Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America” as Want to Read:
The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America

4.26  ·  Rating Details ·  2,586 Ratings  ·  197 Reviews

The definitive account of Robert Kennedyâs exhilarating and tragic 1968 campaign for presidentâ”a revelatory history that is especially resonant now

After John F. Kennedyâs assassination, Robert Kennedyâ”formerly Jackâs no-holds-barred political warriorâ”almost lost hope. He was haunted by his brotherâs murder, and by the nationâs seeming inabilities to solve its prob

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Last Campaign, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Last Campaign

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Vivian Valvano
Oct 12, 2009 Vivian Valvano rated it it was amazing
Bobby Kennedy was one of my idols and heroes. I bought this book as soon as it was published, but just got up the courage to read it recently. It strengthens and cements my beliefs that my beloved country would be a very different, and better, place had Bobby become President. Moreover, it elucidates for me, as much as a book possibly can, that he was a tremendously gifted and sincere human being with more empathy and more desire for justice than anyone else that I have known of in the world of ...more
Reading this was like watching the Titanic leave Southampton in April of 1912. You know exactly what's going to transpire yet you just cannot pull your gaze away. So it was for Senator Robert F. Kennedy in the spring of 1968 when he enters the race for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States.

This is five years after the nadir of the "New Frontier" and four years after Lyndon Johnson embroiled us in the eternal quagmire of what was Vietnam. January, 1968 produced one of
Wonderfully detailed book about Robert Kennedy's tragic 1968 campaign. While Clarke's book describes a Robert Kennedy who is fun, intelligent, sympathetic to minorities' causes (particularly African-Americans' fight for civil rights), as well as occasionally cold and solitary, his book nonetheless sometimes veers towards hero-worshiping. I have nothing against Robert Kennedy, in fact I count him amongst my personal heroes, however, despite my favoritism for Kennedy when I started reading this bo ...more
Feb 02, 2010 Cynda rated it it was amazing
If RFK wasn't already my hero, he would be after reading this book. This really was the last "true" campaign and there has never been another 82 days like this in our history. It's a compelling and fascinating journey made all the more poignant by the inevitable ending. Robert Kennedy is one of history's great what "ifs" in life. He brought us hope, and still brings us hope today, but the yearning is still there, and I think it always will be. America missed out on something great-a politician l ...more
Apr 24, 2009 Richard rated it it was amazing
This was a great book. Because I am old enough to remember what it was like that awful Spring in 1968 when Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered and then Bobby Kennedy, I really appreciated having these events put into context. RFK's final 3 months were really amazing and, of course, beyond heartbreaking. I was only 9 years but I was enamoured with the man. I was living in San Diego on June 5, 1968 and was listening to the radio, following closely the primary results. I feel asleep with it on, kn ...more
Apr 05, 2011 Steven rated it it was amazing
This novel beautifully chronicled the last 82 days of Robert Kennedy’s troubled life. Robert Kennedy, the brother of our 35th President John F. Kennedy was a major political face, and ran against his brother’s successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Robert’s hatred for LBJ fueled his highest ambition, to fulfill his brother’s unfinished work in the White House, and Thurman Clarke tells his audiences Robert’s journey to the high office. On his 82 day journey, Robert’s popularity erupted among the black ...more
Apr 22, 2010 Andre rated it really liked it
First, I must say that I am a fan of narrowly scoped biographies. So much more can be learned by focusing on a small, rather specific, event or period of time as opposed to trying to capture a man or woman's entire life into one book.

By focusing on the 82 days between Bobby Kennedy's announcement that he would run for President and the night of his assassination, Clarke was able to show the ebbs and flows of Kennedy's final days. In this book, we are able to see development of campaign. Through
Mr. Neumann
Dec 07, 2008 Mr. Neumann rated it it was ok
I'd like to write a lengthier review of this book later, after I have an opportunity to meet with my friends to discuss this at our book club (my first ever...apparently I'm all growns up).

Suffice it to say, I did not love this book. In fact, I didn't even like it that much. I felt that most of the book bordered on hero worship, to the point that I could not form an objective opinion about Kennedy's storied '68 campaign.

That said, I ultimately gave "The Last Campaign" three stars rather than 5
Stephen Terrell
Mar 26, 2014 Stephen Terrell rated it it was amazing
Robert F. Kennedy was my first real life hero. As I read this book and moved toward that horrible June 4 evening in Los Angeles, I desperately wanted to somehow reach out and stop RFK from walking toward that kitchen where Sirhan Sirhan was waiting.

Robert Kennedy was so different as a candidate - as a hope for America in a time of domestic turmoil that those who were not living then can not truly understand. Yet RFK could reach across the gap -- touching blacks and George Wallace blue collar sup
John Daly
Nov 09, 2014 John Daly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Robert Kennedy's campaign for the presidency lasted 82 days that included some of the most traumatic moments of the sixties.

Thurston Clarke in this short book examines those 82 days of 1968 campaign and it captivates you instantly and makes you long to hope that maybe it could have been RFK and not Nixon standing on west side of the Capital facing the mall taking the oath on January 20, 1969.

One of the most powerful moments of the book is the descriptions of the events of the night of April 4th
Aug 12, 2009 Jennelle rated it really liked it
This book started out as one of the saddest books I have ever read. I choked back tears a couple times. I have always admired Robert Kennedy in a sort of "on a pedestal" way. This book showed his human side, faults and all. I realize that while he was deeply compasionate about social injustice, he was also a politican. Campaigns, especially those for the highest office in the land, often are laced with the darkest politics, and his campaign was no exception. He was stubborn to a fault and willin ...more
Kristy Miller
If I would give this book 10 stars if I could. This book captures a moment in time, a moment in politics, a moment in history, when America was at a fork in the road; with the war in Vietnam, with race relations, with the economic disparity.
Bobby Kennedy had been known as a ruthless political operative, and the strong-arm of his brother's White House. When he was elected as the senator from New York, he began to differentiate himself from his brother's policies, and pursuing ones that he held d
Mar 23, 2011 Caroline rated it it was amazing
Bobby Kennedy is one of my personal and political heroes. I think if he had lived and been elected President, as I think he would have, he had the potential to be a truly great President, one who really cared about the poor man, the black man, the Native Americans on the reservation. He believed in reconciliation and redemption, in accepting collective guilt and collective responsibility. I think America would have been a better place for a Bobby Kennedy Presidency, I really do. And it's the ult ...more
Dec 18, 2008 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, history
Excellent, excellent book. It was great to get a picture of what the campaign was like, what it meant, and how he got to the place where he wanted to run it. For being such a legendary political celebrity, he really just wanted to help people and fix things, and hated having to play the political and media game to do so (and he often refused to play). The descriptions of his interactions with crowds, and of his trips to the reservations and poor areas where he'd just sit with poor, filthy, starv ...more
Bryan Craig
Apr 23, 2009 Bryan Craig rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
Reviewers have charged Clarke with hero worship regarding his subject RFK. I can understand that, but I think the book is more even handed though. Clarke presents his flaws and RFK's preferred method of campaigning: to the crowds. This methods was effective, but not all the time. I think RFK could have been a more well rounded campaigner if he was more comfortable with TV and working the suburbs.

One thing sticks with me: the power of RFK's message and conviction, a politician that really said wa
Jul 28, 2011 Becca rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
What an amazing politician he was. This book made me depressed that there don't seem to be any politicians today who will fight for what they believe in, and what is morally right, rather than strategizing (Adjustment Bureau, anyone?) and saying what they think will win them the next election. But in the end, it did make me hopeful that it possible. It happened once with Robert Kennedy, it could happen again.
Jun 17, 2015 Cullen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: history fans, politics buffs
Since I was born in the 80's I didn't know much about RFK other than that he was JFK's brother and was assassinated while running for President in 1968. This book did a great job of explaining why he was special and why people loved him so much.

It does not require that you be a political junkie or a child of the 60's - only that you are interested in US history.
Mario Adame
Nov 25, 2015 Mario Adame rated it really liked it
A very quick read with accounts that will interest your heart and mind. RFK was one of a kind leader who touched the lives of millions during his time on earth and even more so today. The author accurately captures RFKs leadership in times when courage was deeply needed.
May 27, 2011 Martha rated it it was amazing
This campaign, and how he kept calling the country back to ethics and principles of justice, amazing. It’s mind-boggling to think how things might have been if he’d survived.
Bill F.
Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill,
With Abraham, Martin and John.

Dion’s “Abraham, Martin and John” is one of at least two songs whose lyrics were altered in-studio due to the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy [D, NY] on June 5, 1968 at 3:16 am Eastern time. As the title suggests, the song was written [by Richard Holler] as a result of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and was a poetic triumvirate
Alana Voth
Nov 23, 2016 Alana Voth rated it it was amazing
A vivid depiction of Robert Kennedy's 82-day campaign for the Democratic nomination in 1968, which culminates with his assassination in the Embassy Ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in L.A.

What struck me throughout the book was how often Kennedy expressed the realization he'd be assassinated. Not if, but when? Yet, he continued his fearless campaign.

An insightful piece of history that every American should read.

The parallels between what was happening in 1968 and what is happening now across ou
Jim Kulhawy
Jun 01, 2011 Jim Kulhawy rated it really liked it
On March 16, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy stood in the United states Senate Caucus Room to annouce his candiadcy for the Presidency. Some called him opportunistic, some called him ruthless, but those people never really understood the struggle that Kennedy had gone through to get to this point.

As early as the fall of 1967, Kennedy had been urged by many to run and oppose President Johnson and his policies. But, Kennedy was worried abiout fracturing the Democratic Party and allowing the Republican ca
Dec 18, 2016 Nora rated it liked it
Factually dense retelling of the last 3 months of Robert Kennedy's campaign and life. Quite historically interesting for someone who wasn't alive when it happened. He was well on his way to becoming president, and our country would have been quite different had he not been assassinated.
Dec 28, 2014 Robert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, biography
Poverty. Consider the last time a mainstream Presidential candidate made the issue of poverty an important part of their campaign. Consider then for a moment how Robert F. Kennedy made it the centerpiece of his campaign in 1968. A campaign that gave hope to millions of Americans in a time where things seemed hopeless and then consider that hope being destroyed by an assassin’s bullet on June 4, 1968 in a hotel in California. The Last Campaign is an apt title for a book that describes the journey ...more
Barbara Ann
very good - amazingly/sadly current
Aug 10, 2008 Ann rated it really liked it
I mostly picked up this book because I attended a rally for RFK when he visited Milwaukee in the spring of 1968 during his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. I don't remember much about it except the crazed atmosphere of extreme adulation, and just how focused he seemed.

Thurston Clarke's thesis is that Robert Kennedy represented the best hope for a politics of reconciliation and compassion, shared responsibility and service to country, at a time when the country was reeling fro
Heather Steed
Feb 19, 2013 Heather Steed rated it really liked it
I started reading this with really no knowledge of the events of 1968. But I really enjoyed this read; I frequently found myself reminded of a handful of people whose political opinions I really value because of how balanced, diplomatic, and rational they are. I found myself wondering (and asking those people I was reminded of) how different our country would be if Kennedy had lived to be elected.

Several things struck me most about the politics of Bobby Kennedy:

He was sincere. I truly believe th
Jul 20, 2015 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a "wow" book on so many levels. For one, the degree of acrimony and division not just in 1960's American politics, but across 1960's America, continually astounds me, and is incredibly well-captured herein. The timing of Bobby Kennedy's campaign provides a window into the Cold War, Vietnam protests, the Civil Rights movement, and more. His 82-day campaign was surrounded by violence - the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr, rioting in 100+ American cities, and finally, his own assassination ...more
Jul 08, 2011 Angie rated it really liked it
An incredibly moving, detailed, and overall sad read because you know there is no happy ending to come.

Is this a piece written by an author that, like many of the reporters that covered the 68 RFK campaign, is slightly smitten with Bobby Kennedy? Absolutely. That shouldn't stop you from reading it. It's a good book, well researched and honest. It leaves you feeling like you want to hop in a Delorian and travel back to '68 for just one happy day mid-campaign so you too can say you were there. Yo
C. B. Miller
Aug 05, 2012 C. B. Miller rated it really liked it
1968: a time it was...

Released at a time that corresponds with both the 40th anniversary of RFK's run and the last presidential election, it make for an engaging read. As Kennedy stated he didn't "...lightly dismiss the dangers and the difficulties...but these are not ordinary times and this is not an ordinary election." True words of the turbulent era. Vietnam was in its 3rd year as far as direct involvement of US combat troops, racial tension and riots continued at home and Americans were look

« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Robert Kennedy: His Life
  • Robert Kennedy and His Times
  • Make Gentle the Life of This World: The Vision of Robert F. Kennedy
  • Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History
  • Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years
  • President Kennedy: Profile of Power
  • The Making of the President 1968
  • Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy
  • The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings: A Five-Generation History of the Ultimate Irish-Catholic Family
  • The Death of a President: November 1963
  • Kennedy and Nixon: The Rivalry That Shaped Postwar America
  • A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan
  • The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope
  • Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House
  • RFK: A Memoir
  • An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963
  • The Selling of the President
  • The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory
Thurston Clarke has written eleven widely acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, including three New York Times Notable Books. His 'Pearl Harbor Ghosts' was the basis for a CBS documentary, and his bestselling 'Lost Hero', a biography of Raoul Wallenberg, was made into an award-winning NBC miniseries.

Clarke's articles have appeared in Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and
More about Thurston Clarke...

Share This Book

“He had used it as the epigram to his 1967 book 'To Seek a Newer World,' and it expressed two pillars of his faith: that everyone has a duty to alleviate suffering, and that no one can live a fully happy life while surrounded by the unaddressed misery of others.” 1 likes
“Unlike most politicians who follow their audience, (Robert) Kennedy tried to lead his.” 0 likes
More quotes…