The Gospel According to RFK
Why It Matters Now
by Norman MacAfee
Hardcover. Retail Price: $16.95 ($25.95 Can./£13.50 UK)
Publication date: June 2004     US $16.95/CAN $23.95     167 pages
Westview Press/Basic Books
ISBN: 0-8133-9157-1

As he campaigned for the presidency in 1968, Robert Kennedy outlined what seems today a redemptive vision for America. Tirelessly, before the kinds of vast crowds reserved for rock stars, RFK articulated with passionate eloquence the disasters of a misguided war, the pain of the dispossessed, and the way out of war and poverty. And then, 81 days into the campaign, he was assassinated. Now, in The Gospel According to RFK, writer Norman MacAfee has brought together for the first time the best of Kennedy's presidential campaign speeches and contributes lively and engaging commentary that makes them fresh and relevant. Issues of peace, justice, equality, and responsibility, which were at the center of RFK's campaign, have as much meaning today as they did in 1968. The Gospel According to RFK is a book for combative Democrats, liberals, independents, progressives, and even moderate Republicans to carry around, read for inspiration, and quote. It is a book for people who believe they can change the government, the society, even the world.

    "Some of the most exhilarating days in American life occurred between March 16, 1968, when Robert Kennedy announced his presidential campaign and June 4, 1968, when he was assassinated. Both the hopes and fears of those 81 days are captured in this exhilarating book. Kennedy's anger over hunger, his passion against the war in Vietnam and his faith in black Americans are recorded in 23 unforgettable chapters. Those who read this inspiring volume will acquire a deeper admiration and gratitude for Bobby Kennedy than they ever had before."--Robert F. Drinan, S.J., Professor, Georgetown University Law Center

    "A badly needed corrective offering compassion, understanding, and optimism and providing an alternative way of dealing with the pessimism and despair fed to us daily by the present administration."--Vine Deloria, Jr., author of Custer Died for Your Sins

    "The Gospel According to RFK recounts the best of the campaign speeches made by RFK in the first 81 days of the campaign and the last 81 days of his life.... His speeches championing peace, justice, the environment, education, healthcare, and national unity are classics, not classics of studied, stilted rhetoric but classics of the eloquence that comes when a speaker's heart is in the words, shining through. As an unabashed admirer of RFK, editor Norman MacAfee's commentary ties this brief but powerful book together in seamless, memorable style. Whatever the reader's politics, The Gospel According to RFK contains inspiring words to read and re-read for the sure and certain belief Robert Kennedy held that America was, as Thomas Jefferson proposed, the 'last best hope of mankind.'... Food for thought in this presidential election year 2004."--Mary Garrett, The Advocate Newspaper, South Cheatham, Tennessee, July 31, 2004

    "Robert Kennedy's humanity, common sense, humility, and passion shine through his own words in this wonderful little book. The editor, Norman MacAfee, does an excellent job of culling the best from the final 1968 campaign speeches. Most movingly, MacAfee provides crystal clear brief introductory comments which set the context for each of Bobby's speeches and indicate how relevent his evolving thinking on the key issues of war, poverty, racism is to today's dangerous world. The echoes in Kennedy's words of our own times are heart-rendingly prescient. The book's conclusion is achingly clear: if Bobby had lived we would not today be tangled in a pre-emptive war without end."--Delia Pitts

    "A wonderful collection of speeches from Robert Kennedy's tragically curtailed 1968 presidential campaign. They are challenging, thought provoking & inspiring--as you read them you can only think of what America and the world would have been like if he hadn't been assassinated. What is also striking is how relevant and contemporary the issues and values articulated by RFK are for the times we live in today. Norman MacAfee prefaces each speech with thoughts of his own, putting the speeches into the context of not only Robert Kennedy's 1968 campaign but also how and why the issues and beliefs that RFK speaks about matters now. I strongly recommend this book for every RFK admirer who cares about his legacy and what it can still offer to the world."--Deborah Gatty

    "This collection of excerpts from the speeches Robert F. Kennedy gave when he ran for president in 1968 resound with idealism and a vision for a compassionate world. MacAfee, a translator and author of a book of poetry and an opera (The Death of the Forest), includes the speech at Kansas State University where Kennedy first accepts responsibility for setting the country on a path towards war during JFK's administration, and then explains the evolution of his opposition to the Vietnam war by declaring that, 'we are acting as if no other nation existed [...] our present course will not bring victory; will not bring peace; will not stop the bloodshed; and will not advance [...] the cause of peace in the world.' Kennedy also remarks on the need for universal health care, the positive role played by democratic dissent and debate on issues, and, most convincingly, on the need to end hunger in the US. In a statement delivered less than two months before his death on the campaign trail, he called the failure to end poverty 'a national disgrace. The most prosperous society on the globe must be able to save its children from death, disease, and despair that result from a lack of adequate food.'"--Publisher's Weekly

Arianna Huffington on RFK and the 2004 Election:
Arianna Huffington on Real Time with Bill Maher, HBO, September 3, 2004: "[The Democrats] are not sufficiently bold and sufficently visionary. They need to go back to Bobby Kennedy and 1968. That was the last time that the Democrats truly inspired red states and blue states and everybody..."

For more information about The Gospel According to RFK, contact:

    Paul Gilbert
    Basic Books
    387 Park Ave. South, 12th Floor
    New York, NY 10016


Back to Norman MacAfee's home page  |  The Death of the Forest  |  Curriculum vitae  |  Publications   |  Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts  ]