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Robert Kennedy: His Life
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Robert Kennedy: His Life

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  1,821 ratings  ·  99 reviews
Traditionally, Robert F. Kennedy has been viewed as either the ?Good Bobby, ? who saw wrong and tried to right it, or the ?Bad Bobby? of countless conspiracy theories. Evan Thomas's achievement is to realize RFK as a human being, to bring to life an extraordinarily complex man who was at once kind and cruel, devious and honest, fearful and brave. The portrait that emerges ...more
Published October 1st 2006 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 2000)
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Andrew Smith
Having previously read An Unfinished Life John F. Kennedy 19171963 I have to say it was excellent preparation for this book. If you’re starting from scratch on the Kennedy clan I'd go as far as to say it's essential pre-reading. The JFK bio provides much of the family background missing from this book and also provides the big picture on events impacting Robert Kennedy (RFK) during the period JFK was president. This knowledge helps flesh out the detail provided in this book - it's very much a co ...more
I think Bobby would have been a good president, better than his brother, largely because Bobby cared. JFK was the life-long politician, whereas Bobby was more the crusading type, a reformer. I think Bobby would really have tried to make life better for the poor, the oppressed, the dispossessed, because he identified so strongly with them. I think he would have been a good president. This is a wonderful biography, very well-written and researched. It really shows Bobby at both his best and his wo ...more
I gave this book 4 stars based on my fascination with the content. it was all the more fascinating because I've been reading and watching other material from the same era (e.g. Tom Brokaw's 1968 dvd, Vietnam History Channel dvd's, JFK speeches). Robert Kennedy was a complicated person and played more of a behind-the-scenes role in Washington, working for his brother, doing serious reading and contemplating all his life, becoming a senator for New York. He preferred making phone calls to key peop ...more
I will admit prior to writing this that I am incredibly biased on this book. Robert Kennedy is my number one role model. In this book Evan Thomas furthers this admiration and also opens your eyes to how intelligent, and daring Robert Kennedy actually was. A bold and loyal man, R.F.K was not merely attached to his job and family for business and political reasons, but emotionally. He seems to have been a man who acted as he saw best for the betterment of society rather than self needs. Very good ...more
Jay G
I learned that the personal is political. And, especially, vice-versa. All of the back stories in this book didn't seem like front-page headlines, nor tabloid rumor coverage. They came off as thoroughly researched events, built and presented as solid theory where appropriate.

One odd thing with this book is that the coverage of JFK's life seems well removed. I realize one of the points of chronicling RFK's life is pointing out his importance outside the context of JFK. But the author seemed to ov
Walt Bertelsen
If you're a child of the 60s (admittedly or not), this book will help clear your head about the real Bobby...he may have not been the deepest light on the intellectual bookshelf, but he genuinely showed a characteristic that is not often seen in a politician: honest effort to figure out who he is, what's important, and what's worth fighting for.
Evan Thomas' bio goes deep into examining RFK. Yes, the contradictions that we saw in him are still there, for they seem to have reflected his reality.
Matt Maples
It's difficult for me to write this review after completing the book. This book finished with what I believe to be one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the United States. The end leaves you with questions that are simply impossible to know, what if? What if RFK had survived? What would this country look like. Evan Thomas does a great job of evaluating and explaining the complex figure that was Robert F. Kennedy. He was many different things including a romantic, a very caring man, but ...more
A fascinating look into Kennedy's psyche, so strongly formed in his childhood by a desperate search for attention, affection and approval from his family (especially his father) that served as a motivation throughout his life. While at times sad, such dedication to his family, despite their having ignored and condescended to him his whole life, is admirable. Interesting insight into some of the Kennedy family secrets and a more down-to-earth view of the family that belies it's larger-than-life p ...more
Roger DeBlanck
As far as biographies go, this is an incredibly thoughtful and passionate book. Full of unforgettable anecdotes and glimpses that are used as springboards to probe the mindset of Robert F. Kennedy, each chapter’s title focuses on a descriptive aspect of what made RFK both a complex and fascinating persona. For example, Thomas labels his chapters “Moralist,” “Manipulator,” “Protector,” “Mourner,” and “Searcher” to name a few among the twenty-one total. The book is commanding and comprehensive in ...more
Sarah Finch
Clear-eyed, lucid, and as impartial as any book can hope to be when the subject is a Kennedy, Evan Thomas somehow compresses RFK's remarkable life into a book that is simultaneously dense and a quick page-turner. Thomas mostly resists the urge to psychoanalyze his complicated subject and instead paints an unvarnished portrait of a man who has the capacity, writ large, for shrewdness and sensitivity, ambition and humility, compassion for the oppressed and blindness to his own privilege. Shying aw ...more
La vie de RFK est l’histoire de l’un des grands "what if’s" de l’histoire américaine. Que s’est-il passé s’il avait été élu président en 68’ ? Aurait-il pu sauver l’Amérique de l’enfer vietnamien ? La biographie ne se préoccupe pas trop de cette question, mais essaye plutôt de donner un portrait définitif d’une personne qui a clairement souffert du complexe du petit frère et qui a tout fait pour obtenir la même attention du père qu’a eu ses deux frères Joe Jr. et JFK.

De loin, la partie la plus
Jeb I.
The finest political biography I've ever read. Objective, cutting through the Kennedy lore, which makes the memory of RFK human, and that much more admirable. The last of his kind for sure.
An extremely balanced Kennedy biography, as someone who has read a range of books this is by the best for someone looking for the further historical purpose-for example Thomas goes to great lengths to counter claims made by both the left and the right about Kennedy. He refers to Arthur Schlesingers biography of Kennedy throughout to show the differences in the two books-this isn't to say that Thomas is unfair to Kennedy-he simply hit some harder punches.

If you want a detailed, balanaced, thoroug
Highly recommended read. Fascinating, insightful biography. One of the great "What ifs?" Perhaps greater than the question : "What if JFK had lived?" JFK was much more the consensus politician, more cautious. RFK became more the man of conviction - chastened and humanised by his brother's death, he seemed determined to find his niche in genuine support of the US's underprivileged, irrespective of race - and bring an end to the war in Vietnam. Whilst both were clearly personal tragedies, quite pr ...more
"This is the story of unpromising by who died as he was becoming a great man. There was very little about young Robert F. Kennedy that foretold a grand or tragic destiny. Overshadowed by his more glamorous and accomplished siblings as a little boy, he was small, clumsy, and fearful. His father slighted him, while hovering about the older children, particularly Joe Jr. and John. Desperate to win his father's attention and respect, Kennedy became a hard man for a long while, covering over his sens ...more
If I had to pick a political person to be one of my idols in life, it could very well be RFK and Evan Thomas's biography does an excellent job humanizing the man that was frequently called a "demagogue". The Kennedy Myth of Camelot has been espoused an nauseam but Thomas dispels a few myths regarding RFK and some of the more controversial aspects to his legacy.

The wiretapping of MLK and the obsession with Cuba were both dark marks as well as occasional mood swings and a romanticized view of hero
By the time I'd finished "Robert Kennedy: A Life" by Evan Thomas, it had reinforced all my anti-Kennedy impulses I'm afraid.

In this book RFK is protrayed as a really virulent anti-communist bully (his family were particularly close with Joe McCarthy, RFK went to his funeral) who was incapable of dealing with the concept of a communist regime being less than 100 miles from the American coast (and who willingly gave the CIA permission to go after Castro, no questions asked).

In addition, this book
It was very interesting book. I think what most people need to keep in mind is that there is still a Kennedy-mystique around today. The author (Evan Thomas) tried to bring insight with Robert, but also keep the mystique. The problem was that by showing the truth behind Robert, the author ended up shattering certain myths that surround the Kennedys. I would say that my major problem with the writing was that Mr. Thomas did not give background on certain events. There wasn't even any background to ...more
Nov 03, 2007 Jen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those with an interest in the Cold War, the mafia, political intrigue, or the Kennedys.
This isn't the kind of book I would generally pick up, as I'm not an avid biography reader. However, my father loaned me his copy, and so I gave it a go.

It was fascinating.

I'll admit, I'm of the generation that doesn't know much about the Kennedys, beyond the whole "Camelot" legend that they built up and the usual dim knowledge of the conspiracy theories. So it was doubly intriguing to read about the leftover little brother; the one who got rotten grades and had a terrible temper, and whom every
P. Christopher Colter
This is a well-balanced, well-researched biography of a complex but ultimately admirable man. The recent attention paid to the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination spurred my interest in brother Robert, about whom I knew very little. Evan Thomas' biography of RFK, published in the late 1990s, is highly readable and very even-handed. Like most people, RFK was not a two dimensional figure, but complex and multi-faceted. He could be be a crusading advocate for the downtrodden at one point, and e ...more
This book gave me a completely new perspective on Robert Kennedy's life and legacy. Here was a man who changed his views from his experience and then tried to do his utmost to make a difference. Had he lived RFK may have been elected President in 68 and world history since may have been entirely different and dare I say better. When RFK was assassinated, we lost a good man and a potentially great President.
A great book about a complex and, oftentimes, confusing man. This books does not shy away from some of the more controversial points - wiretaps of MLK, involvement with the CIA over Castro assassination plots, friendship with McCarthy - but does not dwell on them. A good read to learn more about a man who had to overcome his own insecurity to finally come into his own, albeit shortly before his tragic murder
John Daly
2 down...38 to go...

After reading Manchester's Death of a President and Thurston Clarke's The Last Campaign I wanted to read a book focused solely on Bobby.

Evan Thomas does a great job of moving the book along and not spending too much time on the early years. The second half of the book is focused on Bobby's recovery from his brothers death and how he redefined himself.

The 68' campaign is covered but if your looking for more details Clarke's The Last Campaign written after this book is the bet
Charlie Schnell
This book broke down some of my own myths of Robert Kennedy. Previous reading on his life had me thinking he was a moral giant. Arthur Schlesinger's book; "Robert Kennedy and His Times", while well written, was not a true representation of RFK. Schlesinger was too close to RFK to give us a good representation of RFK's faults. The politics of his generation and his methods left a sour taste. At the same with Mr. Thomas' book we still understand the passion that some people felt for RFK. In the en ...more
Evan Thomas wrote an excellent biography of a man mythologized, even before his own depth, in ways that often overshadow the reality of who Robert F. Kennedy actually was, and what he truly believed.

The man was complex: a Cold War hawk who helped save the world during the Cuban Missile Crisis by putting himself in the shoes of the Soviets; a white politician with unusual sympathy for minorities and the poor who was skeptical about government programs used to solve social ills; and a man capable
It's hard to capture a person like Robert F. Kennedy. Always pushed into the background in favor of his older siblings, he stayed away from the spotlight. Pushed to the forefront only by tragic circumstances, Evan Thomas manages to outline the life of a beloved public figure ensconced in tragedy. A "what could have been" for many historians, Bobby is a what if that will never have resolution. Thomas brilliantly captures him as a person, the struggles of his position, and though he obviously enjo ...more
Excellent depiction of the life of this truly special man who couls have been the catalyst for the changes we needed...but unfortunately will never know. Bobby we hardly knew ye!
Tom Tracy
Robert Kennedy carried the weight of his brother 's presidency on his shoulders, and JFK's death haunted him for the rest of his life.
G.H. Monroe
This was a comprevensive account of what it was like to be "A Kennedy" in RFK's formative years. It was quite amazing to realize how timid this lion of Federal Justice started out to be. I found it quite interesting that someone who struggled academically in college and high school would grow into someone with a thirst for knowledge who ultimately, ended up being one of the critical minds in the room at what could have been one of the defining moments in human history.

If you are not interested i
Chaédria LaBouvier
I thought that it was a good biography of Robert Kennedy, but more concerned with the politics of his time than with his personal life. There are very few mentions of his marriage with Ethel or his relationship with his children. A great look at RFK, the man in the middle of history in the 1960s and his times, but not a great deal on the personal and private RFK. However, it does do a great job in the beginning of describing how the sensitive and often neglected "runt" of the litter channeled th ...more
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  • Robert Kennedy and His Times
  • Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years
  • The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America
  • Make Gentle the Life of This World: The Vision of Robert F. Kennedy
  • Sons & Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy
  • President Kennedy: Profile of Power
  • Jackie, Ethel, Joan: Women of Camelot
  • Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy
  • An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963
  • Kennedy
  • RFK: A Memoir
  • Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House
  • The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings: A Five-Generation History of the Ultimate Irish-Catholic Family
  • JFK: Reckless Youth
  • The Kennedy Women: The Saga of an American Family
  • Kennedy and Nixon: The Rivalry That Shaped Postwar America
  • The Dark Side of Camelot
  • Jefferson Davis, American
Evan Thomas has been assistant managing editor at Newsweek since 1991. He is the magazine’s lead writer on major news stories and the author of many longer features, including Newsweek’s special behind-the-scenes issues on presidential elections and more than a hundred cover stories. Thomas was pivotal in spearheading Newsweek’s award-winning coverage on the war on terror from the Washington burea ...more
More about Evan Thomas...
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