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298 of 323 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The people bashing this book (especially those that haven't even read the book) merely b/c the author had the AUDACITY to tell her story need to get over themselves. Of COURSE this is truth. I believe every word of it. It is well documented that President Kennedy had scores of other women. It is also true that the author was outed by another author. John Kennedy was the most powerful man in the world. He was dashing and handsome and incredibly charismatic...all these things also well and endlessly documented. Why is it so hard to believe that a very young, incredibly naive and sheltered young woman would find herself in this situation. This was a different time. If the president wanted young girls in his bed, he had them. Nobody batted an eyelash. The legend of Camelot and the Kennedy clan make for wonderful stories but the truth is that John Kennedy was human. He was a man raised in an elite world in which he was groomed his entire life to become the president. He did whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. These young girls were at his disposal. Period. Trying to imagine being a 19 year old virgin with zero experience with men, being led to a bed by president Kennedy makes ME speechless. Yes she could have said no. She could have walked away...in theory. Yet his power over her was just as strong as any force on this planet. It would take a very mature and strong 19 year old to tell the president to back off. NOBODY said no to Kennedy. Not even grown men and certainly not young girls. The author of this book isn't painting him as someone who assaulted her. She is being very honest about being swept up and away by the situation and the momentum of the man and his incredible presence and charisma. I think she is brave to tell her story. Listen if you want to, or don't listen, but don't call her a liar just b/c you don't like the way truth grates against the fairy tale in your head.
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786 of 867 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The insaneness of the ladies of The View made me order this - Barbara Walters and Whoopie Goldberg in essence scolded this woman for writing this book, asking this woman if she had thought about Caroline Kennedy's feelings??!! I was STUNNED!! WHo cares about Caroline Kennedy! Did Jack Kennedy ever think about his own actions - did he think about what he was doing to an impressionable teenager? Did he think about HIS LEGACY and his grandchildren?? SHAME ON YOU BARBARA - but I guess you'll still get invited the Caroline's hoUse to dinner because you did try!!! SHAME ON YOU WHOOPIE - you should have empathy towards someone who was taken advantage of......you're both hypocrites - which is why I am buying this book - I hope this woman makes millions - and that other young women read it - perhaps they will think twice when being manipulated not only by powerful men - but by old ladies who should know better - TWO THUMPS ON THE HEAD - ONE FOR WHOOPIE AND ONE FOR BARBARA!!
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369 of 408 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book tells the story of Mimi Beardsley Alford, who as a 19 year old White House intern, had a sexual relationship with President Kennedy for an approximate 18 month period from June, 1962 to November, 1963. A relatively short book, it provides information about Alford's family background, her education, her affair with JFK,the fallout that came from keeping the relationship secret and then having it outed 40+ years later.
While the veracity of her claims have come under a lot of scrutiny, I tend to think that she is telling the truth. I also get it in regard to how a young woman can get hoodwinked into a sordid affair with a powerful man.
What I don't get is why this very short book was written. I saw Alford on a 60 minute television interview with Meredith Viera tonight after I finished this book. Truthfully, the interview basically covered the main points covered in the book. While on tv and in this book Alford remembers JFK with fondness, I thought JFK came off badly and at times really quite perverse. It was very obvious that Alford was one of many women that JFK used for sex. Speaking of her personal experiences with the president, Alford was blunt but not overtly graphic. Mostly she talked about the sexual liasons in the White House and on the road, playing what she called the "waiting game" which consisted of being sequestered in a hotel room(to avoid detection) until JFK had time for sex. She also had a pregnancy scare which turned out to be a false alarm, though first friend Dave Powers flew into action and managed to provide her with the phone number of an abortionist. Apparently the realities of her situation didn't shake up Alford enough as the relationship with Kennedy sputtered on for another year.
I guess as a woman in 2012, a lot of Alford's youthful reasoning regarding this relationship when it was going on sounds ludicrous. However, if you put it into perspective of the way a young woman might have thought in 1963 it probably seems more plausible. That Alford appears to have been extremely naive adds to that credibility. When all this was going on, she appears to have given little thought to the entire thing except to maintain the veil of secrecy that was in place to protect Kennedy. The best way I can describe the whole thing is that Mimi was extremely naive and was victimized on a lot of levels.
Interestingly enough, while all of this was going on it was an open secret to employees of the White House and the press who well aware of the president's activities. Kennedy wasn't concerned with subtlety on most levels and was unbelievably arrogant as many people in a position of power can be.
Does Kennedy's legend take another blow with this book? Probably not. This sort of thing has been out in print for years, but it seems like this is just another dent in his armor. He comes across even creepier than I imagined, but that's just my opinion.
In the end, I didn't dislike this book but it left me feeling bad that her youthful errors in judgement had long lasting and unhappy ramifications that haunted her for so much of her adult life. It also left me with a lot of questions that Alford concedes she cannot answer because she never thought about them at the time.
In the end, reading this book will get people talking and may alter the public perception of what kind of person JFK was.
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90 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I stayed up last night into the wee hours reading this book. I believe every single word of it. I have absolutely no sympathy for the chorus that is singing "What will Caroline think?" HER father should have thought of that....not Mimi. Having been a young girl once upon a time in Washington, D.C., I can understand exactly how Mimi got caught up in things. She was no match for her predator. Do I believe that this impacted her marriage and future happiness? Yessssss. Do I appreciate her honesty and candor and courage for writing the book? Yessssss. Do I hope that her honest effort to accurately tell her side of a story makes her wealthy? Yesssss. I have absolutely no patience for the chorus who are chirping that this is made of whole cloth because JFK is dead. There is PLENTY of corroborative evidence. Congrats, Mimi. Thanks for your courage. Once again, for those critics who accuse Mimi of making this up, do a little research before you spout off.
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100 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. I pre-purchased it and opened it on Kindle lastnight. I read most of it lastnight and then just finished it today. It was hard to put down, not because of juicy details but for the real feelings she shares and the interesting way she dissects herself and her own feelings. I loved her real time analysis of herself back then and herself while married to Tony and then as a woman who finally found her voice. I really loved reading her entire description of what it was like, what she went through, how she felt. I cried when she talked about how she felt when JFK was killed. I would definitely recommend this book.
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71 of 82 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I didn't watch it but I read Mimi was attacked by Barbara Walters while a guest on The View. Babs as well as others wanted to know.....Why write the book now? Won't this hurt his family? Like his family didn't know JFK was a hound dog?

This book is much more than a tell all sex book that some want it to be. This is a book about a young gal at age .....NINETEEN folks!.....who was swept away by the president's pimp who guided her into the web of a man, our President. This book is about how secrets will eat at you and I for one know that to be true. This book is about a president who has been put on a pedestal for decades....whose Camelot life many want to replicate. Oh Really? Still want to? Read this book and it will be the straw.

Marilyn Monroe? Ok. But a 19 year old whose frontal lobe hasn't connected and won't for a couple of more years!.....has not reached the stage of where one truly realizes choices do have consequences.

Mimi is not the manipulator....she was manipulated......overcome by the most powerful man in the world. She kept her secret until outed just a few years ago. She wants to tell her side of the story. She wants to set the record straight. She's completely honest.....only to be judged by Barbara Walters?! Don't you just love it when the media puts down the people they exploit for their own fame.....how has Babs become famous?!....manipulation! What gaul!

I recommend every young gal read this book.....to be armed with the lessons of Mimi so every young gal will not make the same mistake and not believe they are someone special if someone in power takes them under their wing only to abuse their trust and innocence. Yes, it's extremely rare that a President will abuse his power in such a way....well, Monica could take issue....... but it could be a teacher, a boss, a coach, etc.

Mimi, thank you for your bravery. I was thrilled to read the ending and how your life is now. Good for you.
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136 of 161 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I preordered and opened it up on my Kindle this morning. It's hard to put down maybe because this is my timeframe. I think it must have been hard for the author to write. She shows a lot of insight into her thinking at the time and the culture of that privileged subset of the population in the '60's. I doubt that she's doing it for the money. More of a catharsis I imagine. I do feel sorry for Caroline Kennedy however. Must be hard to read these things about your father. Marilyn Monroe is one thing. Seducing a 19 year old virgin in your wife's bedroom is something else.
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65 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is a book for EVERY GIRL . . . I share that 19 year old era with Mimi . . . I share the Invisibility, the strict morals, and the naivete of that period. More importantly and of greatest impact, I shared the aftermanth of keeping a SECRET for 40 years. While my SECRET was not the same . . . it was as familially and personally pivotal and emotionally crippling. At age 64 have only just revealed it to my own daughter. While Mimi relates the details of her 'relationship' with sensitivity and grace . . . this book is not about sex . . . it is about the - persepective of the 19-year-old SELF and the unpreparedness to both perceive and cope with situations of fascination & power involving men. This volume is about AFTERMATH . . . of trauma and its Survivability. How tragically superficial to have it viewed and reviewed through the narrow lense of sensationalism. It is NOT about JFK it could have been any man in a position of authority and power in the life of a teenage girl. I extend to you, Mimi, my heartfelt and sincere APPRECIATION.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It seems that the public's fascination with all-things Kennedy is in no danger of fading away. Between mini-series, conspiracy theories about President Kennedy's assassination, and various books, the family is still in the news - even though their political influence has waned. The latest news concerns this book written by Mimi Alford, who had an 18 month liaison with President Kennedy.

I remember the reference to Mimi in Robert Dallek's superb biography of JFK. Personally, I don't think these revelations amount to much of a controversy. It's been known for decades that the marriage between John and Jacqueline Kennedy was not particularly faithful.

As documented in Once Upon a Secret, the relationship between the President and Mimi Beardsley - as she was then known - was certainly not a love affair. Yet, based on Alford's recounting of several incidents between them, it became more than just a sexual liaison. Kennedy seemed genuinely interested in her life, confided to her his fears during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and wept in her presence while reading condolence letters following the death of his infant son, Patrick. It was around this time, August 1963, that JFK and Mimi stopped having sex, although they continued to see each other. To use modern parlance, they were "friends with benefits" although given the disparity between their ages and job titles, it was a very unbalanced friendship.

It's clear that Alford doesn't feel she was psychologically damaged by her relationship with President Kennedy. Rather, it was the need to keep it a secret that was destructive to her later in life. The demand for secrecy started with the affair itself - but the events of November 22, 1963 brought things into stark relief. When she learned of President Kennedy's assassination, Alford broke down in front of her fiancé, Tony. When Tony questioned her for being upset, Mimi confessed to the affair. She relates that Tony's reaction to the news was "violently explosive", and included an ultimatum that she was never to mention the affair to anyone. At that point, Mimi shut down emotionally, entering into a 26 year long marriage that was mostly unhappy. Mimi seldom allowed herself to think about her time with JFK and sold or destroyed gifts he had given her. By the 1980s, her marriage was crumbling around her, and she found solace in running and a brief affair with another runner. By that time, Mimi had revealed the JFK affair to a few close friends and relatives. After the divorce, she dated several men, but found her need for secrecy impaired her ability to communicate on many levels. As she tried to break through these barriers, she experienced a triumph. After a rather uncouth man suggested a second date, she bluntly replied "Let's not" and walked away, pumping her fist in triumph. It was only after Dallek's book appeared, and she was revealed to be "the Mimi", that she met a man she could be totally honest with.

Dallek has stated that he's astounded by some of the seamier information in Alford's book. Dallek's astonishment comes from the dichotomy between JFK's personal behavior and his obvious intellect - along with the measured, sober decisions he made as President. But after many years of reading history, I've come to the conclusion that there is no correlation between private morality and public leadership. George Washington married Martha for her money and his false teeth were not made of wood - they came from his slaves' mouths. Thomas Jefferson slept with his slave - who was also his wife's half-sister. No one serious has ever questioned Washington's or Jefferson's capacities as leaders. On the other hand, there have been numerous presidents who honored their marital vows, yet were disasters in office - no need to name them here. Whatever the revelations about JFK's extra-marital hijinks, he was certainly the better alternative in 1960 than his opponent, Richard Nixon - a pathologically dishonest, secretive man who was nevertheless faithful to his wife, and who had no known sexual compulsions.

This is a short but eventful book. Alford's writing is crisp and to the point, her recollections of her liaison with JFK blunt but never lascivious. Ultimately, the message of this book is not political or historical, it's personal: Secrets destroy the soul, and often radiate fallout far beyond the initial protagonists. That's the lesson of the JFK-Mimi story.
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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
It was hard to put this book down. I felt a lot of emotion reading the book. Shock, disgust, sadness,
sympathy. You will never look at JFK the same again. Although you can plainly see that he was a predator
and what he did was disgusting, in the end you feel sadness for her and for him. In my opinion it was partly a
love story. I really believe that JFK did care about her. I hope that she does not blame herself because there are not many
young women her age (19) that could have resisted the President. This is truly an amazing story. I am sad that the
author had to keep this a secret for so long. She is not a terrible person for writing this. I feel that she did not
embellish anything.
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