Television and print journalist Chris Matthews’ biography, “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit,” is the latest in a spate of Kennedy literature to capture the public fancy.
Matthews’ approach diverges from most in a number of ways. There are astute comparisons between family members: “Jack was a charmer with a lightness about him and a 100-watt smile. […] Bobby’s emotions ran hot and cold, from anger to empathy.” Also fascinating is Matthews’ take on Bobby’s interface with Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who charged that the State Department was riddled with Communists. Although the two were on opposite sides of the divide, there was a measure of mutual understanding between them. “Above all, [McCarthy] and Bobby were fighters,” the author says.
Ultimately, though, readers witness the evolution of Kennedy’s soul. Through tragedy after tragedy we find the man humanized.
In a recent interview, Matthews explained that this treatment was deliberate on his part. “I’ve written a lot of books,” he said, “but none with such heart.” Barbara Hall, AP