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

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

Author: Thurston Clarke
Publisher: Henry Holt
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 272
Cover Price: $ 25.00

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This work is the definitive account of Robert Kennedy’s exhilarating and tragic 1968 campaign for president—a revelatory history that is especially resonant now.

After John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Robert Kennedy—formerly Jack’s no-holds-barred political warrior—almost lost hope. He was haunted by his brother’s murder, and by the nation’s seeming inabilities to solve its problems of race, poverty, and the war in Vietnam. Bobby sensed the country’s pain, and when he announced that he was running for president, the country united behind his hopes. Over the action-packed eighty-two days of his campaign, Americans were inspired by Kennedy’s promise to lead them toward a better time. And after an assassin’s bullet stopped this last great stirring public figure of the 1960s, crowds lined up along the country’s railroad tracks to say goodbye to Bobby.

With new research, interviews, and an intimate sense of Kennedy, Thurston Clarke provides an absorbing historical narrative that goes right to the heart of America’s deepest despairs—and most fiercely held dreams—and tells us more than we had understood before about this complicated man and the heightened personal, racial, political, and national dramas of his times.

This book ignores the fact that RFK stayed out of the election until Eugene McCarthy demonstrated that Johnson could be defeated. There was no unity in the antiwar movement behind Kennedy, who was seen by many as a late-arriving opportunist.

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Background Information

John F. Kennedy was a hero in World War II, a Senator from Massachusetts, and became the first Catholic President in 1960. Besides the successful assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy, there have been many attempts. Written off as a factor in national politics after losing the California governorship in 1962, Richard Nixon rebuilt his reputation, gained the nomination and won the election in 1968. Robert F. Kennedy belonged to the cabinet of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, and later ran for president only to be himself assassinated in 1968. The United States slid slowly into the position previously held by France in Indochina and became engulfed in a long war in Vietnam.