Fabulous book! This is the most complete and comprehensive account of the ill-fated 1968 Presidential campaign of RFK ever written. All the speeches, campaign stops and strategy meetings are discussed in detail as well as an analysis of RFK's platform and the deteriorating political relationship with fellow Democratic candidate Eugene McCarthy are vividly covered...Witcover really puts the reader right into the campaign and it's never more evident than when the assasination and subsequent hospital stay and funeral are covered. Most books about this campaign cover just the campaign details or the assasination and none cover completely all the post assasination details like this book does (i.e. we hear about how 3 people are injured/killed in the funeral train procession). Finally, Witcover's conclusions about Kennedy's policies and speculation about his possible Presidency are right on target. Overall, this is an essential book in understanding RFK's transformation from the "Ruthless Cannonball" into a caring/[...] person who very well would have been President...highly recommended.
Hop on board the 1968 Campaign Train! All aboard! The train will be making nationwide stops. It's the Equal Opportunity Train! Join Robert Kennedy and supporters as he makes stops across country during his 1968 Presidential Campaign. Tagged by detractors as being ruthless, the Senator's supporters lighten the charge by doing a parody of the "Wabash Cannonball," called the "Ruthless Cannonball." Robert Kennedy, then a senator, had lived with the charge of ruthlessness since his days as a young attorney prosecuting Teamsters and mafiosi. In fairness, the Senator does not appear to be ruthless. He appears to be a very determined, committed, goal oriented, compassionate and often driven man. He was the man who was credited with helping unify groups of disenfranchised persons; he was the advocate and voice for many. Witcover's clear, precise writing literally places his readers on board that 1968 campaign train. In reading this book, one almost wants to cheer, "Hop on board the campaign train! Next stop, VICTORY!" Sadly, the last stop was in Los Angeles the night of June 5, 1968 when Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated. This book does an excellent job of discussing the tragic aftermath of the Senator's assassination and yet the question will always remain -- what would this truly good man have accomplished had he lived to be elected president in 1968?
As previous reviewers have correctly stated, this is still the best book on the Presidential campaign of Robert Kennedy. Written immediately after the fact, it captures the zeitgeist as only a document from the heart of an event can -- yet at the same time, it achieves a genuinely historical perspective, assessing that unbelievable time before the mythologizing set in, as it had to & did. I was between 9th &10th grade that summer, eagerly following RFK's campaign & filled with the same hopes so many others had -- that he might end the horror of the war in Vietnam, that he might actually address the terrible racial inequities & injustices tearing the country apart, that he might somehow make the nation whole. That's a monstrous burden for anyone to have to carry, but RFK did it with considerable grace. If he had lived & had been elected, no doubt there would have been political compromises -- there always are -- but I still feel the country would have gone in a better direction.
Of course, it wasn't to be. Witcover's final chapters dealing with RFK's death & the period of national mourning that followed are heartbreakingly accurate & powerful, capturing the shattered feeling so many of us had at that awful time. For those not even born then, this is the book you need to understand not just what happened, but how it affected the national soul -- not only in grief or loss, either, as many people felt no such emotions at RFK's death, but essentially rejoiced at the elimination of someone they considered an enemy, just as they had a couple of months earlier, when Martin Luther King was murdered. It still seems impossible that so much happened in such a short period of time ...