The Promise and the Dream: The Interrupted Lives of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.
David Margolick. Rosetta Books, $30 (304p) ISBN 978-1-948122-26-9
Vanity Fair editor Margolick (Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock) provides an enlightening perspective on Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., two iconic figures linked in the popular mind by shared agendas and tragic deaths. But Margolick makes it clear that the two men interacted infrequently, especially after President Kennedy’s murder, and had less of the mythologized partnership than a “distant camaraderie.” It was only after King’s assassination, he explains, that “a revisionist mythology about the bond between King and Kennedy” was born that still persists in the popular understanding today. Margolick interweaves the two biographies skillfully and doesn’t shy away from puncturing idealization of 1960s progressivism with warts-and-all depictions of both men and their faults, tempers, and agendas. The paths towards their deaths feel as inevitable as a Greek tragedy—both expected assassin’s bullets, and King had even prepared detailed directives about his funeral. Margolick also makes palpable the inspiration and hope that King and Kennedy provided to millions, despite his reasoned but depressing conclusion: “That two men whose interests and passions overlapped interacted so little is but another illustration of the enduring chasm between the races, one which, for reasons of sentimentality and shame, our culture has every reason to minimize.” This is a valuable contribution to the body of work on 1960s America. Photos. [em](Apr.) [/em]
Reviewed on: 05/07/2018