Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit
There’s a lot of talk about the Star Wars saga as myths for these modern times, and this is no doubt true. But a more powerful, if subtler, myth is that of the Kennedys. Rooted in history, we can’t shrug it off as the creation of some film-school geek. And a myth that was a myth in it’s own day is a strong one, indeed.
America’s Camelot will be with us for a long, long time, but for many, the real hero isn’t Jack, but Brother Bobby. And thus we have Chris Matthews’ new biography.
The main thrust of this new book is a reconciliation of RFK’s two public images – Bobby the ruthless enforcer of his brother’s administration and Bobby the Liberal icon. Bob Kennedy was a personal friend of the witch-hunting Joe McCarthy, a rich little New England brat, and he voted for Ike in ’56. How did that man become the Great Hope of the downtrodden, the weak, the voiceless?
This quick and breezy biography attempts to answer this, tracing Bobby’s life from the small child Joe Kennedy thought a weak and effeminate runt, to Harvard football star, on to enemy of organized crime, Attorney General, then grieving brother, New York Senator, and finally presidential candidate. Like most modern biographies, Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit is an orderly compilation of facts rather than a well-written book. It’s a nice gift for Dad, the armchair historian, or perhaps something a bit more challenging than Candy Crush for the morning train ride, but not much more.
Thankfully, the subject is so engaging I found myself ignoring all of this and flying through, underlining and highlighting and jotting notes in the margins, a good jumping-off point, as it were, for further Kennedy studies. If nothing else, I learned that I want to learn more.
Simon & Schuster