Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon
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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.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of Satchel comes an in-depth, vibrant, and measured biography about the most complex and controversial member of the Kennedy family. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST History remembers Robert F. Kennedy as a racial healer, a tribune for the poor, and the last progressive knight of a bygone era of American politics. But Kennedy’s enshrinement in the liberal pantheon was actually the final stage of a journey that had its beginnings in the conservative 1950s. In Bobby Kennedy, Larry Tye peels away layers of myth and misconception to paint a complete portrait of this singularly fascinating figure. To capture the full arc of his subject’s life, Tye draws on unpublished memoirs, unreleased government files, and fifty-eight boxes of papers that had been under lock and key for the past forty years. He conducted hundreds of interviews with RFK intimates—including Bobby’s widow, Ethel, his sister Jean, and his aide John Siegenthaler—many of whom have never spoken to another biographer. Tye’s determination to sift through the tangle of often contradictory opinions means that Bobby Kennedy will stand as the definitive one-volume biography of a man much beloved, but just as often misunderstood. Bobby Kennedy’s transformation from cold warrior to fiery liberal is a profoundly moving personal story that also offers a lens onto two of the most chaotic and confounding decades of twentieth-century American history. The first half of RFK’s career underlines what the country was like in the era of Eisenhower, while his last years as a champion of the underclass reflect the seismic shifts wrought by the 1960s. Nurtured on the rightist orthodoxies of his dynasty-building father, Bobby Kennedy began his public life as counsel to the red-baiting senator Joseph McCarthy. He ended it with a noble campaign to unite working-class whites with poor blacks and Latinos in an electoral coalition that seemed poised to redraw the face of presidential politics. Along the way, he turned up at the center of every event that mattered, from the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis to race riots and Vietnam. Bare-knuckle operative, cynical White House insider, romantic visionary—Bobby Kennedy was all of these things at one time or another, and each of these aspects of his personality emerges in the pages of this powerful and perceptive new biography. Praise for Bobby Kennedy “We are in Larry Tye’s debt for bringing back to life the young presidential candidate who . . . for a brief moment, almost half a century ago, instilled hope for the future in angry, fearful Americans.”—David Nasaw, The New York Times Book Review “Sweeping . . . [Tye] captures RFK’s rise and fall with straightforward prose bolstered by impressive research. Along with hundreds of interviews with Kennedy intimates, including his widow, Ethel, Tye sifted through unpublished memoirs, unreleased government files, and boxes of Kennedy papers that had been locked away for some forty years.”—USA Today “Tye (“Superman”) shows how RFK was not always the progressive hero but a work in progress—after all, Kennedy worked for Joseph McCarthy for a spell. Tye’s pages on the assassination are heart-wrenching.”—New York Post “This biography will appeal not only to those wanting a portrait of a dynamic idealist, but also to those seeking to understand the emotions of the times in which he lived.”—Henry A. Kissinger
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * From the author of Satchel comes an in-depth, vibrant, and measured biography about the most complex and controversial member of the Kennedy family. History remembers Robert F. Kennedy as a racial healer, a tribune for the poor, and the last progressive knight of a bygone era of American politics. But Kennedy's enshrinement in the liberal pantheon was actually the final stage of a journey that had its beginnings in the conservative 1950s. In Bobby Kennedy, Larry Tye peels away layers of myth and misconception to paint a complete portrait of this singularly fascinating figure. To capture the full arc of his subject's life, Tye draws on unpublished memoirs, unreleased government files, and fifty-eight boxes of papers that had been under lock and key for the past forty years. He conducted hundreds of interviews with RFK intimates--including Bobby's widow, Ethel, his sister Jean, and his aide John Siegenthaler--many of whom have never spoken to another biographer. Tye's determination to sift through the tangle of often contradictory opinions means that Bobby Kennedy will stand as the definitive one-volume biography of a man much beloved, but just as often misunderstood. Bobby Kennedy's transformation from cold warrior to fiery liberal is a profoundly moving personal story that also offers a lens onto two of the most chaotic and confounding decades of twentieth-century American history. The first half of RFK's career underlines what the country was like in the era of Eisenhower, while his last years as a champion of the underclass reflect the seismic shifts wrought by the 1960s. Nurtured on the rightist orthodoxies of his dynasty-building father, Bobby Kennedy began his public life as counsel to the red-baiting senator Joseph McCarthy. He ended it with a noble campaign to unite working-class whites with poor blacks and Latinos in an electoral coalition that seemed poised to redraw the face of presidential politics. Along the way, he turned up at the center of every event that mattered, from the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis to race riots and Vietnam. Bare-knuckle operative, cynical White House insider, romantic visionary--Bobby Kennedy was all of these things at one time or another, and each of these aspects of his personality emerges in the pages of this powerful and perceptive new biography. Praise for Bobby Kennedy "We are in Larry Tye's debt for bringing back to life the young presidential candidate who . . . for a brief moment, almost half a century ago, instilled hope for the future in angry, fearful Americans."--David Nasaw, The New York Times Book Review "Sweeping . . . [Tye] captures RFK's rise and fall with straightforward prose bolstered by impressive research. Along with hundreds of interviews with Kennedy intimates, including his widow, Ethel, Tye sifted through unpublished memoirs, unreleased government files, and boxes of Kennedy papers that had been locked away for some forty years."--USA Today "Bobby Kennedy, who was assassinated during his 1968 presidential campaign, is remembered for his antiwar stance and for standing up for civil rights and against poverty. But Tye ("Superman") shows how RFK was not always the progressive hero but a work in progress--after all, Kennedy worked for Joseph McCarthy for a spell. Tye's pages on the assassination are heart-wrenching."--New York Post "This biography will appeal not only to those wanting a portrait of a dynamic idealist, but also to those seeking to understand the emotions of the times in which he lived."--Henry A. Kissinger
He was "Good Bobby," who, as his brother Ted eulogized him, "saw wrong and tried to right it . . . saw suffering and tried to heal it." And "Bad Bobby," the ruthless and manipulative bully of countless conspiracy theories. Thomas's unvarnished but sympathetic and fair-minded portrayal is packed with new details about Kennedy's early life and his behind-the-scenes machinations, including new revelations about the 1960 and 1968 presidential campaigns, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and his long struggles with J. Edgar Hoover and Lyndon Johnson.
In Chris Matthews’s New York Times bestselling portrait of Robert F. Kennedy, “Readers witness the evolution of Kennedy’s soul. Through tragedy after tragedy we find the man humanized” (Associated Press). With his bestselling biography Jack Kennedy, Chris Matthews profiled of one of America’s most beloved Presidents and the patriotic spirit that defined him. Now, with Bobby Kennedy, Matthews provides “insight into [Bobby’s] spirit and what drove him to greatness” (New York Journal of Books) in his gripping, in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at one of the great figures of the American twentieth century. Overlooked by his father, and overshadowed by his war-hero brother, Bobby Kennedy was a perpetual underdog. When he had the chance to become a naval officer like his older brother, Bobby turned it down, choosing instead to join the Navy as a common sailor. It was a life-changing experience that led him to connect with voters from all walks of life: young and old, black and white, rich and poor. They were the people who turned out for him in his 1968 campaign. RFK would prove himself to be the rarest of politicians—both a pragmatist who knew how to get the job done and an unwavering idealist who could inspire millions. Drawing on extensive research and interviews, Matthews pulls back the curtain on the private world of Robert Francis Kennedy. Matthew illuminates the important moments of his life: from his early years and his start in politics, to his crucial role as attorney general in his brother’s administration and, finally, his tragic run for president. This definitive book brings Bobby Kennedy to life like never before.
“Piercing and painstakingly researched, it’s political history written right.”—New York magazine The Last Campaign is Thurston Clarke’s bestselling, definitive account of Robert Kennedy’s exhilarating and tragic 1968 campaign for president: it is a revelatory, resonant, vivid, and moving narrative history. After John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Robert Kennedy—formerly Jack’s no-holds-barred political warrior—had almost lost hope. He was haunted by his brother’s murder, and by the nation’s seeming inabilities to solve its problems of race, poverty, and the war in Vietnam. Bobby sensed the country’s pain, and when he announced that he was running for president, the country united behind his hopes. Over the action-packed eighty-two days of his campaign, Americans were inspired by Kennedy’s promise to lead them toward a better time. With new research, interviews, and an intimate sense of Kennedy, The Last Campaign goes right to the heart of America’s deepest despairs—and most fiercely held dreams—and tells us more than we had understood before about this complicated man and the heightened personal, racial, political, and national dramas of his times.
Private papers, letters, and journals shed new light on Kennedy family relationships and underlie an account of Robert Kennedy's private and public lives, the forces that shaped him, and his impact on the United States.
An engaging social history that reveals the critical role Pullman porters played in the struggle for African American civil rights When George Pullman began recruiting Southern blacks as porters in his luxurious new sleeping cars, the former slaves suffering under Jim Crow laws found his offer of a steady job and worldly experience irresistible. They quickly signed up to serve as maid, waiter, concierge, nanny, and occasionally doctor and undertaker to cars full of white passengers, making the Pullman Company the largest employer of African American men in the country by the 1920s. In the world of the Pullman sleeping car, where whites and blacks lived in close proximity, porters developed a unique culture marked by idiosyncratic language, railroad lore, and shared experience. They called difficult passengers "Mister Charlie"; exchanged stories about Daddy Jim, the legendary first Pullman porter; and learned to distinguish generous tippers such as Humphrey Bogart from skinflints like Babe Ruth. At the same time, they played important social, political, and economic roles, carrying jazz and blues to outlying areas, forming America's first black trade union, and acting as forerunners of the modern black middle class by virtue of their social position and income. Drawing on extensive interviews with dozens of porters and their descendants, Larry Tye reconstructs the complicated world of the Pullman porter and the vital cultural, political, and economic roles they played as forerunners of the modern black middle class. Rising from the Rails provides a lively and enlightening look at this important social phenomenon.
The definitive biography of the most dangerous demagogue in American history, based on first-ever review of his personal and professional papers, medical and military records, and recently unsealed transcripts of his closed-door Congressional hearings In the long history of American demagogues, from Huey Long to Donald Trump, never has one man caused so much damage in such a short time as Senator Joseph McCarthy. We still use “McCarthyism” to stand for outrageous charges of guilt by association, a weapon of polarizing slander. From 1950 to 1954, McCarthy destroyed many careers and even entire lives, whipping the nation into a frenzy of paranoia, accusation, loyalty oaths, and terror. When the public finally turned on him, he came crashing down, dying of alcoholism in 1957. Only now, through bestselling author Larry Tye’s exclusive look at the senator’s records, can the full story be told. Demagogue is a masterful portrait of a human being capable of immense evil, yet beguiling charm. McCarthy was a tireless worker and a genuine war hero. His ambitions knew few limits. Neither did his socializing, his drinking, nor his gambling. When he finally made it to the Senate, he flailed around in search of an agenda and angered many with his sharp elbows and lack of integrity. Finally, after three years, he hit upon anti-communism. By recklessly charging treason against everyone from George Marshall to much of the State Department, he became the most influential and controversial man in America. His chaotic, meteoric rise is a gripping and terrifying object lesson for us all. Yet his equally sudden fall from fame offers reason for hope that, given the rope, most American demagogues eventually hang themselves.
“A fascinating, elegiac account” of the bond between two of the Civil Rights Era’s most important leaders—from the journalist and author of Strange Fruit (Chicago Tribune). With vision and political savvy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy set the United States on a path toward fulfilling its promise of liberty and justice for all. In The Promise and the Dream, Margolick examines their unique bond, both in life and in their tragic assassinations, just sixty-two days apart in 1968. Through original interviews, oral histories, FBI files, and previously untapped contemporaneous accounts, Margolick offers a revealing portrait of these two men and the mutual assistance, awkwardness, antagonism, and admiration that existed between them. MLK and RFK cut distinct but converging paths toward lasting change. Even when they weren’t interacting directly, they monitored and learned from one another. Their joint story, a story each man took pains to hide during their lives, is not just gripping history but a window into the challenges we continue to face in America. Complemented by award-winning historian Douglas Brinkley’s foreword and more than eighty revealing photos by the foremost photojournalists of the period, The Promise and the Dream offers a compelling look at one of the most consequential but misunderstood relationships in our nation’s history.
Books about the Kennedys are legion. Yet missing until now has been the exploration of the bond between Jack and Bobby, and the part that it played in their rise and fall. Eight years apart in age, they were wildly different in temperament and sensibility. Jack was the born leader—charismatic, ironic, capable of extraordinary growth and reach, yet also pathologically reckless. Bobby was the fearless, hardworking Boy Scout—unafraid of dirty work and ruthless about protecting his brother and destroying their enemies. Jack, it was said, was the first Irish Brahman, Bobby the last Irish Puritan. As Mahoney demonstrates with brilliant clarity in this impeccably documented, magisterial book, the Kennedys lived their days of power in dangerous, trackless territory. The revolution in Cuba had created a poisonous cauldron of pro- and anti-Castro forces, the CIA, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, and the Mafia. Mahoney gives us Jack and Bobby in all their hubris and humanity, youthfulness and fatalism. Here is American history as it unfolds. The Kennedy Brothers is a fresh and masterful account of the men whose legacy continues to hold the American imagination. Originally published under the title Sons and Brothers.
A groundbreaking account of how Robert F. Kennedy transformed horror into hope between 1963 and 1966, with style and substance that has shaped American politics ever since. On November 22nd, 1963, Bobby Kennedy received a phone call that altered his life forever. The president, his brother, had been shot. JFK would not survive. In The Revolution of Robert Kennedy, journalist John R. Bohrer focuses in intimate and revealing detail on Bobby Kennedy's life during the three years following JFK's assassination. Torn between mourning the past and plotting his future, Bobby was placed in a sudden competition with his political enemy, Lyndon Johnson, for control of the Democratic Party. No longer the president's closest advisor, Bobby struggled to find his place within the Johnson administration, eventually deciding to leave his Cabinet post to run for the U.S. Senate, and establish an independent identity. Those overlooked years of change, from hardline Attorney General to champion of the common man, helped him develop the themes of his eventual presidential campaign. The Revolution of Robert Kennedy follows him on the journey from memorializing his brother's legacy to defining his own. John R. Bohrer's rich, insightful portrait of Robert Kennedy is biography at its best--inviting readers into the mind and heart of one of America's great leaders.
Based on interviews with some of his closest associates, a portrait of the thirty-fifth president discusses his privileged childhood, military service, struggles with a life-threatening disease, and career in politics.
Eppridge followed Kennedy for Life magazine during his early campaign days in 1966, up to his untimely death. Dynamic images of the public Kennedy are combined with rare glimpses of private moments.
In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Robert Francis Kennedy’s death, an inspiring collection of his most famous speeches accompanied by commentary from notable historians and public figures. Twenty-five years after Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, RFK: His Words for Our Times, a celebration of Kennedy’s life and legacy, was published to enormous acclaim. Now, a quarter century later, this classic volume has been thoroughly edited and updated. Through his own words we get a direct and intimate perspective on Kennedy’s views on civil rights, social justice, the war in Vietnam, foreign policy, the desirability of peace, the need to eliminate poverty, and the role of hope in American politics. Here, too, is evidence of the impact of those he knew and worked with, including his brother John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez, among others. The tightly curated collection also includes commentary about RFK’s legacy from major historians and public figures, among them Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Eric Garcetti, William Manchester, Elie Wiesel, and Desmond Tutu. Assembled with the full cooperation of the Kennedy family, RFK: His Words for Our Times is a potent reminder of Robert Kennedy’s ability to imagine a greater America—a faith and vision we could use today.
"A minor classic in its laconic, spare, compelling evocation by a participant of the shifting moods and maneuvers of the most dangerous moment in human history."—Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. During the thirteen days in October 1962 when the United States confronted the Soviet Union over its installation of missiles in Cuba, few people shared the behind-the-scenes story as it is told here by the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy. In this unique account, he describes each of the participants during the sometimes hour-to-hour negotiations, with particular attention to the actions and views of his brother, President John F. Kennedy. In a new foreword, the distinguished historian and Kennedy adviser Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., discusses the book's enduring importance and the significance of new information about the crisis that has come to light, especially from the Soviet Union.
In A Lie Too Big to Fail, longtime Kennedy researcher (of both JFK and RFK) Lisa Pease lays out, in meticulous detail, how witnesses with evidence of conspiracy were silenced by the Los Angeles Police Department; how evidence was deliberately altered and, in some instances, destroyed; and how the justice system and the media failed to present the truth of the case to the public. Pease reveals how the trial was essentially a sham, and how the prosecution did not dare to follow where the evidence led. A Lie Too Big to Fail asserts the idea that a government can never investigate itself in a crime of this magnitude. Was the convicted Sirhan Sirhan a willing participant? Or was he a mind-controlled assassin? It has fallen to independent researchers like Pease to lay out the evidence in a clear and concise manner, allowing readers to form their theories about this event. Pease places the history of this event in the context of the era and provides shocking overlaps between other high-profile murders and attempted murders of the time. Lisa Pease goes further than anyone else in proving who likely planned the assassination, who the assassination team members were, and why Kennedy was deemed such a threat that he had to be taken out before he became President of the United States.
A Kirkus Best Book of 2013 A revelatory, minute-by-minute account of JFK’s last hundred days that asks what might have been Fifty years after his death, President John F. Kennedy’s legend endures. Noted author and historian Thurston Clarke argues that the heart of that legend is what might have been. As we approach the anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, JFK’s Last Hundred Days reexamines the last months of the president’s life to show a man in the midst of great change, finally on the cusp of making good on his extraordinary promise. Kennedy’s last hundred days began just after the death of two-day-old Patrick Kennedy, and during this time, the president made strides in the Cold War, civil rights, Vietnam, and his personal life. While Jackie was recuperating, the premature infant and his father were flown to Boston for Patrick’s treatment. Kennedy was holding his son’s hand when Patrick died on August 9, 1963. The loss of his son convinced Kennedy to work harder as a husband and father, and there is ample evidence that he suspended his notorious philandering during these last months of his life. Also in these months Kennedy finally came to view civil rights as a moral as well as a political issue, and after the March on Washington, he appreciated the power of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., for the first time. Though he is often depicted as a devout cold warrior, Kennedy pushed through his proudest legislative achievement in this period, the Limited Test Ban Treaty. This success, combined with his warming relations with Nikita Khrushchev in the wake of the Cuban missile crisis, led to a détente that British foreign secretary Sir Alec Douglas- Home hailed as the “beginning of the end of the Cold War.” Throughout his presidency, Kennedy challenged demands from his advisers and the Pentagon to escalate America’s involvement in Vietnam. Kennedy began a reappraisal in the last hundred days that would have led to the withdrawal of all sixteen thousand U.S. military advisers by 1965. JFK’s Last Hundred Days is a gripping account that weaves together Kennedy’s public and private lives, explains why the grief following his assassination has endured so long, and solves the most tantalizing Kennedy mystery of all—not who killed him but who he was when he was killed, and where he would have led us.
The idea for this book came to Larry Tye as he traveled overseas as a reporter for the Boston Globe. In each city he visited he was intrigued by a reawakening of practice and spirit of the long repressed Jewish community. And the more communities he saw close-up, the clearer it became to him that the Jewish world was being reshaped and revitalized in ways that were not reflected in what he was reading about the disappearing diaspora and the vanishing Jews of America. The result is Home Lands, an narrative that tells the story of the new Jewish diaspora. Tye picked seven Jewish communities from Boston to Buenos Aires and Dusseldorf to Dnepropetrovsk deep in the Ukraine, and in each he zeroes in on a single family or congregation whose tale reflects the wider community's history and current situation. He met each community's leaders, talked with their scores of young people and old, and went with them to High Holiday services and Sabbath celebrations. The first impression that emerges from his travels is each city's uniqueness. Far more striking than the differences, however, is the unity. Jews all over the world still have enough customs and rituals in common for outsiders to see them as part of the same people, and for them to define themselves that way. It is that new comfort level, that sense of finally feel comfortable in the lands where they are living, that is at the heart of this engrossing book. Readers' eyes will be opened to how Germany, just a generation after the genocide, has the world's fastest-growing Jewish population; how the Jews of Buenos Aires have carved a place for themselves in a land that also gave refuge to Nazi henchmen like Adolph Eichman, and how Ireland is home to a tight-knit Jewish community that, remarkably, has produced Jewish Lord Mayors in Belfast, Cork and, twice from the same family, in Dublin. In Boston, Tye tells the story of his own family, whose roots run deep in the city's Jewish community. Home Lands is a book that is deeply personal even as it sheds light on the larger Jewish experience.
Rapturous in its ability to depict the creative process, Words Without Music allows readers to experience that sublime moment of creative fusion when life merges with art. Biography lovers will be inspired by the story of a precocious Baltimore boy, the son of a music-shop owner, who entered college at age fifteen, before traveling to Paris to study under the legendary Nadia Boulanger; Glass devotees will be fascinated by the stories behind Einstein on the Beach and Satyagraha, among so many other works. Whether recalling his experiences working at Bethlehem Steel, traveling in India, driving a cab in 1970s New York, or his professional collaborations with the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Ravi Shankar, Robert Wilson, Doris Lessing, and Martin Scorsese, Words Without Music affirms the power of music to change the world.