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Mrs. Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy Years Hardcover – October 30, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Asserting that Jacqueline Kennedy's role in shaping her husband's presidency has been under-examined, Leaming (Katharine Hepburn) offers a corrective in this intimate look at a very private woman. Initially inclined to keep herself as much in the background as possible, says Leaming, Jacqueline Kennedy became an increasingly visible and vocal first lady as she realized how effective she could be as an image maker. It's in this capacity that Leaming convincingly depicts her as being instrumental in shaping the course of her husband's administration: charming, intuitive and socially savvy, she was clearly adept at recognizing precisely how to win over any given individual or audience, and to convince them to see her husband in a favorable light. While many world leaders, for example, were initially inclined to view John F. Kennedy as a playboy and an intellectual lightweight, Jackie skillfully massaged their perceptions until they began to take him more seriously and consequently to be much more responsive to his foreign policy agenda. But even as she worked hard on his behalf, Jack continually betrayed her with his legendary infidelities; the impact of this on Jackie's psyche is also a major theme here. Indeed, this is as much a psychological biography as a political one, and Leaming explores Jackie's complex and often painful inner life with subtlety and compassion. Unabashedly sympathetic toward her protagonist, Leaming provides a fascinating glimpse into the psychodynamics of one of the 20th century's most famous marriages, and her assertion that Jackie Kennedy deserves more credit than she's typically gotten for her husband's successes is persuasive. 32 pages b&w photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)Forecast: Leaming's bio of Katharine Hepburn was a bestseller, and one can predict generous sales for this title, which Leaming will promote in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., including an appearance on the Today show.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Despite the welter of material on Jacqueline Kennedy, biographer Leaming has indeed produced an original and compelling portrait of Jackie as first lady. Leaming has plumbed primary sources heretofore unused (such as the letters of Harold Macmillan) and conducted interviews with sometime friends and associates, perhaps more willing to talk now that Jackie has died. Leaming makes a persuasive case for Jackie's substantive contribution as first lady in the role of diplomat. Jackie did the research and softened up visiting leaders, who then met the president already impressed with his administration. Leaming also explains Jackie's highly criticized absences from the White House: she was fleeing her husband's flagrant womanizing. Leaming's extensive documentation of his shameless conduct and his cruelty to his wife is breathtaking. (Her theories about why they married and why Jackie stood for such treatment are less dispositive.) The publisher plans a national publicity campaign. Public libraries should stock up, but they won't be able to meet the certain demand no matter how many copies they own. Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, DC
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Its always been known JFK was not faithful but I didnt know how bad it was until I read this book. Wow! I cant believe how strong she was to endure his public and humiliating behavior. It actually kind of changed my perception of him, what a jerk. Seriously. All other books sort of breezed through his behavior and minimized it. Barbara's book details the affairs, with whom and how shockingly frequent they were.
Dont get me wrong, the book isnt just a tell all about that sad part of their lives. It gives a wonderfully vivid portrait of their lives as a whole. I will admit I did rush through the parts detailing his political moves and missteps just to get to the mention of Jackie again.
The only thing I thought was odd that was she left out the part about John Jr. saluting his father at the funeral. I mean, everyone is familiar with that touching photo but no mention is made of it in the book. it tells of jackie working to teach John to salute and him always doing it with the wrong hand but fails to mention that as his fathers casket passed by he did it perfectly.
I did love this book though and would recommend it.