Reprinted from yesterday's late editions

"What did my kids think of the book?" mused Ethel Kennedy, her gaze shifting off somewhere in the direction of Evangeline Bruce and lawyer Abba Schwartz, who stood nearby.

"Well," she finally replied, "I think they were delighted to read in such detail about their father . . . interested in seeing his different functions, you know. After all, there's a big difference in me talking and Arthur writing."

Eight years ago historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. elected to do a biography of his old friend Robert F. Kennedy. And Thursday night some of the old friends of both Kennedy and Schlesinger dropped by to celebrate the publication of "Robert Kennedy and His Times" at Kramerbooks and Afterwords.

"It's superb, absolutely superb," proclaimed civil rights and labor lawyer Joe Rauh, who dismissed some critical claims that the book was the pro-Kennedy. "If you believe as I do that Bobby was a little McCarthyite in the early '50s, who went on to become one of the most hopeful Americans by the time he died . . . then what difference does it make if he is painted a little favorably along the road?"

For his part, Schlesinger, accompanied by his wife, Alexandra, waved away that criticism by observing that "objectivity is one of those unattainable activities. Any figure as controversial as Bobby was at that time is still going to be controversial. All the facts are there, so people can make their own judgments. History after all is an argument without end."

Along with regular Kramerbooks customers - who appeared surprised seeing the store invaded by the likes of Schlesinger and Ethel Kennedy - other guests included Kennedy intimate Dave Hackett, Fed and Nancy Dutton, Joe Alsop, Lucy Moorhead, Clayton Fritchey, author Emmett Hughes and socialite Kay Halle.