Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon

Random. Jul. 2016. 608p. ISBN 9780812993349. $32; ebk. ISBN 9780679645207. BIOG
OrangeReviewStarAs a reporter for the Boston Globe from 1986 to 2001, Tye (Superman) covered the Kennedy family. Here the author presents a captivating account of the political career of Robert F. Kennedy (1925–68), from his years as a zealous communist hunter for Joe McCarthy through the 1968 presidential campaign during which he was assassinated at age 42. For this state-of-the-art political biography, Tye conducted 400 interviews with people who worked with Kennedy. He also had access to national archives. The author's admiration for his subject shows, but this is no hagiography. He alludes to Kennedy as the father of dirty political tricks for his assault on Hubert Humphrey in the 1960 election, gives Kennedy mixed reviews for his handling of the 1961 Freedom Riders in Alabama while serving as attorney general, and indicts the senator's memoir Thirteen Days as a self-promoting retelling of the Cuban Missile Crisis. While shedding new light on Kennedy's relationships with Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr., Tye ultimately reveals Kennedy as a work in progress who, by the end of his life, had become a beloved advocate for minorities and the poor.
VERDICT This absorbing narrative would have been even better if Tye included his summation of Kennedy's legacy. It is a worthy successor to Evan Thomas's Robert Kennedy: His Life. [See Prepub Alert, 1/25/16.]
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