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Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady of the New Frontier (Modern First Ladies) Hardcover – September 9, 2004


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Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady of the New Frontier (Modern First Ladies) + Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch + These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie
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Editorial Reviews

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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Review

"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."
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern First Ladies
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; First Edition edition (September 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700613439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700613434
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #478,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I used to tease my dear mother that she turned me into a political scientist at the tender age of four! In October 1960 she loaded me and my two older brothers into our '56 Chevy for a trip to downtown Louisville, Kentucky, to attend a presidential campaign rally and see her new political hero--Senator John F. Kennedy. We arrived early and stood right in front of the podium where the handsome candidate spoke and reached over to shake my brother's hand. I was hooked! From that point on, I adored politics and began a life-long fascination with the Kennedy clan. On family vacations, I would urge my parents to stop at all the historic sights and memorials dedicated to JFK and his family. From Boston, to Hyannis Port, to Palm Beach, to Georgetown, to Arlington Cemetery, we made the pilgrimage.

On a high school field trip to Washington, D.C., I sat outside the White House and vowed to my mother that someday I would come back to work in the nation's capital. I did--from internships to fellowships--in all three branches of government. With a master's degree from Oxford and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, I became a specialist on the presidency, the Supreme Court, and, of course, the Kennedys. In addition to serving as a Supreme Court Fellow, I have produced five books on the justices, appointments, and civil rights and liberties. My book on First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy continues to prompt media inquiries, especially comparing Mrs. Obama to "Jackie O." I have completed a biography of Rose Kennedy, based on her recently released papers at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston and a collection of her letters that I have acquired. It is gratifying to know that Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch has been recommended by the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and Vanity Fair.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By T. R. Yarborough on May 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As one of the most charismatic and intriguing women in modern American history, Jacqueline Kennedy has been the subject of numerous books, articles, and even made-for-television movies. Those attempts, however, focused almost exclusively on Mrs. Kennedy's aura of celebrity---until now. Enter Dr. Barbara Perry, the Carter Glass Professor of Government at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. In "Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady of the New Frontier," Perry does an outstanding job of telling a familiar story from a scholar's perspective. She provides a highly readable, yet serious examination of Jacqueline Kennedy in the White House.

In researching the glamorous and sometimes enigmatic First Lady, Dr. Perry states that her mission "was to write the first scholarly treatment of her [Kennedy's] work as first lady and filter out the extremes of previous books that range from hagiographic tributes to mean-spirited or sensationalized accounts." That mission was a particularly daunting one in that Jacqueline Kennedy's personal papers and oral history, located in the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, remain closed. Not to be dissuaded, Dr. Perry apparently did exhaustive research into virtually every available primary source. The result is a fascinating, insightful look at a first lady who emerges as a surprisingly assertive, independent, and even bold actor on the White House stage. Jackie, of course, is best known as the driving force in the restoration of the White House, but she was equally influential in the creation of the White House Historical Society, the preservation of Lafayette Square, and support of the arts.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Cindy Gerlach Mueller on June 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Unlike more gosspiy biographies, political scientist Barbara Perry approaches the life of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy as a scholar. She writes about the early influences in her life, her role as first lady and the passions and causes that she undertook in her official life. Perry touches on such issues as JFK's infidelity and deftlly handles the criticism leveled at Mrs. Kennedy for, among other things, her spending on her wardrobe and her "francophile" attachments. So while the book doesn't get bogged down in the tawdry details of their personal lives, neither does it ignore them. It's a well-written, well-documented account of a White House that was so different than any other in modern times -- much due, in part, to the youth and flair of Jacqueline Kennedy. For those who want an objective account, this is an excellent read.
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At last - a book on Jackie Kennedy that does NOT focus on her pillbox hats! Barbara Perry gives a balanced and highly readable account of Jackie's early life, her three years in the White House, and her post-White House efforts to preserve her husband's legacy. Dr. Perry's approach is scholarly and her research seems to me to be solid. She successfully avoids the sensationalism and myth-making that diminish so many other books about this First Lady. I was particularly glad to find an in-depth treatment of Mrs. Kennedy's contributions to her husband's presidency, including her unwavering promotion of American arts and culture, the White House restoration project, her preservation efforts on Lafayette Square, and the international trips she took with her husband. Much of this information has been available to the American public for many decades, but Dr. Perry goes beneath the surface to present fresh details from first-hand sources. The reason I didn't give it five stars is because of the pictures. They are black and white (except for the book jacket), and are very poor quality. They detract from the seriousness of the book; it would have been wiser to omit them completely.
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Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady of the New Frontier (Modern First Ladies)
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