cover image Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon

Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon

Larry Tye. Random House, $32 (608p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9334-9

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. [em]Agent: Jill Kneerim, Kneerim & Williams. (July) [/em]