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Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy Hardcover – Box set, September 14, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Caroline Kennedy is the editor of the New York Times bestselling A Patriot's Handbook, Profiles in Courage for Our Time, The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, A Family of Poems, A Family Christmas, and the coauthor of The Right to Privacy and In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action. She serves as the Vice Chair of the Fund for Public Schools in New York City and President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. She lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; 1st edition (September 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401324258
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401324254
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.8 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (329 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

473 of 492 people found the following review helpful By Richard of Connecticut VINE VOICE on September 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I simply cannot put into words the beauty of this book, audio, and project that was put together by Caroline Kennedy and historian Michael Beschloss, but of course you have to consider what they are building upon. It is January 1964; a 34 year old young widow who has captivated America with her personal courage was forced by her husband's death to leave what had become her home, the White House. She must endure the long winter. She is alone, without husband, and she has 2 young children who have been devastated as well by their father's death. She also has to be going through what any of us who have been divorced go through, the feeling of abandonment, and completely devoid of being rooted in reality because the reality is too harsh to contemplate.

At this moment less than 4 months into the grieving process, she agrees with Harvard historian Arthur Schlesinger to go through a series of interviews to be recorded for history. The historian had taken a leave from Harvard to become an assistant to JFK in the White House. He was considered the egghead of the entourage that had followed the President. There was one caveat to the agreement with Schlesinger and the President's widow. These recordings would not be released until 50 years after the audio sessions were held, and Jackie would have editorial control over any revisions she wanted to make.

Thus in January 2004, the widow and the historian began what became 7 ½ hours of recordings. The sessions were held in the Georgetown home that Jackie, Caroline, and John Jr. moved into several weeks after the assassination. The tapes are extraordinary. They have been audio enhanced for quality. You can actually hear things in the background like Jackie lighting up a cigarette, or putting ice into a drink. The emotionality is all there.
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243 of 261 people found the following review helpful By Vince Palamara on September 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A preliminary review: this book is an outstanding contribution to our understanding of one of the greatest First Ladies in our nation's history (in my opinion, only Eleanor Roosevelt and Betty Ford are her rivals). Jacqueline Kennedy comes to life in these pages, brilliantly edited and commented by renowned presidential historian Michael Beschloss. After reading so many "tell all" Jackie books that claim to have the "inside word", it is refreshing to have Jackie herself provide the first person account, not some journalist with 'sources'. There are many treasures and insights to be found in these pages, told in an intimate, straightforward fashion. As someone who has read countless books pertaining to President and Mrs. Kennedy, I thought nothing could surprise me at this late juncture. I was wrong. Caroline Kennedy has done us all a great service in providing the actual audio recordings from her mother's conversations with JFK aide Arthur Schlesinger, nobly transcribed and commentated by Beschloss.

"Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy" is required reading for all Kennedy fanatics and students of the First Lady. Again, this is merely a humble preliminary review, but, from what I have read and seen so far, I am greatly impressed. Highly recommended.
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104 of 116 people found the following review helpful By homeice on September 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
After spending the day listening to the tapes, mesmerized and unable to do little else, I have come away stunned and in awe. We have always had a somewhat packaged view of the duties of First Lady. That Mrs. Kennedy was able to speak at all so soon after the tragedy, and so succinctly in regards to her grasp on history, is a testament to her strength of character. Having read many books written about those years, some brilliant and some terrible, they are all given to surmising what the President must have felt, or how he came to certain conclusions. We now have a much clearer picture of the man. He accepted challenges and expected those around him to respond in kind. He was not petty, or small, not self conscious, or self aggrandizing. He was given to tremendous curiosity, loved journalism, would have written great books and would have steered the ship of state to a safer harbor. Much is voiced about power, what it does to people, who is attracted by the trappings and neglects the work, who becomes better for it and who loses their way. Jacqueline Kennedy did not deserve to be maligned. She should be remembered for living by three simple tenets: courage, loyalty and duty. These tapes are a great gift to the world.
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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Susanna Hutcheson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I heard rumors in the sixties that Mrs. Kennedy had made this recording, I assumed it would be full of fascinating material and I was sorry that I wouldn't live long enough to hear it. At that time, it was reported it would be vaulted until her last grandchild was dead for fifty years or something like that. I can't recall exactly.

So, fifty years later I got to hear it. It was delightful to hear her voice and I appreciated her candor. I remember she was always guarded and never at all candid during her public life. But, in these tapes, she gave little bits of gossip like what her husband really thought of this one and that one. How Lady Bird Johnson was like one of Lyndon's trained bird dogs and took out a notebook, wrote down little bits of information that Lyndon could later use.

Nothing said on the tapes needed to be vaulted. It was released at a good time, however. Everyone spoken of is dead so no one would likely to be offended but perhaps a few distant relatives or a son or daughter here and there. But even that's doubtful.

If you're under sixty, you'll very likely have no idea who she's talking about unless you know history. Since I knew the names and lived through the time, I had a special interest. Younger people might not respond to the tapes.

Are the recordings historically relevant? Probably not. They do provide the feelings the president had at certain times that might not otherwise be known.

Jackie said that Jack would send her away when she got weary of the White House. She thought that was because he was caring and thoughtful. Of course, we now know it was because he wanted to have one of his many trysts in the family quarters and needed her out of there. Did she address that on the tapes? No. Did she know it? Who knows.
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