All This Marvelous Potential

All This Marvelous Potential
All This Marvelous Potential

All This Marvelous Potential

Robert Kennedy's 1968 Tour of Appalachia
By Matthew Algeo


304 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Cloth, Trade Paper

Cloth, $28.99 (US $28.99) (CA $38.99)

ISBN 9781641600590

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Mar 2020)

Price: $28.99
Google Preview
Media Copy


A new portrait of Robert Kennedy, a politician of uncommon courage who was unafraid to shine a light on our shortcomings 

"A powerful story, skillfully told." —Booklist 

A new portrait of Robert Kennedy, a politician who, for all his faults, had the uncommon courage to stand up to a president from his own party and shine a light on America's shortcomings

In early 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy ventured deep into the heart of Appalachia to gauge the progress of President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. Kennedy viewed his two days in Kentucky as an opportunity to test his antiwar and antipoverty message with hardscrabble white voters.  

Among the strip mines, one-room schoolhouses, and dilapidated homes, however, Kennedy encountered a strong mistrust and intense resentment of establishment politicians. 

In All This Marvelous Potential, author Matthew Algeo meticulously retraces RFK's tour of eastern Kentucky, visiting the places he visited and meeting with the people he met. Algeo explains how and why the region has changed since 1968, and why it matters for the rest of the country.  

The similarities between then and now are astonishing: divisive politics, racial strife, economic uncertainty, and environmental alarm.   


“I’ve been waiting thirty-five years, since I was a young reporter at the Courier-Journal in Louisville, for someone to do justice to Bobby Kennedy’s milepost trip across eastern Kentucky. Matthew Algeo’s new book makes it worth that wait.” —Larry Tye, author of Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon 

“An astoundingly good book! This is a must read for anyone interested in history, politics, poverty, Appalachia, Robert Kennedy...” —Carrie, Goodreads 

“A concise historical analysis through which stories of Appalachia's coal country, and its residents’ poverty, make clear the challenges of the past and the legacies that shaped a more hopeful future.” Foreword Reviews ‚Äč

“This is a fantastically researched and written book, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone…” —Elizabeth, Goodreads 

“This fast-paced narrative, focusing less on Kennedy and more on local people, will find audiences among those who enjoyed J. D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy and Tony Horowitz's Spying on the South.” Library Journal 

“This title was a page-turner and eye-opening on the topic and the region of the US. Exceptional work and very intriguing.” —Brett, Goodreads 

“The book humanizes Kennedy, showing his strengths and foibles. As an Appalachian myself, this book resonated with me deeply.” —Holly, Goodreads 

“This book is marvelous! I learned so much from it.” —Jan, Goodreads 

Author Biography

Matthew Algeo is the author of Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure, The President Is a Sick Man, and Pedestrianism. An award-winning journalist, Algeo has reported from four continents for public radio’s All Things Considered, Marketplace, and Morning Edition.