The Kennedys have always been an object of fascination and scrutiny, whether it's JFK’s 1963 assassination, Ted’s bad (and illegal) behavior, or the wrongly forgotten Rosemary. But with a family history marked by such tragedy and scandal, perhaps Robert Kennedy, much like his older brother, was one of its brightest spots. Though he did share some similarities with John—both were liberal-leaning and largely beloved by the public—Bobby was a man and politician all his own. Childhood shyness developed into a sometimes intimidating ferocity in adulthood. As author David Halberstam describes in his biography, this made him different from others of his stature—more emotional, intense, and against the state of American institutions. It was Bobby who understood the need for change in the establishment, and who could channel that understanding into effective action.
Robert Kennedy was many things: the seventh child in a renowned family dynasty, a New York senator, a U.S. attorney general, and a presidential campaign manager. But he was also an advocate for the poor and for civil rights, which earned him the support of the disenfranchised. His promise of a better, more stable future was welcome after the rocky 1960s, and the announcement of his presidential run was received with high hopes.
That promise of a brighter future ultimately went unfulfilled. Following a victory in the California Democratic primary, Bobby was shot and killed by 24-year-old Sirhan Bishara Sirhan on June 5, 1968. At only 42, he left behind a legacy that went beyond his family name—particularly a desire to help the less fortunate, now a pillar of American liberalism.
David Halberstam, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, profiles Robert and his impact on the United States in The Unfinished Odyssey of Robert Kennedy. The following excerpt offers intimate insight into Robert’s character and more details on what set him apart from so many other politicians.
Click here to read an excerpt of The Unfinished Odyssey of Robert Kennedy, and then download the book.
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Featured photo of Robert Kennedy: Wikipedia