Picks and Pans Review: Quote

updated 06/07/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/07/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT


"NOT ACCEPTABLE, "ROBERT F. KENNEdy would often declare when speaking of poverty and injustice. And when the 44-year-old presidential candidate was murdered in Los Angeles a quarter century ago this week, "not acceptable" described the reaction of a stunned and bitter nation. Several new books recall the man who inspired so many. In addition to ROBERT KENNEDY: THE LAST CAMPAIGN (Harcourt, Brace & Co., $35) with text by Hays Corey and photographs by Bill Eppridege, a personal memoir called WHEN I THINK OF BOBBY (HarperCollins, $20) has been written by Warren Rogers, former Look magazine correspondent and Kennedy family friend. AN HONORABLE PROFESSION (Doubleday; $9.95) gathers tributes from 1968 between softcovers. The evolution of Kennedy's own words may be traced in RFK: COLLECTED SPEECHES (Viking, $25). Below, an excerpt from a Feb. 8, 1968, speech delivered as the Johnson Administration declared North Vietnam's Tet Offensive a U.S. military victory:

"A total military victory is not within sight or around the corner...in fact, it is probably beyond our grasp;...the effort to win such a victory will only result in the further slaughter of thousands of innocent and helpless people—a slaughter which will forever rest on our national conscience.... No war has ever demanded more bravery from our people and our government—not just bravery under fire or the bravery to make sacrifices, but the bravery to discard the comfort of illusion, to do away with false hopes and alluring promises. Reality is grim and painful. But it is only a remote echo of the anguish toward which a policy founded on illusion is surely taking us. This is a great nation and a strong people. Any who seek to comfort rather than to speak plainly, reassure rather than instruct, promise satisfaction rather than reveal frustration—they deny that greatness and drain that strength. For today as it was in the beginning, it is the truth that makes us free.

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