“A multilayered, inspiring portrait of RFK . . . [the] most in-depth look at an extraordinary figure whose transformational story shaped America.”—Joe Scarborough, The Washington Post
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Soon to be a Hulu original series starring Chris Pine. Larry Tye appears on CNN’s American Dynasties: The Kennedys.
“We are in Larry Tye’s debt for bringing back to life the young presidential candidate who . . . almost half a century ago, instilled hope for the future in angry, fearful Americans.”—David Nasaw, The New York Times Book Review
Bare-knuckle operative, cynical White House insider, romantic visionary—Robert F. 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 biography.
History remembers RFK 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 began with his service as counsel to the red-baiting senator Joseph McCarthy. In Bobby Kennedy, Larry Tye peels away layers of myth and misconception 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 Tye draws on unpublished memoirs, unreleased government files, and fifty-eight boxes of papers that had been under lock and key for forty years. He conducted hundreds of interviews with RFK intimates, many of whom have never spoken publicly, including Bobby’s widow, Ethel, and his sister, Jean. Tye’s determination to sift through the tangle of often contradictory opinions means that Bobby Kennedy will stand as the definitive biography about the most complex and controversial member of the Kennedy family.
Praise for Bobby Kennedy
“A compelling story of how idealism can be cultivated and liberalism learned . . . Tye does an exemplary job of capturing not just the chronology of Bobby’s life, but also the sense of him as a person.”—Los Angeles Review of Books
“Captures RFK’s rise and fall with straightforward prose bolstered by impressive research.”—USA Today
“[Tye] has a keen gift for narrative storytelling and an ability to depict his subject with almost novelistic emotional detail.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Nuanced and thorough . . . [RFK’s] vision echoes through the decades.”—The Economist
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Plainspoken and rich with fascinating insight, journalist Larry Tye’s biography of the complicated, charismatic politician is perfect for your vacation bucket list. We learned so much about Bobby Kennedy’s transition from an aide to hard-right senator Joseph McCarthy to the poster child for ‘60s liberal values, and how this transformation reflected the changing face of America. Tye interviewed hundreds of people while writing this book—including Bobby’s ultra-private widow, Ethel—and the details and turns of phrases he’s unearthed make Bobby Kennedy a joy to read.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon
I was just about 7 years old in June of 1968 and have a clear picture of walking into the den of our house in Stony Brook, NY and finding both my parents watching the television and weeping. It would take me years to understand the impact Bobby Kennedy made in the world. This book was an excellent reminder.
Enlightening and invigorating. Tye brings the times and and the man to life in this historical page-turner. When all is said and done, one does indeed admire the hope Bobby Kennedy brought to America in troubled times and wonder what might have been.
A very easy and fascinating read of a real man who had flaws but worked harder than anyone trying to improve the world