"On to Chicago": Rediscovering Robert F. Kennedy and the Lost Campaign of 1968
"So my thanks to all of you, and now it's on to Chicago and let's win there."
--Senator Robert F. Kennedy, California Democratic presidential primary victory speech, June 5, 1968 (moments before his assassination)
The 1968 election was and remains spellbinding. Unlike modern presidential campaigns, where a dozen or more unknowns vie for debate stage sound bites, that year nine titans battled for the presidency. Fifty years later, most people are unaware that in a single race former Vice President Richard Nixon, California Governor Ronald Reagan, President Lyndon Johnson, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Senator Eugene McCarthy, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, former Alabama Governor George Wallace, and Michigan Governor George Romney all squared off for the White House. The shocking assassination of Robert Kennedy on the night of his California primary victory left a gaping hole in history and for five decades left this unanswered question:
"On to Chicago" answers for history -- based on facts, not on idealized or romantic notions -- what likely would have happened if RFK had lived to go on to Chicago--the city that hosted the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention. "On to Chicago" is a heavily researched and sourced work that twists the arc of history with facts. It will appeal both to fiction lovers as well as pure history aficionados, because so much of it is true. With nearly one thousand online endnotes that confirm how much of this story mirrors reality, many revelations will surprise even the most dedicated history buffs.
* * * * *
"James Rogan’s novel is a political classic. Not only does he deal with one of the most interesting “what ifs” in history, but also he presents a fascinating and accurate account of the tumultuous 1968 campaign of the presidency. Five stars!"
– JULIE NIXON EISENHOWER AND DAVID EISENHOWER,
Bestselling authors of Pat Nixon and Eisenhower at War: 1943-1945
"For me, reading 'On to Chicago' brought back a very painful memory, yet in the pain I also found a healing when thinking about how it could have turned out differently. Jim Rogan brings Bobby Kennedy and the other presidential candidates from 1968 back to life, and he balances their political throat-cutting and caring sides so we can know them. Best of all, this story gave me a look into a future that was taken from us fifty years ago. I’m not much of a bookworm, but in my humble opinion this is worth the read. Thanks to Mr. Rogan for opening this door to what might have been."
– JUAN ROMERO,
The teenage Ambassador Hotel busboy wearing the white jacket in the iconic news photograph of him kneeling alongside and aiding Senator Robert Kennedy seconds after the bullets struck
"There are two kinds of writers who tell the story of the 1968 Democratic presidential primary, when Gene McCarthy challenged LBJ over Vietnam, LBJ dropped out, Bobby Kennedy came in – and then was assassinated on the night of his biggest campaign victory. After that the presidential nomination devolved upon Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who was insufficiently supported against Richard Nixon, but almost beat him anyway…and afterwards it seemed as though nothing much had happened, after all.
The first and largest group of writers take the lofty view that the passion for change that briefly swept the country in ’68 was an illusion or chimera, and that Nixon was the logical and destined American winner all along. The second, smaller group, contends that the United States was on the brink of momentous change that summer, a feeling that seized upon the candidacies of McCarthy and Kennedy and was on its way to bringing about something very new – when it crashed against the rare coincidence of Bobby’s assassination, Gene McCarthy’s withdrawal, and the dulling re-appearance of business as usual. But there was that moment, when people all over the country were talking about what was right and wrong in politics on the assumption that things could change, and that we could begin to live up to our basic American values – and that created a very different mood which we have struggled ever since to recapture. Interesting to me that Jim Rogan saw this same thing from the viewpoint of a conservative Republican, while I described it, in 'Nobody Knows,' from (roughly) the Democratic Left. Since then, we’ve both grown a bit more skeptical. But those of us who were there cannot deny what we felt was happening."
– JEREMY LARNER
1968 Campaign speechwriter for Eugene McCarthy; Author, "Nobody Knows: Reflections on the 1968 McCarthy Campaign"; Screenwriter, "The Candidate," 1972 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay
"I was a teenager when my father ran for president in 1968 and vividly remember the excitement of being a first-hand, eyewitness to history. Jim Rogan has taken one of our nation’s most tumultuous and interesting presidential elections and made it even more compelling. Every page makes you wonder how history might have changed with just the slightest twist of fate."
– GEORGE WALLACE, JR.
"James Rogan has written a fast-moving account, part-fact, part-fiction, of political events in 1968 based on the premise that Robert Kennedy survived rather than succumbed to Sirhan Sirhan’s shooting of him in June of that year. He captures and times and characters well."
– TED VAN DYK,
Senior Aide to Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey
"What if Bobby Kennedy had survived the assassin’s bullet? Jim Rogan’s riveting, meticulously researched work imagines the answer to that question in vivid detail – while taking you on a heart-stopping ride through a fascinating-to-contemplate alternative history of the tumultuous 1968 presidential election. This stunningly provocative tour de force puts America on a completely different trajectory, leading to a radically different set of cascading events. You will be spellbound."
– MONICA CROWLEY, PHD,
Fox News Contributor
"The 1968 Presidential campaign produced far more real life volatility and heart-pounding suspense than most Americans wanted. 'On to Chicago' moves the excitement needle even higher – portraying Bobby Kennedy as surviving both the actual attempt on his life, and then LBJ’s attempt to end his political life. Jim Rogan is a master storyteller with a perfect ear and encyclopedic knowledge of politics that captures the high level deal-making and breaking of that tense time of crisis. This book kept me up way too late for two nights, and I can’t wait to see who they will cast for the major roles in the movie!"
– PETE WILSON,
Governor of California (1991-1999); former campaign aide to Richard Nixon