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Review: Make Gentle the Life of this World: The vision of Robert F. Kennedy


Throughout the 1960s, Robert F. Kennedy kept a private journal of favourite quotations, recording the philosophies of great leaders and thinkers throughout history. Thirty years after his father’s tragic death, Maxwell Taylor Kennedy has culled the highlights of this journal, along with inspiring portions of Robert Kennedy’s most memorable speeches, to create a passionate, immortal voice for his father’s vision. With passages on freedom, democracy, civil rights, education, justice, tragedy, and peace, Make Gentle the Life of this World speaks powerfully to America’s unstoppable drive for a better world. Complemented by poignant photographs of Robert Kennedy, this is a moving tribute to an extraordinary hero, whose dreams for America has never been extinguished.

Published in 1998 and compiled from Robert Kennedy’s day book by his son Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, this book is a great addition to any collection. Thoughts and speeches from R.F.K himself have been collated and interspersed with passages from Abraham Lincoln, Aeschylus, Edith Hamilton, and many others whose words inspired the late Senator and Attorney General. The book is divided into sections covering broad themes such as ‘America Spirit’, ‘A Citizen in a Civil Society’ and ‘Personal Knowledge’. These sections each cover more specific topics such as civil rights, education, poverty, and courage, and also contain images of R.F.K throughout his life and career. The passages are inspiring and thought provoking, and could be considered even more poignant considering today’s political climate in both the US and the UK.

The book offers a unique insight to R.F.K., and his personal and political thinking, and therefore is a must read for anyone who has an interest in American political history or the Kennedy family. For readers less familiar with Robert Kennedy’s political career the introduction by Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, and handy time line of events, brings everyone up to speed with a brief overview of the man who was the US attorney general at a very turbulent time in American politics. Maxwell Taylor’s introduction explains his motives for publishing the book, and offers a more personal window into the life of his father.

Outside of the introduction, the main bulk of the book is simply a curated selection of quotes categorised thematically. There is little information surrounding the quotes (apart from the author’s name) which doesn’t allow for full understanding of the quote in its original context. However the lack of context does create a smoother reading experience, which could have otherwise been hindered by chunks of bulky factual information. Furthermore, as the purpose of this book is to gain a glimpse into the life and mind of R.F.K, allows the reader to situate the words into their vision and interpretation of the public political figure.

At only 188 pages long, Make Gentle the Life of this World is a perfect book to carry with you for the opportune minutes of reading. There is no plot or narrative, so I do not know how well it would read cover to cover, but as a dip-in-and-out or a quick ‘I’ve got five minutes before work/school’ it is ideal. Get your pencils and sticky notes ready, as this book practically begs you to highlight and annotate. Full with inspiring and meaningful text, to readers will come back to its pages again and again, to find their favourite lines and passages, and to interpret them in relation to their own lives.

Favourite R.F.K passage
His speech on the death of the reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Favourite non-R.F.K passage
‘Civilizaton is a race between education and catastrophe.’ – H. G. Wells


Book update!


I have new books to read and review! And this makes me happy!
Hopefully this will mean this blog will be updated a lot more, depending on my university work of course (but I’m pretty sure that if I did less procrastinating it could work).

The new books I have recently purchased and be given are listed below. None of them are particularly new releases, but I have been wanting to read a few of them for a long time (some were new releases when I got them). One book that was a new release when I bought it is Jake Humphrey’s The Inside Track, however I have since been home for Christmas and for some reason left it there. So I’m afraid a review of that will have to wait until I can put my hands on it again. So here are the books!

The Casual Vacancy – J.K Rowling
The Inside Track – Jake Humphrey
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
Winning is Not Enough – Jackie Stewart
The Life of Senna – Tom Rubython
The Great Gatsby – F.Scott Fitzgerald
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle


And before you become shocked at the idea of my poor bank account, I received some of these for my birthday, and three of the above mentioned were only around the £2 mark, but more about that when I review them.

I hope the new year brings with it new hopes for you all 🙂