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America's Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Paperback – October 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141002204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141002200
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Fresh from her well-received life of Queen Elizabeth II, the English historian and biographer Sarah Bradford turns her hand to America's own answer to royalty, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Painstakingly detailed, impressively fair, the result is the most definitive account yet of a woman who captured the imagination of the American public like no First Lady before or after her. Bradford seems to have interviewed almost everyone who had ever been intimate with Onassis, including George Plimpton, Gore Vidal, Joan Kennedy, and even a few ex-lovers. Most notably of all, Jackie's sister Lee Radziwill speaks with unexpected frankness about the mixture of rivalry and affection that marked their relationship since childhood. Jackie-lovers, take note: this is no hagiography, and its subject certainly comes off as no saint. As gracious as this American icon could be, she also had moments of coldness and even greed, including a particularly shocking moment by the bedside of Ari Onassis's dying son. Yet, in the end, non-airbrushed anecdotes like these only serve to make this most private of public figures even more fascinating. Jackie was, as Bradford writes, "a complex woman of many facets, concealed insecurities and intricate defense mechanisms, a strong urge toward the limelight contrasting with a desire for privacy and concealment.... Behind the mask of beauty and fame lay a shrewd mind, a ruthless judgment of people, antennae finely turned to any sign of pretentiousness or pomposity, and a wry, even raunchy sense of humor." The figure who emerges from subsequent pages is as compelling as the heroine of any novel, and it is to Bradford's credit that she doesn't seem to have fallen completely under her subject's spell. Her approach is sympathetic, but never fawning; candid, but never sensationalistic. For those who are curious not about Jackie's glamour but about its source, America's Queen offers an unprecedented look at the flesh-and-blood woman behind the Camelot myth. --Carlotta DeWitt --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Jackie, we thought we knew you. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The whole book seemed to make her out as a money hungry thoughtless woman.
Brenna Monk
Ms. Bradford's bio is exceptionally detailed catalogue of the life of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.
Apart from this obvious bias, the author does a good job of conveying the story of Jackie's life.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Pajamazon VINE VOICE on March 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A solid biography of a complex woman, Jackie Onassis. Bradford does her usual stellar job of peeking behind the curtain of mystery and into the lives of the rich and famous. This book makes a fine companion to her biographies of Princess Grace and Queen Elizabeth II. Bradford takes us from Jackie's earliest years as the adored eldest child of a wayward father, John Vernou "Black Jack" Bouvier; to the White House as the politically advantageous mate to an unfaithful John F. Kennedy; to Greece as the trophy wife of Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis; and finally to the freedom and excitement of New York during Jackie's later years in the 70s and 80s.
We get to see behind the Kennedy mythology-Jack was as wayward as her father, and in retaliation, Jackie spent his money. Nanny Maud Shaw was pointedly left out of the many photo-exclusives the Kennedys gave to Life magazine, even though she was the main parental figure for Caroline and John, Jr. Coexisting in the First Lady was a woman who wore glamorous gowns and wowed dignitaries with her conversational skills and self-possessed manner, and a woman who smoked incessantly, hated campaigning, bit her fingernails to the quick, and was deeply wounded by her husband's infidelities.
Bradford's interviews are far-ranging: From Gloria Steinem to Jackie's younger sister Lee Radziwill, many of Jackie's acquaintances in Greece, Gore Vidal, her cousin John Davis, and some of her former flames, the people quoted in this book give us a glimpse of a privileged and often painful life. It is frankly stated that Jackie's repeated miscarriages and stillbirths were undoubtedly due contracting chlamydia from JFK. For years after the assassination of her husband, in odd moments Jackie would confide the hideous shock of holding parts of her husband's head in her hands.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By shirley lieb on October 23, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I plowed through this thick paperback fairly quickly. Here and there the author gets bogged down with such details as to the addresses of people that are involved with Jackie. The beginning section that deals with Jackie's childhood reveals not only her knowledge in dealing with such men as her father, but explains how she survived the behavior of JFK. The part of the book that takes place just prior to the assasination brings to the reader a bittersweet explanation of how they had finally found a closeness with each other that was enjoyed all too briefly.
Jackie was criticized by the press, plagued by photographers and misunderstood by the Kennedy family. With her unique personality, she manages to rise above it all and give some semblance of normalcy to her life and that of her children.
After reading the book, while I understand her better, I can't say for sure that I would have enjoyed being her friend. Her emotions seemed a bit too volatile for comfort.
I give the book high marks. Clearly there has been intensive research done here. Except in one of the photos of Jackie leaving for the Inaugural Gala. That was the night of Jan. 19th, not the 20th.
This one is going on my bookshelf to stay with the rest of my first lady collection.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Sarah Bradford has accomplished something quite wonderful ~ the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis story told through perceptive, balanced, and caring eyes. If you thought there was little left to be said about the woman who captivated America and the world in the early 1960's, you should read this version of one of the most scrutinized life stories of the twentieth century.
Bradford has done a remarkable amount of research and distilled forty years worth of previously published writing into a compelling account. She augments her research with a large and impressive array of interviews with primary sources, including, for the first time on record, Jackie's sister, Lee Radzilwell.
And yet her account is riddled with nagging mistakes of tiny details, starting with the first sentance of the first chapter. Jackie was a thirty four year old widow in November 1963, not thirty five as stated. Small mistakes, yes, but God is in the details and it's a little jarring, undermining slightly her scholarly and well measured approach.
Nonetheless, her take on the life of "America's Queen" is riviting in its presentation and scope. Jackie emerges as both an icon and a person, a woman with a unique hold on our cultural psyche as well as a woman of the 1950's coming into her own through the years of a fascinating life.
A worthy addition to the Kennedy canon, and justifiably described as a "definative" biography.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Harvey on February 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I highly recommend this biography of Jackie. It is, by far, the best I've read. Bradford shows us a real woman, not a myth, and there are so many stunning details. The personality of Jackie's mother particularly shocked me. How did Jackie survive the terrible, manipulative environment of her childhood? This biography highlighted such salient details, such as: - her mother's prevention of her being escorted down the aisle by her father on her wedding day; - Jackie and her sister Lee taking a back seat in the Auchincloss step family; - Jackie's unique contribution to American history through her championing of the arts (redecorating the White House, securing the Egyptian exhibit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, preserving the Grand Central Station in NYC, and so much else) - Most of all, the strength of her marriage to JFK. Bradford did a better job than any other biographer, of explaining the complex and developing relationship between the two. I highly recommend this book!
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