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75 of 79 people found the following review helpful
Only since her death in 1994, are we beginning to realize the depth and complexity of this magnificent women who we never really knew. Her image completely shaped by two husbands, each of whom were bigger than life. For many years Jackie Kennedy lived her life through her relationships with men of great power. Perhaps this was merely symbolic of the age that existed back then, but Jackie was never one to be kept captive by her surroundings, or those who would choose to try to control her, even exploit her.

After the death of Aristotle Onassis, Jackie started to come into her own. Receiving a $26 million settlement from the Onassis estate, she would be able live a life of luxury without being dependent upon the Kennedy family fortune which had bypassed her. She would come to know Andre Meyer, the most powerful banker of his generation, and together, he would build her nest egg into a multi-hundred million dollar fortune.

At 46, she was in the last third of her life - what to do? She decided she would live life on her own terms, and live she did. She knew that many of her relationships were superficial. People hung onto her because of her position in society, and she knew how to block people out once they violated her confidence, as so many of them did.

Greg Lawrence's book does a magnificent and beautiful job of taking us through the last third of Jackie's journey. She would learn to balance life with her children and pursue a career that many felt incredulous. The former first lady last had a job in the 1950's as a camera girl for the Washington Times-Herald. It was 1953, and the pay was $43.50 per week.

She had recently turned down an opportunity to create a television special on a project she loved, having been offered $500,000 to see the project through. She fought an aged Aristotle Onassis for his approval, and his response typical of the era was "No Greek wife works." It's all here and more.

And so after Aristotle's death, she calls friends in the publishing industry and decides she needs to pursue a career. Lawrence points out that one publisher tells her that it would be unfair to all his assistant editors to bring her in with no experience while they have worked hard for hers. He quickly lost her to Viking Publishing at a salary of $200 per week for a 4 day workweek.

Over the next 20 years, she edits and promotes more than 100 books, 3 of which were by Greg Lawrence, the writer of this work. As a result of Jackie working with Lawrence directly, we know that he really got to know her, and what made her tick during this, Jackie's literary period. Maxwell Perkins taught her that the book belongs to the author. By living this concept, Jackie knew always to remain in the background. Let the author shine. It is the author's book and therefore it is the writer who must be front and center. Years later she would leave Viking and join Doubleday and her career would go on, until she had built a legacy with those 100 plus books that she had chaperoned into existence. Each one allowing her a new window into a new aspect of society and history.

Extremely modest, and by nature shy, when she would refer to books, she would call them, her other best friends. When she died, she was surrounded by books. She loved books as her son John said at her death. They were her window into the minds, and hearts and ideas, and through them, the world. When she died at a much too young 64 years of age, her brother in law, Senator Ted Kennedy said that Jackie would have preferred to be, "Just herself, but the world insisted that she be a legend too." It's all here in Jackie as Editor, beautifully crafted by a master story teller, enlightening, and engaging. I am thankful that Lawrence wrote this timeless tale that will be read for years to come, and thank you for reading this review.

Richard C. Stoyeck
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2011
I remember hearing about Jackie taking on the job as an editor back in the late 70's. I had no idea how she built a prolific and meaningful career in publishing. She had a strong eye for ideas that could become successful books. She also was not shy about line editing. She worked extremely hard with her authors, and pushed them to produce a high quality product. Colleagues were initially overwhelmed with her presence, but eventually treated her as any other co-worker. She was a prolific editor, and Lawrence has a way of making it all so interesting. Jackie worked all the way up to her untimely death. I didn't think I could respect this woman anymore than I already did - but this lifted my respect to the highest level possible.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2011
The Wall Street Journal book review of December 18, 2010 in an article titled "Rewriting Her Legacy" stated the following:

"It's hard to imagine that there's more to say about the extraordinary life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, but it turns out that there is: Two dueling books tell the story of the last third of her life spent as a literary editor in New York, with JFK and Ari just ghostly presences in the background.

William Kuhn's "Reading Jackie" and Greg Lawrence's "Jackie as Editor" are seemingly the same book--chronological accounts of her 19-year career at the publishers Viking and Doubleday--but they are actually very different."

I, however, believe that K.L. Kelleher's book "Jackie: Beyond the Myth of Camelot, A Passion for Artists & Authors", which appeared on the market 11 years ago, is well written, researched, insightful, engaging and certainly worth reading! Kelleher's book is a bye product of her PBS documentary, with the same name, which debuted on November 29th, 1999.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2011
I have read "Reading Jackie" and now I am reading this incredible book.
This is the better of the two titles. I will give my reasons why later
but for now I had to stop mid-book to cast my vote overwhelmingly on this
work of literary depth. It goes beyond the cliches, wherein much of
"Reading Jackie" is mired, and provides solid foundations for
each aspect of the character portrayal(this unlike "Reading Jackie"
where on the flimsiest evidence Lawrence will infer a major trait).

Also, ones feels in the flow and seamless authority of this book
the benefits and depth that come from the portrayal of someone who
actually knew her personally and had dealings with her. Lawrence also
goes back to the original sources and lets them speak first hand
about their experience of her, instead of dealing in overhwhelmingly
in hearsay, as Kuhn does.

So, beautifully done! (I'll write more detailed reviews of both books later).

P.S. I was intrigued to know which would be the better book, especially after
I read Kuhn's low-class remarks about Lawrence in the NYT. It figures that
the one with the ugly remarks has the cheaper book with less quality and
less value from a literary point of view. Was it Matthew who said, "as
within, so without"?
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Two books were published almost simultaneously on the same subject: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as editor. I chose to read the one by Greg Lawrence because I enjoyed the two memoirs he co-wrote with his life partner of the time ballet dancer Gelsey Kirkland (books which, incidentally, Onasssis edited). Both Dancing on My Grave, a vivid, behind-the-scenes portait of Kirkland's rise, fall, and recovery as a drug-addicted dancer working under extreme pressure, and Shape of Love, an intimate look at Kirkland's preparation for two plum ballet roles--Juliet in ROMEO AND JULIET and Princess Aurora in SLEEPING BEAUTY--demonstrate the authors' love of beauty and high art and a deep compassion for those caught up in the cruel realities of celebrity culture. Based on my appreciation for those two earlier books I felt Lawrence's book would be intimate, informative, and insightful without trying to "read too much" into Onassis's choices about which books to shepherd through the publishing process (a complaint some Amazon reviewers made about Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books, the other book recently published on Onassis's publishing career).

Lawrence's book lived up to my expectations. He interviewed a wide range of people who worked closely with Onassis (ghost writers and co-editors as well as the many authors, artists, and photographers she helped to publish). It continues to fascintate me how, given her history, Onassis managed to have a reasonably normal life (Lawrence depicts her as having an earthy sense of humor and being a tireless worker, not above getting on the floor to rearrange photographs she was considering including in a book. She was also very much a political animal, a trait that helped her to rescue a number of projects that her publishers were ready to jettison). And it's fascinating to see how she was able to work quite closely with staff while preserving her privacy. Her love of books, art, photography, travel, cultures, and people was both broad and deep. While the anecdotes shared are not particularly "juicy" by modern, reality TV standards, Lawrence's interviewees share details that reveal just how much the people in Onassis's life valued and respected her. Onassis did not like to be acknowledged in prefaces to the books she edited and only rarely would she contribute a foreword. But she was a great writer of thank-you notes, snippets of which Lawrence includes in this book. While Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis will likely always remain a mystery to most of us, Lawrence does a lot to demonstrate that she lived her life fully in real time and, to a considerable degree, on her own terms. Lawrence has created a moving and credible intimate portrait of a twentieth-century icon.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2011
As someone who always found Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis fascinating, I wondered about how she had spent her final years. She was an editor, I knew, but what did she edit? What books had her personal touch? Was she happy, both professionally and personally? There was no wondering why a woman with her wealth would work; why would she not, if she could find something interesting and worthwhile to do? Such a mind and personality as hers would be wasted otherwise.

Most Americans knew, or thought we knew, Jackie's history, her education, her interests. It is not surprising to learn in this work how much she loved history, France, literature, and living well. There are few surprises in the books that she chose to champion at the publishing houses for which she worked as editor, but they are there. Her involvement in the Michael Jackson book is just such a case, being a volume she was talked into doing, but a subject about which she knew little. That she was willing to tackle it in spite of its strangeness to her, shows that she was willing to learn and was a working editor.

The interviews and statements of authors about the way in which she worked with them are telling in a way. There isn't a negative word among them, although there are several regarding Doubleday and how the publisher treated them, especially after Jackie's death. One of the problems with the writing lies here, though. Occasionally it is difficult to discern whose words one is reading, the interviewee, or that of the author of this book. Regardless, it is clear that each of her authors respected her, some adored her, and a few just cared about her work on their books. The number of books is impressive given the short time in which she worked as an editor, and the amount of time she gave to many of them.

Jackie was a woman who found her own path through horror, sadness, and criticism. She was viewed by the American public almost as a national treasure and they thought she should behave in a certain manner. When she didn't behave that way, they criticized her, were disappointed in her. But she was a person in her own right, and although she did take on the task of preserving John Kennedy's memory, she had other things to do. Things both good and bad, learning and growing experiences. In the books she edited, Jackie left behind her own legacy as her own person.

She cared about the quality of the books she championed, even though most of them did not bear her name in any way. That is clearly one of the things missing in publishing these days, caring more about the content or the appearance of an item than in how much money it will bring in. The publishing world could use more editors of her ilk and fewer business people.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
She was Mrs. Kennedy for a decade, a Presidential widow for 5 years and the wife of a Greek millionaire for 7. That accounts for just over 20 of her 64 years, and yet those are the areas most biographers concentrate on.

Finally a serious, affectionate and inspiring view of 15+ years she spent as a book editor. This is the life she built by herself, for herself, after living her life and realizing her ambitions through men. She brought everything that had come before -- her jetset celebrity, her role as the First Lady who restored the White House, her times as a young woman living in Paris -- to her career in publishing. Here we see her learning the industry (everything from office politics to working the xerox machine), nurturing her authors and championing the projects that spoke to her. Perhaps because she had received so much attention in other areas of her life, she concentrated more on *the work* than on receiving credit. Therefore she had a hand in more books than most of us realize, and you may be surprised to find some of those titles on your shelf right now

Don't assume that just because this book is a classy account of her literary life that it's dry and boring. Many anecdotes give us an idea of the woman herself (she loved burgers for lunch and really did speak in that breathy little-girl voice) and include juicy glimpses at other celebrities (from Sinatra to Mayor Daley to Carly Simon to Michael Jackson).
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Greg Lawrence has written an intimate look at the final years of Jackie Kennedy's life where she worked as an editor at Viking then at Doubleday. As Gloria Steinem told the author, "As for why she chose to be an editor as opposed to some other profession, I think it's quite simple: She loved books. They were windows into hearts, minds, ideas, and the world. Books were powerful." (p. 4)

The authenticity of the research into this book combined with the excellent storytelling kept me turning pages to the end. The authenticity comes out as well in the introduction: "With her steadfast commitment to secrecy, Jackie would surely never have allowed these pages to be written during her lifetime. But, hoping to pay tribute to her memory 15 years after her death, more than 125 of her former collaborators in the publishing world have come forward with their tales of Jackie." (p. 5) I enjoyed JACKIE AS EDITOR and recommend it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2011
And, of course, I'm a Jackie fan--like the author. She was definitely a myth-maker, but I admire her smarts and pluck, and this book gives a peek at those sides of her.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2013
I was disappointed in this book, as I thought I would learn more about the editing process and publishing, as well as Jackie in her professional role. It read like a lot of fill with little of this kind of information. I found it dry. Small print made it difficult to read.
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