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Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Hardcover – January 4, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Charting Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's impressive legacy as an editor at Viking and Doubleday, Lawrence draws on a wealth of sources, including interviews with more than 125 of her former publishing collaborators, and hundreds of notes left to the author by Onassis. He was also one of her authors, co-writing three books with his former wife, ballerina Gelsey Kirkland (including the controversial bestseller Dancing on My Grave). Onassis learned the hard lessons of editing early on: from Barbara Chase-Riboud, author of the novel Sally Hemings, that the best authors are those willing to be edited, and from Michael Jackson, the frustration of working with an enigmatic celebrity. This Onassis appreciation appears almost simultaneously with William Kuhn's misleadingly titled Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books, and while both will appeal primarily to publishing and media insiders, Lawrence's perceptive, impressively researched, book is the better of the two, presenting a woman with "a grand spirit of adventure and... a sense of irony about life that served as a kind of armor" for this courageous, gifted woman. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Jan.)
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Review

"A fascinating window into an aspect of Jackie Kennedy Onassis that few of us know."

--USA Today

"Greg Lawrence, whom the first lady edited, interviews her former colleagues and authors to paint a fascinating portrait of a woman who found a life in that most private of activities, reading."

--Town & Country

"Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis never wrote her memoirs, but you can tell a lot about the late First Lady's life by the books she loved, and those she edited in her nearly two decades as a publishing executive."

--O Magazine

"Charting Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's impressive legacy as an editor at Viking and Doubleday, Lawrence draws on a wealth of sources, including interviews with more than 125 of her former publishing collaborators, and hundreds of notes left to the author by Onassis. He was also one of her authors, co-writing three books with his former wife, ballerina Gelsey Kirkland (including the controversial bestseller Dancing on My Grave). . . . This Onassis appreciation appears almost simultaneously with William Kuhn's misleadingly titled Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books, and while both will appeal primarily to publishing and media insiders, Lawrence's perceptive, impressively researched, book is the better of the two, presenting a woman with 'a grand spirit of adventure and... a sense of irony about life that served as a kind of armor' for this courageous, gifted woman."

--Publishers Weekly

"One of Jacqueline Onassis’s authors dishes kindly on her impressive editorial record ... [and] fleshes out the editorial career of the enigmatic icon who was the subject of inflated tabloid coverage throughout much of her life yet who proved in her later years to be a surprisingly humble, hardworking team player, first at Viking, then Doubleday. . . . Lawrence lets rip the first-person reminiscences from those who knew and worked with her . . . [and] demonstrates how Onassis grew in confidence and professional stature in promoting books and authors she truly cared about. Chatty without being vulgar, a deeply admiring portrait of a lady the world is just now getting to know."
 
--Kirkus Reviews
 
"Jackie as Editor is a fascinating insider account of her fulfilling final years as a book editor in publishing. A must for Jackie fans."

---Sarah Bradford, author of America’s Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy, and Diana

"For Jackie Kennedy Onassis, the role of editor was just another version of her role as America’s muse. She created the Camelot story in the JFK histories, and years later she wrought the same magic upon the books she edited. I kept wondering as I read Greg Lawrence’s book what Mrs. O would have made of this delicious biography. This is a great story about a woman who had everything—men, money, power—and all she wanted was more to read. I bet she would have loved Jackie as Editor. Every book lover and fan of Jackie will be caught in its magic."

---Harriet Rubin, author of The Princessa: Machiavelli for Women and Dante in Love: The World’s Greatest Poem and How It Made History

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1St Edition edition (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312591934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312591939
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #737,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard of Connecticut VINE VOICE on January 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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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).
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Format: Hardcover
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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