From Publishers Weekly
Written to assess "Jackie Kennedy's historical impact on the institution of the First Lady," this account by Perry, a professor of government, chronicles Kennedy's push to restore the White House, promote the arts and cultural institutions, and define her husband's legacy. Perry argues that Kennedy was significant, in part, because she was a transitional figure. She was, according to Perry, among the last of the "traditional First Ladies"—women who defined themselves as "supportive spouses/model wives"—but she also stepped out of that role. In fact, Kennedy "established a pattern that her successors could adopt and adapt to publicize their own less traditional policy agendas." However, Perry spends little time expanding this insight. Instead, her book chronicles Kennedy's work and decision making in minute detail, recounting the particulars of correspondence between the First Lady and her staff about White House decor or plans for redesigning Lafayette Square. Perry also portrays Kennedy as a woman who presented herself, her family and the White House as icons of American freedom designed to promote democracy and challenge the legitimacy of Soviet communism. But once again, this argument remains undeveloped. Perry's study provides few new analytic insights about Jacqueline's tenure in the White House or beyond. The book's strength lies in Perry's attention to detail. 16 photos.
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"Perry has done a superb job, looking beyond the multitude of myths surrounding one of our most enigmatic First Ladies to reveal not just what she did but how her inner circle worked....An important contribution."