Robert Kennedy: The Last Campaign

Robert Kennedy: The Last Campaign

by Bill Eppridge
     
 

In March 1968, against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, a painfully divided country, and the weighty legacy of his brother John, Robert F. Kennedy set his sights on the presidency. Risking his political future at the age of forty-two by challenging Lyndon Johnson, Senator Kennedy declared his candidacy and began the difficult task of winning over the American public.… See more details below

Overview

In March 1968, against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, a painfully divided country, and the weighty legacy of his brother John, Robert F. Kennedy set his sights on the presidency. Risking his political future at the age of forty-two by challenging Lyndon Johnson, Senator Kennedy declared his candidacy and began the difficult task of winning over the American public. He spoke clearly and passionately about the desperate need for racial justice, and about the indecency of war, galvanizing support for the growing antiwar movement. His favorite quote was a paraphrase of George Bernard Shaw: "Some men see things as they are and say, why? I dream things that never were and ask, why not?" Bill Eppridge was the staff photographer for Life magazine assigned to follow RFK as he traveled around the states in '68 (and in '66, as Kennedy campaigned for local Democratic candidates); Hays Gorey was the correspondent Time magazine asked to cover the last campaign. Eppridge captured on film the remarkable outpouring of commitment and hope around the country, from the forest of out-stretched hands at every tour stop to the joyous celebrations after the initial primary victories in '68. But here, too, are foreboding glimpses of the opposition and a jolting and unique record of Robert Kennedy's journey through the kitchen of L.A.'s Ambassador Hotel on June 4, 1968 - the night of his assassination. The mourning crowds that greet the funeral train carrying RFK through the countryside for the last time are a moving counterpoint to the almost magical promise of the campaign. They mark a dramatic end to the optimism of the decade. On the 25th anniversary of RFK's death, Bill Eppridge felt it was time to offer the public his long dormant collection of photographs. Both he and Hays Gorey had lived inside Kennedy's campaign and both were at the Ambassador Hotel the night June 4. Gorey's text lends a narrative to the events pictured and provides both an immediate sense of the '60s and an

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Editorial Reviews

Jay Freeman
Camus once speculated that those from society's privileged elites often have a special insight and even empathy for the downtrodden, since they can appreciate the gulf that separates themselves from those less fortunate. If the maxim is true, Robert Kennedy was perhaps the best example in our recent political history. Although he was a relative latecomer to the social activism of the 1960s, Kennedy burned with a compassion and commitment that even his die-hard opponents admitted were genuine. Eppridge, then a staff photographer for "Life", and Gorey, then a correspondent for "Time", covered Kennedy's last campaign, which ended in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen 25 years ago. They show us the familiar Kennedy--tough, abrasive, and outraged by an unwinnable war and the neglect of festering social wounds. But they also show us the less-public Kennedy--gentle, loyal to subordinates, and blessed with a self-effacing sense of humor. As this book makes clear, Kennedy was no political saint, and his faith in the power of government to solve social ills may have been deeply flawed. Yet, it is fascinating and touching to be reminded of a time when Americans were willing to see a bit of the heroic in a politician. Contains 125 photos, 92 of which have never been published before.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780151783205
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
05/25/1993
Pages:
131

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