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The Private Passion of Jackie Kennedy Onassis: Portrait of a Rider Hardcover – April 12, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It could be argued that every aspect of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s life has been examined ad nauseum, but Moon appears to have struck upon an overlooked treasure in this tribute to the former First Lady’s lifelong love of horses. Moon, the author and founder, editor and publisher of The Middleburg Life (a newspaper for Virginia horse country), tells the story of Jackie’s passion for horses from age five through the end of her life. Jackie began riding very young and by the age of five participated in the East Hampton Horse Show. The photos of Jackie with her mother and father, Janet and Jack Bouvier, and on her beloved Chestnut mare, Danseuse, hint at the beauty and poise that would become her trademarks. Like her mother, Jackie grew into an accomplished equestrian. And Moon argues that riding brought the First Lady the solace and solitude that she craved; she would return to her horses again and again at moments of joy and sorrow. While her husband listened to Marilyn Monroe sing her breathy rendition of Happy Birthday at Madison Square Garden in New York, Jackie was at a horse show. After his assassination, horseback riding became "a significant part of her recuperative routine." Divided into short sections, the writing here is easy to read and conversational rather than historical, and the abundant photos speak volumes: Jackie riding with her children, Caroline and John; ponies on the White House Lawn with John F. Kennedy and the Secret Service; Jackie carefree in formal horse attire. Moon has constructed a must-have for horse lovers but also a touching tribute to Onassis; one of the few that the very private woman might have enjoyed herself.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Vicky Moon is the author of The Official Middleburg Life Cookbook; The Middleburg Mystique: A Peek Inside the Gates of Middleburg, Virginia; Best Dressed Southern Salads; and A Sunday Horse: Inside the Grand Prix Show Jumping Tour. She has also written for the Washington Post, People, Town and Country, and House and Garden. She lives in Middleburg, Virginia, with her husband, sportswriter Leonard Shapiro, and her son.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Design; 1st edition (April 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060524111
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060524111
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 1.1 x 11.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,224,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I used to hear stories from a hairdresser in Atoka, VA that she remembered Jackie and her family and how they used to come out to Middleburg all the time and were not at all snooty.

So when I saw this book displayed prominently in a Middleburg, VA bookstore - and saw that it had been written by a Middleburg resident, Vicky Moon, who had heard many of the local residents talk of how they had known Jackie and her family, and how they admired Jackie's horsemanship and her devotion to her horses - I just had to buy it.

This is a big coffee table book, with wonderful photos that take you through Jackie's horseriding childhood, to a pony (Macaroni) at the White House, the private retreat and the horses they had in Middleburg (at Glen-Ora), to the solace the Kennedy family took in horses when they moved to New York.

I don't agree at all with the negative comments made by other reviewers about the quality of the writing in the book. The writing is fine! The book is a collection of photos, in chronological order, and the author's narration is an excellent companion piece to each photo - not too much and not too little. I also appreciated how each photo was placed near the accompanying text - many books frustrate the reader by placing illustrations or photos far away from the text referring to it.

This book opened a magical door to a side of Jackie Kennedy I never knew. Horse lovers and Jackie fans will love this book. The photographs are wonderful and take you back to a time and place that I wish I could go back to. I loved this book when I bought it, and I have looked through it several times since then. It is worth the money.
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Format: Hardcover
Vicky Moon's latest book, THE PRIVATE PASSION OF JACKIE KENNEDY ONASSIS: PORTRAIT OF A RIDER, features not only lovely photographs of the former First Lady, but new and interesting biographical information about the famous Jackie "O." Stretching from the time Jackie's mother first propped her on a horse at the tender age of one in 1930, until her death in 1994, Jackie Kennedy's love of horse become factors which molded her into the woman that she became. What I found intriguing about this book, besides the great photographs, was learning how emotionally difficult Jackie's early life had been due to her parent's unhappy marriage, and her obsession with horses which seemed to stem from her desperately unhappy home life. Her horses, throughout her life, offered a much-cherished diversion, even when the sport's association with elitism and exclusivity in the minds of many Americans, caused concern in the White House when her husband was President.

THE PRIVATE PASSION OF JACKIE KENNEDY ONASSIS is written in a style that will always hold the reader's interest. I recommend this book, not only for those who are already familiar with Jackie's life, but those who desire to develop a deeper understanding of her character. How can you discuss a famous subject without taking a very close look at her family, her social life and her true passion....in this case, her adoration of horses. It's enjoyable reading.
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Format: Hardcover
The author did an exceptional job describing Jackie's love of horses. The pictures are wonderful showing Jackie riding for pleasure and in competition in horse shows and hunt meets.

The indepth history of Jackie's family all involved in equestrian riding is also remarkable.

I truly enjoyed the book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When John F. Kennedy was elected president, I was five years old. That was also the year I started taking horseback riding lessons at Potomac Horse Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland. By the year he was assassinated, I was in my first season at horse shows in Virginia and Maryland. We lived on a farm in Great Falls, Virginia, and I showed my pony every weekend, from March to September, eventually moving on to Hunters as I grew up. Jackie Kennedy, and eventually her daughter and her nieces and nephews (Robert Kennedy's children who lived just up the road in McLean) were just other nice people on the horse show circuit.

I saw Jackie Kennedy Onassis through the eyes of the horse-crazy kid I was in the sixties. She was beautiful, tragic and quite a talented rider -- always perfectly turned out, always on beautiful horses. She was also approachable in that familiar milieu. She had a conversation with my mother one day as I was competing in a Small Pony Hunter Under Saddle class at Upperville. I remember seeing her with a small group of women standing by the rail as the class was being judged. My mother bred Bassett hounds, and she told me later that the women were discussing dog breeding and bloodlines.

This book is a lovely tribute to the quiet passion of horsemanship which was infused in Jackie Kennedy. I share her passion, and I know that my love of horses has helped me through some terrible times in my own life. The book is also a retrospective of a dead era. The photographs are wonderful because they so beautifully depict a time which is sadly long gone. I still compete in horse shows today, but they are nothing like they used to be.
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