Cover image for In love with night : the American romance with Robert Kennedy
In love with night : the American romance with Robert Kennedy
Steel, Ronald.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2000]

Physical Description:
220 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E840.8.K4 S74 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Retracing the life and myth of Robert Kennedy, the author shows how he transformed himself from JFK's right-hand man into a crusader for the poor and down-trodden.

Author Notes

Ronald Steel is a professor of international relations at the University of Southern California, he lives in Los Angeles, California, and Washington, D.C.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Bobby Kennedy's promising and enduring image hardly matches his actual accomplishments but does point to a longing for a liberalism that is compassionate but not indulgent, a liberalism that Kennedy seemed to embody. Historian Steel traces Kennedy's development in a power-obsessed family, particularly his growth from a cunning, abrasive shadow of his older brother to a political figure in his own right. Steel explores Bobby's career as John Kennedy's campaign enforcer, U.S. Attorney General, and later presidential candidate. He examines the contradictions of Bobby's character: an ardent prosecutor who was not above abusing the law, a civil rights supporter who allowed the FBI to investigate the private life of Martin Luther King Jr., a peacemaker but late critic of the war in Vietnam. Steel explores Kennedy's devout beliefs and his obsession with good and evil that led to lifelong battles with Fidel Castro, James Hoffa, and other mob and political figures. Steel provides an insightful study of the personality and politics of this Kennedy as he examines the public need to mythologize him. --Vanessa Bush

Publisher's Weekly Review

That so many people pinned such fervent hope on Robert Kennedy is at least as interesting as Kennedy himself. But Steel (Walter Lippmann and the American Century) doesn't really explore the longing that Kennedy provoked. Instead, he offers a sporadically insightful biographical essay that argues that Kennedy's assassination has prevented people from taking a hard, candid look at the man. Much of the book is dedicated to retrieving the real Kennedy from the myth of a liberal knight in shining armor. The result is a portrait that is somewhat admiring but mostly critical. Steel shows Kennedy to have been ruthless and dogmatic, uncharitable and saturnine in his moods. He reminds readers that Kennedy worked enthusiastically for Joseph McCarthy and that, despite his later criticism of Lyndon Johnson, he had been one of JFK's most hawkish advisers on Vietnam. Most interestingly, Steel argues that Kennedy's domestic proposals were much closer to those of Richard Nixon than to those of the other Democratic presidential contenders in 1968. His appraisal of how Kennedy came late but authentically to the cause of civil rights and to the plight of minorities is the most subtle part of the book. Above all, he shows Kennedy to have been more committed to the legend of his family than to his party or his country. Though Steel's picture is persuasive, he goes about his task repetitively and with too much Monday-morning psychologizing. There is too much simplistic summation of how Kennedy's Catholicism gave him an inflexible moral worldview, too much emphasis on how Kennedy relentlessly toughened himself physically and mentally (Steel makes Kennedy sound almost as pathologically disciplined as G. Gordon Liddy). For all that, the book is absorbing because of the intensity of Kennedy himself--and for the intensity of the feelings that many Americans still have for what they thought he represented. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The images of Bobby Kennedy as tribune of the poor and the last hope of his generation are, according to Steel (Walter Lippmann and the American Century), enduring myths created by an American public desperately searching for heroes during the volatile Sixties. Steel relies on almost all secondary works to portray Robert Kennedy as a ruthless politician who followed the Kennedy mantra of victory at all costs: an opportunistic predator whose attempt to form a coalition of the powerless was made primarily to discredit Lyndon Johnson's middle class-targeted Great Society and whose advocacy of Civil Rights was a ploy for black votes. Steel questionably assumes that Robert Kennedy was a conservative because he supported tough crime control and individual responsibility, although these were then in the liberal agenda. Kennedy's appeal is the result of his myth-within-a-myth inheritance of President Kennedy's Camelot; yet the author does acknowledge RFK's true legacy of promoting the public good over personal greed. This is reason enough to fondly remember Bobby Kennedy. See R.D. Mahoney's Sons and Brothers (LJ 7/99) for an investigation of the Kennedys that shares some of Steel's views. Recommended for public libraries; purchase as demand warrants.ÄKarl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 15
1 An American Dreamp. 17
2 The Man Nobody Knewp. 24
3 Family Valuesp. 32
4 True Believerp. 42
5 An Enemy Withinp. 51
6 Running Interferencep. 56
7 His Brother's Keeperp. 63
8 Troubleshooterp. 72
9 Retributionp. 85
10 The Making of a Legendp. 98
11 The Usurperp. 106
12 Lord-in-Waitingp. 116
13 Cautious Criticp. 129
14 Into the Breachp. 143
15 Soul Manp. 156
16 An Inconclusive Victoryp. 169
17 The End and the Beginningp. 181
18 The Bobby Mythp. 190
Notesp. 200
Bibliographyp. 208
Acknowledgmentsp. 210
Indexp. 211