All This Marvelous Potential: Robert Kennedy’s 1968 Tour of Appalachia

Chicago Review. Mar. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781641600590. $28.99. HIST
On February 13 and 14, 1968, Sen. Robert Kennedy went on a fact-finding mission to eastern Kentucky, one the nation’s most impoverished regions, to determine the success of President Johnson’s War on Poverty. Algeo (Abe and Fido) presents a captivating account of Kennedy’s journey, which ultimately helped him decide to challenge Lyndon B. Johnson for the Democratic presidential nomination. The people who invited Kennedy into their homes and then testified at hearings Kennedy held are the heroes here. They advocated forcefully for environmental concerns and education equality as ways to escape grinding poverty. Among the many colorful figures introduced are Alice Lloyd, founder of Carey Junior College (now Alice Lloyd College); Thomas Duff, a high school student who railed against politicians; and Reverend Lawrence Baldridge, the first local minister to marry an interracial couple. Baldridge concludes that the anger that drove people to support Kennedy at the time now motivates eastern Kentuckians to support Donald Trump.
VERDICT This fast-paced narrative, focusing less on Kennedy and more on local people, will find audiences among those who enjoyed J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy and Tony Horowitz’s Spying on the South.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing