Based on never-before-seen documents, this book chronicles RFK's extraordinary transformation from Cold Warrior to grass roots activist. Palermo focuses on the crucial nexus between '60s social activism and Kennedy's role as national leader, demonstrating how civic groups and individual activists educated him about the conflict in Southeast Asia ...
Based on never-before-seen documents, this book chronicles RFK's extraordinary transformation from Cold Warrior to grass roots activist. Palermo focuses on the crucial nexus between '60s social activism and Kennedy's role as national leader, demonstrating how civic groups and individual activists educated him about the conflict in Southeast Asia and racial and class injustice at home.
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Publishers Weekly, 2001-05-21 During the last years of his life from his Senate election in 1964 to his murder in 1968 Robert F. Kennedy underwent a profound transformation, according to Palermo in this sympathetic but not uncritical study. Known primarily during his brother's presidency as a ruthless political operative with few obvious populist sentiments, Kennedy emerged during this later time as the passionate, compassionate and effective leader of a diverse coalition of grassroots organizations encompassing antiwar protestors, working-class whites, African Americans and others. The arc of Kennedy's odyssey forms Palermo's story. Drawing on a wide array of correspondence and documents, many previously unseen, Palermo portrays Kennedy as a person with an enormous ability to learn and to empathize. Cautious at first in his opposition to the Vietnam War, through conversation and correspondence with both scholars and common soldiers Kennedy soon turned solidly against the conflict and against a sitting president, Lyndon Johnson. (The story of the relationship between the two men, as well as that of Kennedy's interactions with Eugene McCarthy, whom he opposed in the 1968 Democratic presidential primaries, is well told here.) Similarly, Kennedy became ever sharper in his critiques of racism and economic inequality, ever more aligned with those he saw as disenfranchised. Yet he was able to maintain ties with mainstream politicians such as Mayor Daley of Chicago. Tragically, this fragile politics of inclusion could not survive Kennedy's death. Palermo, who teaches at Cornell and has written for Peace & Change and other journals, paints a vivid portrait of the problems and promise of the 1960s and the way Kennedy shaped and was shaped by that era. Photos. (June) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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