NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST
History remembers Robert F. Read more...
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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BYTHE 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To capture the full arc of his subject s life, Tye draws on unpublished memoirs, unreleased government files, and fifty-eight boxes of papers that had been under lock and key for the past forty years.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"
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-05-16
- Reviewer: Staff
It is difficult to envision anyone getting Robert F. Kennedy more right than biographer Tye (Satchel) does in this superb book. Tye beautifully captures Kennedy’s contradictions, his emergence from under the hard-to-like father to whom he remained forever loyal, and his growth into a public figure killed by an assassin’s bullet. It’s also hard to imagine another biographer framing the subject any differently: Tye depicts Kennedy’s transformation from a callow, ruthless, hypocritical, “godawful disagreeable” man to his era’s “most nostalgia-wrapped figure” of “transcendent good,” someone who shifted as his nation changed. Tye equitably concedes that Kennedy’s detractors have much reason to be tough on the man, and his clear depiction of Kennedy’s many blemishes is just one of the book’s many fine qualities. Another is its wonderful readability. In the end, Tye’s subject stands forth as an admirable man. Yes, he often failed to level with people, hid his feelings, and pursued vendettas (notably against Lyndon Johnson). But as Tye shows, R.F.K. at the end of his life warranted the faith people put in him and came close to being the person his admirers thought him to be. Agent: Jill Kneerim, Kneerim & Williams. (July)