoir 3 stars I also plan on reading The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy by Jean Kennedy Smith, the only one of Joseph and Rose Kennedy’s nine children that is still alive! Now in 2017, she is 89 years old. She became an American diplomat and was America’s ambassador to Ireland 1993 – 1998.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    This book sat on my “to read list” as I tried to decide whether to read it or not. I just finish reading “Joseph McCarthy” by Arthur Herman and that triggered me to go ahead and read the book as Herman mentioned RFK frequently throughout the book. Tye does a good job capturing the contradictions of RFK. Tye depicts Kennedy’s transformation from a ruthless, arrogant, hypocritical man to a loyal, compassionate, dedicated man who changed the country. Tye states that Bobby was a conservative and he w This book sat on my “to read list” as I tried to decide whether to read it or not. I just finish reading “Joseph McCarthy” by Arthur Herman and that triggered me to go ahead and read the book as Herman mentioned RFK frequently throughout the book. Tye does a good job capturing the contradictions of RFK. Tye depicts Kennedy’s transformation from a ruthless, arrogant, hypocritical man to a loyal, compassionate, dedicated man who changed the country. Tye states that Bobby was a conservative and he wanted to show how he changed into a liberal. The author starts with RFK’s association with Joseph McCarthy and ends with the assassination. Tye goes into depth about the relationship with Lyndon Johnson and his pursuit of Jimmy Hoffa. He follows RFK’s commitment to civil rights and his interest in the problems of poverty. He covers the relationship with his brother, John F. Kennedy, and his role as Attorney General. He also goes into details about his campaign for president. The book is well written and meticulously researched. Tye not only searched the usual archives but conducts countless interviews with colleagues, friends, family and his widow. Tye is a journalist and he writes with the style of a reporter. I enjoyed the book, learned some new information and refreshed old knowledge. March Cashman did a good job narrating the book. Cashman is a voice-over artist and award winning audiobook narrator.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    On June 5, the anniversary of the shooting of Bobby Kennedy, I wrote on my blog about how it had affected me and my schoolmates in 1968. Just the day before I had finished reading Larry Tye's new biography Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon. I had requested the book because of the title and its reference to the growth, politically and personally, behind his becoming the man whose death meant so much to my generation. Tye reminds us of Bobby before was a crusader for the poor, before his d On June 5, the anniversary of the shooting of Bobby Kennedy, I wrote on my blog about how it had affected me and my schoolmates in 1968. Just the day before I had finished reading Larry Tye's new biography Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon. I had requested the book because of the title and its reference to the growth, politically and personally, behind his becoming the man whose death meant so much to my generation. Tye reminds us of Bobby before was a crusader for the poor, before his determination to heal the racial divide: the commie hating, law and order, political operative who worked for family friend Senator Joseph McCarthy and approved wire-taping Martin Luther King, Jr. The Bobby who wanted to bring down Jimmy Hoffa and Fidel Castro. The expectations of his father and the examples of his older brothers meant Bobby was filling the roles set out for him. Until the death of his brother of President John Kennedy, a blow that sent Bobby spiraling into grief but also freed him to explore his own path and seek his own way. Bobby was a complex man with many 'sides', and Tye brings all to life, marking each stride in Bobby's growing maturity and wisdom. It was Bobby's empathy and determination to act against injustice that has immortalized the man. "Lets face it, I appeal best to people who have problems," he remarked during his presidential run. But it was no PR act. He truly loved children, was enraged by the poverty he encountered and that he deemed was worse than what he had seen abroad. And he was courageous, fearless. His extemporized speech to a nearly all-black crowd, telling them about the assassination of of MLK, was an eloquent and poetic plea for compassion. "What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our county, whether they be white or whether they be black. So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King...but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country...for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke." Bobby was not a perfect man and he made errors and misjudgments. But this biography shows us how an individual, through life experience and growth in wisdom, became the moral compass of a people. Could a President Bobby Kennedy have altered America's trajectory? All I know is that his message needs to be heard again today. I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    CL

    Why are we obsessed with the Kennedy’s even all these years later and how is it that a family that has endured so much tragedy can still remain public figures even now. This book makes you wonder how much good Bobby Kennedy could have accomplished had he lived a long life and it shows how he became one of the people who tried to make a difference for those less fortunate and poverty stricken who could not always help themselves. He is one of those people I would love to see in politics today. Th Why are we obsessed with the Kennedy’s even all these years later and how is it that a family that has endured so much tragedy can still remain public figures even now. This book makes you wonder how much good Bobby Kennedy could have accomplished had he lived a long life and it shows how he became one of the people who tried to make a difference for those less fortunate and poverty stricken who could not always help themselves. He is one of those people I would love to see in politics today. The kind of person who would do what is needed for the greater good and not just for himself, at least that is the way I would see his life turning out had he been able to show the world what he was capable of. I would like to thank the Publisher and Net Galley for the chance to read this ARC.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Too often these days, the cry goes up to paint public figures as either all saint or all sinner. People are complex. Circumstances affect who they are. Great people learn from reflecting on the best and the worst of their actions. This book lets us in on Kennedy's experiences--what he did, how he worked, how others viewed him, what he said--and tries to make sense of the trajectory of his growth, development, seeming changes in philosophy, family influence and relationships, and ever so much mor Too often these days, the cry goes up to paint public figures as either all saint or all sinner. People are complex. Circumstances affect who they are. Great people learn from reflecting on the best and the worst of their actions. This book lets us in on Kennedy's experiences--what he did, how he worked, how others viewed him, what he said--and tries to make sense of the trajectory of his growth, development, seeming changes in philosophy, family influence and relationships, and ever so much more in the complex and short life of Bobby Kennedy. Rich food for thought in this era of politicians being afraid to be anything but caricatures of party positions...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    A well researched exposing a Bobby Kennedy most have not bee aware of. The book accounts for changes in Kennedy's political outlook, stepping away from his brother, Jack's support to become his own man. Bobby Kennedy died the day that I graduated from high school. He's been of interest to me for over 50 years. I was glad this book was balanced explaining Kennedy's flaws and his strengths. A well researched exposing a Bobby Kennedy most have not bee aware of. The book accounts for changes in Kennedy's political outlook, stepping away from his brother, Jack's support to become his own man. Bobby Kennedy died the day that I graduated from high school. He's been of interest to me for over 50 years. I was glad this book was balanced explaining Kennedy's flaws and his strengths.

  9. 4 out of 5

    William

    I'll say at the beginning that my favorite RFK book is "Robert Kennedy and His Times." It gets derided for mythmaking, but I think there's some going on here with Tye's book. My gripe with most RFK books is that they usually cherry pick the parts of his career that they want to spotlight for ideological reasons. If they want to cast Bobby as a man of the right, they take his early career and some of his later statements about the inability of government to solve real societal problems. If they w I'll say at the beginning that my favorite RFK book is "Robert Kennedy and His Times." It gets derided for mythmaking, but I think there's some going on here with Tye's book. My gripe with most RFK books is that they usually cherry pick the parts of his career that they want to spotlight for ideological reasons. If they want to cast Bobby as a man of the right, they take his early career and some of his later statements about the inability of government to solve real societal problems. If they want to cast him as a man of the left, which he undoubtedly was, they follow the strategy of this book. There was some new information here, and some interesting observations about his time as Attorney General. But this suffers a little in that, when RFK gets criticized for being insufficiently liberal, he is being removed from the context of his time. He also gets criticized for his remembrances of The Cuban Missile Crisis as being political motivated and protective of his brother, which they were. But the criticism seems to me excessive, as though Bobby might have been motivated by something other than jealously guarding his brother's image. When he is lionized for sounding the right liberal tones, as happens usually when his 68 campaign is discussed, it is forgotten that he was at times a desperate candidate needing to say whatever was needed in the moment to overcome his limitations in several states with vastly different voting blocs. That explains some of his shifting tactics and sounding points. Tye mentions this, but on the whole, RFK's journey is cast more as a man "growing wiser." He is wisest when he sounds like a 2016 candidate, presumably. The book also reminds us, as it examines the world that Kennedy and his brother inhabited, that it was a deeper, richer, more intellectual time than ours, when it was possible to believe that people who disagreed with you weren't motivated by evil, venality, corruption and moral bankruptcy, and that at the end of the day, the country was more important than this or that talking point. Those viewpoints existed, but more often, we listened to "the better angels of our nature." All of that seems long gone now.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    HAIL BOBBY Rather than a boring political diatribe I found in this book a thoughtful insight into Bobby Kennedy – the man. Granted a man of many faces; a man of many moods; a man with faults and shortcomings; but definitely a man of compassion and reason. A man who saw a need for radical change and the conviction and strength to actually try to accomplish it. Bobby Kennedy would not have been everyman’s hero; his personality would have grated on some; but it did not diminish the fact that this wa HAIL BOBBY Rather than a boring political diatribe I found in this book a thoughtful insight into Bobby Kennedy – the man. Granted a man of many faces; a man of many moods; a man with faults and shortcomings; but definitely a man of compassion and reason. A man who saw a need for radical change and the conviction and strength to actually try to accomplish it. Bobby Kennedy would not have been everyman’s hero; his personality would have grated on some; but it did not diminish the fact that this was a man of sympathy and caring for the least of humanity; a man who sought to fight for justice for those who could not fight for themselves. Most importantly – a man who was willing to change his opinion when he saw the need. As he suffered through the tragedy of the assassination of his closest brother, President John F. Kennedy, Bobby carried on in his grief and pain to do the right thing as he saw it. This book does not seek to paint this man as Saint Bobby; but it does show that Bobby Kennedy was a man of merit – his untimely death robbed the USA and the world of a fearless leader with enough empathy to have been truly great. This is an excellent recounting of a life too short-lived. Sadly, we are unlikely to see such a man again in our lifetime.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    It is now close to fifty years ago that my life path changed and my boyhood ended in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Still, my exposure to a complex, brilliant, empathetic, conflicted, saintly, idiosyncratic existentialist also taught me why the most important lessons in life come from a dedication to others, and to personal growth. RFK would like Tye's study of his life. It is disciplined, thoughtful and full of insights which only time can bring. It is so powerful that it b It is now close to fifty years ago that my life path changed and my boyhood ended in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Still, my exposure to a complex, brilliant, empathetic, conflicted, saintly, idiosyncratic existentialist also taught me why the most important lessons in life come from a dedication to others, and to personal growth. RFK would like Tye's study of his life. It is disciplined, thoughtful and full of insights which only time can bring. It is so powerful that it brought back the echoes of sadness and despair I first discovered when I was young. While not as powerful as Jack Newfield's elegy, nor as detailed as Schlesinger's multi volumed biography, Tye's work is a steadier view, matured by time. It is excellent enough that it broke my heart...again.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bernadette

    I spent the summer reading this book, inspired by viewing the Netflix program Bobby Kennedy for President. I was very curious to see what I would find, and if some of the insights from the program would be reinforced. They were, very much so. “Few of us will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” We cannot sit on the sidelines. We must live lives wh I spent the summer reading this book, inspired by viewing the Netflix program Bobby Kennedy for President. I was very curious to see what I would find, and if some of the insights from the program would be reinforced. They were, very much so. “Few of us will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” We cannot sit on the sidelines. We must live lives which have lasting impacts on those around us.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    In an era when 'flipflopping' is a charge frequently hurled at candidates (as though the ability to be open-minded and flexible in response to changing facts and situations is a bad thing), Bobby Kennedy was perhaps the ultimate 'flipflopper'. The Bobby Kennedy of the 1950s was a staunch conservative, a supporter of Joe McCarthy, an unscrupulous political campaign manager and a ruthless hatchet-man for his brother Jack. The Bobby Kennedy of the early 60s was the nation's top law enforcement offi In an era when 'flipflopping' is a charge frequently hurled at candidates (as though the ability to be open-minded and flexible in response to changing facts and situations is a bad thing), Bobby Kennedy was perhaps the ultimate 'flipflopper'. The Bobby Kennedy of the 1950s was a staunch conservative, a supporter of Joe McCarthy, an unscrupulous political campaign manager and a ruthless hatchet-man for his brother Jack. The Bobby Kennedy of the early 60s was the nation's top law enforcement officer and a hawk in the Cold War against communism, authorising wiretaps on Martin Luther King, assassination attempts on Fidel Castro and seriously debating an invasion of Cuba. And yet when he was murdered in 1968, Bobby Kennedy was a liberal dream, a man who reached out to marginalised groups - the poor, the destitute, the unemployed, African Americans, Native Americans, Mexican-Americans - a man who was not just admired and respected but genuinely loved; a man who was seen as a bridge between black and white, rich and poor; a man who despite coming from wealth and privilege managed to empathise and understand the concerns of average Americans; a man who wore his heart on his sleeve and openly cared about people. His campaign embodied all of these aspects, and it touched the hearts of Americans in a way that perhaps no presidential candidate has since. So how did he get there? How did Bobby go from hawk to dove, ruthless to tender-hearted, aloof to open and warm? As Larry Tye chronicles in this insightful and genuine biography, those aspects were always there in Bobby. Throughout his life, those who knew him joked about Good Bobby and Bad Bobby, the twin sides to his character, as though he were some kind of split personality. But as Tye writes, it seems more like Bobby was a genuinely multi-faceted conflicted man, a man who tended to react initially one way before giving himself time to reflect and respond in a more thoughtful, layered and enlightened manner. It is a pattern that repeats again and again in Bobby's life - that kneejerk conservatism tempered by his own self-doubt and willingness to step back and examine a situation before proceeding. It was more pronounced in his youth, but as Bobby grew and matured the more appealing aspects of his character took prominence - his compassion, his generosity, his concern for the underprivileged, his love for children, his playfulness, his ability to reach out and touch hearts and minds, to give. It's ironic in many ways that when they were both alive Jack was seen as the warm, charismatic brother and Bobby the ruthless self-interested politician, when in many ways the opposite was true. Jack was never prone to the kind of self-doubt that Bobby was, and Jack's eye was always on the prize of the White House, the issues mattering far less to him. Bobby's run at the White House was always about the journey, the issues and the people, and he had the capacity to be tested, criticised and found wanting with a grace that Jack never exhibited. At one point in this book Larry Tye discusses how the most insightful critics of any presidential candidate are the political reporters, hard-bitten and cynical, who have seen candidates come and go, see them saying one thing to one group of people in one part of the country and something contradictory somewhere else to another group. These reporters viewed Bobby with that same sceptical, mistrustful eye, and yet in the course of his last campaign he won them over, won not just their acceptance or respect but their love. People loved Bobby; it showed at the time, and it shows in this book. Larry Tye may have set out to write an impartial appraisal of Bobby Kennedy's political evolution, but by the end it reads like a love song. Even after his death, it's hard to resist the appeal of a man like Bobby Kennedy. Now if you'll excuse me I'll just be over here crying for what might have been...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marsinay

    *3.5 stars Not much new has been added, but can be considered a perfectly respectable compendium of RFK biographies published earlier. Tye provides a more balanced view than Schlesinger, but the previously unpublished “revelations” weren’t shattering and didn’t really change my overall picture or understanding of Robert Kennedy. Definitely worth reading if you’re unfamiliar with the RFK story and this is your introduction.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Young

    I was skeptical about the need for a new RFK book, but Tye seems have done an immense amount of new research and interviews for this -- the detail here around his associations with McCarthy, the actual fact of the Missile Crisis deliberations, the 1964 Senate campaign, and more all felt fresh and new to me. It's not a long slog by any means, but it doesn't feel rushed either. You'll find an immensely personal, intimate sense of the man -- deep flaws and all -- that I found riveting and re-assuri I was skeptical about the need for a new RFK book, but Tye seems have done an immense amount of new research and interviews for this -- the detail here around his associations with McCarthy, the actual fact of the Missile Crisis deliberations, the 1964 Senate campaign, and more all felt fresh and new to me. It's not a long slog by any means, but it doesn't feel rushed either. You'll find an immensely personal, intimate sense of the man -- deep flaws and all -- that I found riveting and re-assuring. So many legendary figures of this era don't stand up to scrutiny when placed in the stark light of reality -- RFK is the rare icon who does.

  16. 4 out of 5

    John Kaufmann

    I just finished two new books about Robert F. Kennedy, Chris Matthews Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit and Larry Tye's Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon. Both were excellent. However, I liked Matthews's book more. Matthews was less detailed but, I thought, had a sharper eye for what life experiences shaped the humane liberal icon of his later years, 1965-68. Or, perhaps, he was more concise about it - he kept more to the high points, and was, perhaps, slightly more psychological in natur I just finished two new books about Robert F. Kennedy, Chris Matthews Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit and Larry Tye's Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon. Both were excellent. However, I liked Matthews's book more. Matthews was less detailed but, I thought, had a sharper eye for what life experiences shaped the humane liberal icon of his later years, 1965-68. Or, perhaps, he was more concise about it - he kept more to the high points, and was, perhaps, slightly more psychological in nature. Tye, in contrast, focused more on biographical events and included a lot more detail his years working for Joe McCarthy and his role as campaign aide to Congressman, Senator, and President John F. Kennedy. Matthews covered those events, but succeeded a little better in pulling out the relevant details. Matthews also focused a little more on Bobby's relationship with his father Joe, and on some later events after the assassination of JFK. You can't go wrong with either book - I gave them both 4 stars. If you want more of a biography and more detail, go with Tye's book. If you want something more focused on what events shaped the man that decided to run for the nomination of the Democratic Party for president, read Matthew's book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kristy Miller

    All the Kennedy men are near mythic figures in American history. This biography tells the story of Bobby's public life, from Jack's first campaign, to Bobby's time working for McCarthy, to his years as Attorney General, his own campaign and work as a senator, and final campaign. We see how Bobby grew from a Cold Warrior and Vietnam advocate to the anti-war, racial hero, poverty breaking candidate he was. The book doesn't gloss over the hard parts of Bobby. It talks about his relationship with hi All the Kennedy men are near mythic figures in American history. This biography tells the story of Bobby's public life, from Jack's first campaign, to Bobby's time working for McCarthy, to his years as Attorney General, his own campaign and work as a senator, and final campaign. We see how Bobby grew from a Cold Warrior and Vietnam advocate to the anti-war, racial hero, poverty breaking candidate he was. The book doesn't gloss over the hard parts of Bobby. It talks about his relationship with his father, his brothers, Jackie, and Ethel. It was a wonderful read. When I was a child I was enamored with Jack. But as an adult I fell in love with Bobby. He is my favorite Kennedy, and possibly my favorite political figure ever. I love him because he changed his mind when he learned from and listened to other people. I truly believe we lost a piece of America when he was killed.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Richard Moss

    Bobby Kennedy, the great lost liberal President? Possibly, but as Larry Tye's biography makes clear, he was a lot more complex than that. Tye looks to steer an appropriate middle way between those who have mythologised RFK and those who have looked to shatter his image. What emerges is a man who could be ruthless, and conservative. But also caring, and visionary. It is also a journey of transformation from his early days working for Joe McCarthy to running as an anti-war candidate for the Democrati Bobby Kennedy, the great lost liberal President? Possibly, but as Larry Tye's biography makes clear, he was a lot more complex than that. Tye looks to steer an appropriate middle way between those who have mythologised RFK and those who have looked to shatter his image. What emerges is a man who could be ruthless, and conservative. But also caring, and visionary. It is also a journey of transformation from his early days working for Joe McCarthy to running as an anti-war candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. He learns and adapts his own approaches and views through life and career events. By the end you are persuaded that something significant was lost when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in 1968. At the very least it might have spared the US the Nixon Presidency and Watergate. RFK was no saint but his combination of political acumen, popular appeal and progressive views could have made him one of the USA's great Presidents, and for me the political education and turbulent times he saw meant he would have been better prepared for the office than his brother. Tye's sources are excellent and the prose pithy and straightforward. I found it odd that he chose to use some outdated language for African Americans and disabled people. Understandable perhaps in direct quotes, but not in the actual author's narrative. The narration of this audio book is good, and brings the prose to life.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    During his years in the public eye in the 1950s and 60s, Bobby Kennedy was as controversial a figure as anyone else in American history. Millions despised him because he worked for Senator Joseph McCarthy. Millions more loathed him for his role in supporting the civil rights movement. Yet other Americans lionized him as the uncompromising liberal he was viewed as in the final years of his life. Little wonder that most biographers have veered either sharply left or sharply right in painting a por During his years in the public eye in the 1950s and 60s, Bobby Kennedy was as controversial a figure as anyone else in American history. Millions despised him because he worked for Senator Joseph McCarthy. Millions more loathed him for his role in supporting the civil rights movement. Yet other Americans lionized him as the uncompromising liberal he was viewed as in the final years of his life. Little wonder that most biographers have veered either sharply left or sharply right in painting a portrait of this endlessly complex man. In Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon, journalist Larry Tye steers a careful middle course. The result is a balanced and insightful biography of one of the most significant figures on the American stage in the mid-twentieth century. The man known as RFK Today, the man known as RFK is closely identified with his brother, President John F. Kennedy, who has cast a much longer shadow over American history. As Tye makes abundantly clear, the two were different in a great many ways: in age, stature, temperament, and political perspective. JFK was eight years older and three inches taller — Bobby was considered the runt of the large Kennedy litter — and the younger man bore grudges for decades. His older brother was far more pragmatic and much less prone to anger. As an adult, managing Jack’s first race for the U.S. Senate in 1952, Bobby gained a reputation as “ruthless” that stayed with him for the remainder of his life. Tye insists that the label was misplaced. “Bobby was as intelligent as Jack, although less of an intellectual; Jack had Bobby’s toughness, although he was better at disguising it.” And Tye reveals Bobby to have been an inspiring boss at the Justice Department, a caring father and wife whom he loved passionately, and genuinely compassionate with the disadvantaged people he met along the campaign trail. Still, Bobby was notorious for the abiding hatred he possessed for a long list of enemies, including J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy’s pit bull Roy Cohn, Jimmy Hoffa, and Lyndon Johnson. However, much of his reputation for ruthlessness stemmed from his willingness to follow evidence of wrongdoing even among his friends. “During his three years as attorney general, his office prosecuted two congressmen, three state supreme court justices, five mayors, two chiefs of police, and three sheriffs — all Democrats.” Bobby Kennedy’s evolution from Right to Left Now, nearly half a century after Kennedy’s death, many of the passions have cooled, and long-secret archives have been opened. It’s now possible to view the man’s life in greater perspective. Biographer and journalist Larry Tye has accomplished just that, steering a steady course between the extremes in Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon. As the title suggests, Tye’s theme is Kennedy’s evolution under fire as his brother’s campaign manager, anti-Communist zealot, no-holds-barred Senate investigator, Attorney General, U.S. Senator, and, finally, presidential candidate. Beginning public life identified with the Right, he came to its end less than two decades later as the bright new hope of the Left. Bobby Kennedy is not easy to pigeonhole Notwithstanding Kennedy’s popularity with the Left in 1968, it would be a mistake to pigeonhole him as a liberal. True, he was fiercely committed to ending poverty in America, and he had emerged as a champion of civil rights for African-Americans, albeit slowly and reluctantly. However, like his brother, RFK would have been horrified if asked to support the sort of policies advanced in 2016 by Senator Bernie Sanders. He was, if anything, pro-business, fiercely anti-Communist, a fervent supporter of the Cold War, and committed to economic policies that today might well be considered conservative. Skip this if you know the history In 1968, Robert F. Kennedy was poised for election to the White House when an assassin’s bullet cut him down at the age of 42. His victory was by no means assured, but he had just won the California primary and seemed on track to a showdown with Vice President Hubert Humphrey at the Democratic Convention. Given the intense popular hatred for the Vietnam War and Humphrey’s continuing support for Lyndon Johnson’s policies, it’s clear that the contest would have gone down to the wire, at the very least. Instead, as history shows, Humphrey emerged with the nomination bloodied by the tumultuous events that surrounded the 1968 convention. Had Kennedy won the nomination instead, or had Humphrey won in a fair fight, it seems highly likely that Richard Nixon would have gone down to defeat. Even heavily handicapped as he was, Humphrey came exceedingly close to winning. About the author Boston journalist Larry Tye is the author of seven nonfiction books, three of which are biographies. His previous subjects were Edward L. Bernays, the father of public relations, and the legendary Negro Leagues pitcher Satchel Paige.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Fred Forbes

    Somewhere among the family albums is a picture of me holding a car door for Bobby Kennedy as he excited a commencement speech he had given at my sister's small school in Potomac, MD in 1967. I had first met him when he flew into the airport at Manchester NH to help with Jack's campaign in '59 that my father had helped manage. I was only 14 and saw as I shook his hand that he was at 5'8" about my height. He had always been my favorite, enjoying some of the things I did like white water rafting an Somewhere among the family albums is a picture of me holding a car door for Bobby Kennedy as he excited a commencement speech he had given at my sister's small school in Potomac, MD in 1967. I had first met him when he flew into the airport at Manchester NH to help with Jack's campaign in '59 that my father had helped manage. I was only 14 and saw as I shook his hand that he was at 5'8" about my height. He had always been my favorite, enjoying some of the things I did like white water rafting and mountain climbing (or so I thought, finding out in reading this biography that he was afraid of heights but climbed the newly named Mt. Kennedy in Canada anyway). So there were some personal aspects to my reading, some sad moments reliving not only his death but that of his brother, but aspects of his life I was less familiar with such as his early efforts on behalf of Joseph McCarthy and his time as a New York senator. This book was written with the cooperation of the family so a bit more insight than one might find in other biographies. Particularly of interest to me was to see his positions morph as he learned more about the issues and his truly empathetic approach to the less privileged among us. For those of my generation (Boomers) this is a powerful walk down memory lane. Well researched, well written and a worthy read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alma

    From his first days as campaign manager in 1952 and in 1960 for his brother John’s senatorial and presidential bids, Robert F. Kennedy was a behind-the-scenes, get it done anyway you can kind of guy. This hard nose approach made him a good candidate to work with the much-despised Senator Joe McCarthy, and played an important role in his crusades against organized crime as Attorney General when John became President. Read the rest of my review of this FABULOUS book on my blog "You decide: Should I From his first days as campaign manager in 1952 and in 1960 for his brother John’s senatorial and presidential bids, Robert F. Kennedy was a behind-the-scenes, get it done anyway you can kind of guy. This hard nose approach made him a good candidate to work with the much-despised Senator Joe McCarthy, and played an important role in his crusades against organized crime as Attorney General when John became President. Read the rest of my review of this FABULOUS book on my blog "You decide: Should I read it or not?" Make sure to follow my reviews by putting your email address on the bottom right where it says "follow this blog": https://shouldireaditornot.wordpress....

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brian Rothbart

    I have read many books on Robert Kennedy, as he is one of my heroes. This is one of the best I have read. It is well written and researched. It is also a well balanced book on RFK the man. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in history, politics, or the Kennedys.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paul Kiczek

    The life of Robert F. Kennedy is often seen through the presidency and tragedy of his brother. No doubt JFK provided the challenge that Bobby needed to begin to realize his potential. But, his death may have freed him from his shadow and ignite his own personal crusade dedicating his life for the ideals America stands for. The author provides a very readable and well-documented summary of Bobby's transitional life as he evolved from an anti-Communist, anti-crime zealot to a Ghandi-like peacemaker The life of Robert F. Kennedy is often seen through the presidency and tragedy of his brother. No doubt JFK provided the challenge that Bobby needed to begin to realize his potential. But, his death may have freed him from his shadow and ignite his own personal crusade dedicating his life for the ideals America stands for. The author provides a very readable and well-documented summary of Bobby's transitional life as he evolved from an anti-Communist, anti-crime zealot to a Ghandi-like peacemaker. What this book shows is how a single person, one we hardly knew, could channel so much energy that he could move a generation of people. While his brother JFK seemed to lead the charmed Camelot life, Bobby was instrumental in the making of the president. From his behind the scenes campaign strategy to his negotiations with governors, diplomats and civil rights leaders to his presence in volatile places, he was the one that had the courage to face challenges straight on and come up with solutions. Indeed, if we could update JFK's Profiles in Courage, he would have to be included. Bobby's life appears to be a life of contradictions if you only look at the issues he faced at different times. In reality, he consistently took a hard and principled look at a problem, formed an opinion and fought for what he believed in. Having an open mind, he was able to change his opinions over time, especially where he saw injustice. When Bobby changed his mind, there was never any doubt that he meant what he said. In our age of so-called "fake news" and "truth isn't truth", Bobby's story is both a sad story of what could have been and a hopeful tale of right and principle. Sure, Bobby's incomprehensible death was the death knell for idealism in the 60s. But, by understanding his life and believing that an individual who lived for the ideals we believe in existed, gives us hope for the future. That alone should make this book and others on the man required reading for all of today's skeptics. You can't read this book without thinking about what we face politically and socially every day at the moment. Back when Bobby was considering running for President, he faced an already distraught LBJ who, in spite of being able to pass significant social legislation was unable to extract us from the Viet Nam conflict. Bobby took a look back and decided to run to correct the problems he saw. He summarized the situation perfectly in a speech. It was a sign for the times then and perhaps now. "For almost the first time, the national leadership is calling upon the darker impulses of the American spirit - not, perhaps, deliberately, but through its action and the example it sets - an example where integrity, truth, honor and all the rest seem like words to fill our speeches rather than guiding beliefs." Robert F. Kennedy 1968 - Greek Theatre in Los Angeles

  24. 4 out of 5

    David

    Larry Tye's biography of Robert F Kennedy is top-notch! The pacing of the narrative is great, but for me it starts with his whole approach to this story, which is represented in the full title of this book. It's the transformation story of someone who was a staff member for Joseph McCarthy during his infamous hearings, a man who defended McCarthy until death, someone who was pretty staunchly conservative. However, it shows a man who sounds like so few elected officials to high office today or an Larry Tye's biography of Robert F Kennedy is top-notch! The pacing of the narrative is great, but for me it starts with his whole approach to this story, which is represented in the full title of this book. It's the transformation story of someone who was a staff member for Joseph McCarthy during his infamous hearings, a man who defended McCarthy until death, someone who was pretty staunchly conservative. However, it shows a man who sounds like so few elected officials to high office today or any other time: he was someone who desperately wanted to know how it felt to be someone else. He visited poor blacks in the South to know what their world was like. He visited apartheid South Africa to understand their world. As someone who has done a political 180 because of the people I've met and my experiences with them, I appreciate this story of someone who was willing to seek those experiences to shape his worldview. It's also a nice sneak peek at what childhood was like in the Kennedy home. It's also a reminder that so few things about today's political climate are unique. This is why everyone should read history books and biographies. At one point, I was sure I was only going to give this book 3 or 4 stars because I wasn't quite grasping that it was a meandering linear narrative. That is to say...it goes from early to late chronologically, but it sometimes jumps ahead a year or two to follow how something pans out before backtracking with another topic. At one point, the author is telling us about the civil rights experiences of 1963 when I was starting to think, "Are we REALLY going to skip the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis? How on earth can you talk about RFK without talking about THAT?" No need to worry. The author not only backtracks, but also reveals some information that wasn't disclosed until 2014. So if you only know this story through the book or film Thirteen Days, there is a little mythbusting at work. Ultimately, this is a great example of a life that shows the power and potential of aligning ruthlessness besides an open mind for new experiences. One of the great "what ifs" of American History for over 50 years has been...what if RFK had won the presidential election in 1968? This book only strengthens the power of that question.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Wagner

    This biography is focused on RFK's political career, but with plenty of details about his personal life as well. I hadn't known Bobby Kennedy started his political career working for Senator Joe McCarty, which made his transition to liberal politics all the more fascinating. RFK seemed to be one of those rare politicians who can exist on multiple places on the political spectrum and also convey a compelling vision of a better nation. Had he lived longer, he may have further developed his politic This biography is focused on RFK's political career, but with plenty of details about his personal life as well. I hadn't known Bobby Kennedy started his political career working for Senator Joe McCarty, which made his transition to liberal politics all the more fascinating. RFK seemed to be one of those rare politicians who can exist on multiple places on the political spectrum and also convey a compelling vision of a better nation. Had he lived longer, he may have further developed his politics and advanced the causes of civil rights and poverty that he cared so much about. Unfortunately, due to his early death, this account of his life leaves one with a sense of unfinished business and lost potential. An interested reading, and one that often felt relevant to current American politics.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    This book definitely stirs the imagination of what might've been. The assassination of Bobby Kennedy changed the course of American history. If Bobby had ascended to the White House, there would've been no Nixon presidency, no Watergate. Bobby promised to cleanse America of its racial wounds, and to fight for its poorest citizens. LBJ gave us Social Security and Medicare, but who knows what more Bobby could've achieved in the War on Poverty. I hope one day we have another person who can carry th This book definitely stirs the imagination of what might've been. The assassination of Bobby Kennedy changed the course of American history. If Bobby had ascended to the White House, there would've been no Nixon presidency, no Watergate. Bobby promised to cleanse America of its racial wounds, and to fight for its poorest citizens. LBJ gave us Social Security and Medicare, but who knows what more Bobby could've achieved in the War on Poverty. I hope one day we have another person who can carry that banner with the same conviction.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chuck

    I don’t often read biographies from this period, so I was pleasantly surprised when this one grabbed my interest from the start. By charting his subject’s course from ruthless cold-warrior to compassionate social servant, Tye gives a balanced account of RFKs flaws and his merits. The charm, turmoil, success and devastation of the Kennedy story provide a thought-provoking narrative, making me view today’s politics with a slightly more positive outlook.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Allan Heron

    There are many points in 20th century history where alternative histories can be pondered, but the assassination of Bobby Kennedy is perhaps the key one of them all. Consider a history where he was not assassinated? 1968 was such a pivot point that we would probably be living in a very different world. This is an excellent biograpgy that gets to grips with the many apparent contradictions that made up the man, and his political journey from anti-communist hardliner through to the inspirational ma There are many points in 20th century history where alternative histories can be pondered, but the assassination of Bobby Kennedy is perhaps the key one of them all. Consider a history where he was not assassinated? 1968 was such a pivot point that we would probably be living in a very different world. This is an excellent biograpgy that gets to grips with the many apparent contradictions that made up the man, and his political journey from anti-communist hardliner through to the inspirational man campaigning to lead America into a new future.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    Four and a half stars. Tye does a solid job showing the not-so-perfect Bobby becoming the liberal icon that I/we love today. It really makes you wonder: if Bobby had been elected president 50 years ago, where would our country be today?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    A long and detailed biography of Robert Kennedy. It took a while to get through, but it was worth the effort.

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