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Reading Jackie by William Kuhn

Reading Jackie (edition 2010)

by William Kuhn

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127694,816 (3.48)None
Title:Reading Jackie
Authors:William Kuhn
Collections:Your library
Tags:Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Publishing, Doubleday, Biography

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Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books by William Kuhn



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Very good read. Im an editor so I look for books (fairly rare) about editors. I recommend this book. Ordered one of the books she did in the 80s about india. A lovely book too. This book set me thinking. ( )
  idiotgirl | Dec 25, 2015 |
"People's libraries in Wharton's day were like their clothes. You wrapped yourself not just in beautiful dresses but in beautiful books. People's tastes were formed and defined by what they read. Their choice of book was a key that unlocked their most intimate selves."

From the intro.

Jackie loved to read. Loved a quiet nook to get away and read about the things she loved. She was an introvert and protected her privacy throughout her life. Though some of the books she supported and worked on pierced the veil of privacy that others tried to maintain.

The idea here for the book is interesting, defining a person that refused to write her own memoirs. She said "I want to live my life, not record it." So here in the pages of this book is biography and an examination of the books she chose to edit and support and what that revealed about her.

This is not a comprehensive biography, rather is focuses on the question of who Jackie was as a person, analyzing her personality and focusing the history of her on the later part of her life after both of her husbands. It relates anecdotes of earlier times but does not spend much time there.

This book focuses on the positive things about Jackie. It does not analyze her or her shortcomings or opinions (No comment about her negative feelings about Martin Luther King for instance). The focus is on the Jackie that loved beautiful things, shared that love with others she cared about, and how she helped people express their joy in beautiful things in book form.

The first few chapters were the best and full of beautiful thoughts that forced me to stop and think or grab a pen and underline something poignant (Something I rarely do).
( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |

In addition to being one of the most iconic First Ladies in history, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was also quite the accomplished editor, with a career at Viking and Doubleday that spanned the last two decades of her life. It’s always struck me as a bit sexist that so much attention has been paid to Jackie’s personal style and her handling of her husbands infamous infidelities, but little has been paid to her intellect. Jackie (it feels weird to refer to her as Kennedy or Onassis, because she was so much more than her relationships with these men) was a voracious reader, and in Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books, William Kuhn takes the road less traveled and explores her life through the books she edited and helped bring to the public. He asserts, which is a genius angle, that we can learn a ton about what Jackie valued through the lens of the authors she championed and topics she explored.

Some of the books Jackie edited:

~Allure by Diana Vreeland
~The Ballad of John and Yoko by Jonathan Cott and Christine Doudna
~The Secrets of Marie Antoinette by Olivier Bernier
~Dancing on my Grave: An Autobiography by Gelsey Kirkland
~Blood Memory by Martha Graham
~The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
~Amy the Dancing Bear by Carly Simon
~Skies in Blossom: The Nature Poetry of Emily Dickinson

Kuhn’s writing is fairly good. It didn’t knock my socks off but it got the job done. There were chapters that read more like a research paper and lost track of the intended audience a bit, but there were also chapters that were tight and well-developed. I feel like, unless you’re super interested in or have some background knowledge of the publishing industry or are a devoted bibliophile, this might read a bit dry…the book really focuses on her professional life, so if you’re looking for yet another biography that covers her relationships with JFK or Onassis, this isn’t the book for you. But I am Kuhn’s target audience, and the information he presented was incredibly interesting. The examination of projects she chose to champion really provides some fresh insight into what Jackie was passionate about, and really helps to flesh out a more dynamic picture of who she was: Elegant, intensely private, and incredibly intelligent.

Rubric rating: 6.5 Not sure I’ll actively seek out more titles by William Kuhn, but I absolutely found the information he provided interesting. ( )
  jaclyn_michelle | Aug 24, 2013 |
This is a library book, and I'm very glad I didn't buy it. I'm about a quarter of the way through it and just not enamoured; frankly, I don't know that I'll bother to finish it.

The premise of the book is good. Unfortunately, I just don't find it to be very well-written. Something about the writing style reminds me of something I might have written in high school. Many of his conclusions seems to be pretty broad and far-fetched. As an example: he claims that Jackie was interested in the occult, based upon her comments on a mansucript that the witch being described should be more fully developed. By and large, the book seems to be random facts and tidbits, randomly strung together. It lacks cohesiveness.

I hope to also read, "Jackie as Editor." Perhaps that one will do a better job with the theme. ( )
  amandamay83 | Apr 2, 2013 |
I liked this look at the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis through the books that she edited and at her lifetime as a reader. I've always had some sort of fascination with her, from the time in grade school when I donated fifty cents towards the new Kennedy Presidential Library fund and received, like everyone else, a thank you note from her.

But I am also fascinated with reading and books, and William Kuhn's combination of these topics appealed to me. The book includes a listing of all the books that Mrs. Onassis edited and I was surprised at the number of them, and also, that I own a few of them. The stories of the work that went into editing and publishing the books, as well as the authors and other personalities involved were always interesting. I liked that chapters were based on book topics and general areas of interest, and that many photos were placed at the point of the narrative where they were most pertinent. (There is also a central photo section.)

Jackie, herself, was portrayed as someone very human, rather than larger than life. This may be in part because many of the sources (interviewees) were quoted as speaking with some candor, as they remembered her foibles, as well as grace and dignity.

I appreciate Bill Kuhn making his book available to me through Member Giveaways. I am pleased to have it and to have read it. ( )
  y2pk | Feb 11, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385530994, Hardcover)

A Look Inside Reading Jackie

Jackie and ICP director Cornell Capa
Courtesy of the International Center of Photography
JFK and Jackie at their wedding
Courtesy of Toni Frissell--Sidney Frissell Stafford
Jacqueline Kennedy, 1957. She told her Doubleday colleague Ray Roberts that she remembered the picture being taken at “10 a.m. in full evening dress and he scared me to death!”
Courtesy of Yousuf Karsh

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:00 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis never wrote a memoir, but she told her life story and revealed herself in intimate ways through the nearly 100 books she brought into print during the last two decades of her life as an editor at Viking and Doubleday. Based on archives and interviews with Jackie's authors, colleagues, and friends, this book mines this significant period of her life to reveal both the serious and the mischievous woman underneath the glamorous public image. Though Jackie had a reputation for avoiding publicity, she willingly courted controversy in her books. She was the first editor to commission a commercially successful book telling the story of Thomas Jefferson's relationship with his female slave. Her publication of Gelsey Kirkland's attack on dance icon George Balanchine caused another storm. Jackie rarely spoke of her personal life, but many of her books ran parallel to, echoed, and emerged from her own experience. She was the editor behind bestsellers on the assassinations of Tsar Nicholas II and John Lennon, and in another book she paid tribute to the allure of Marilyn Monroe and Maria Callas. Her other projects take us into territory she knew well: journeys to Egypt and India, explorations of the mysteries of female beauty and media exploitation, into the minds of photographers, art historians, and the designers at Tiffany & Co. Many Americans regarded Jackie as the paragon of grace, but few knew her as the woman sitting on her office floor laying out illustrations, or flying to California to persuade Michael Jackson to write his autobiography. This book provides a compelling behind the scenes look at Jackie at work: how she commissioned books and nurtured authors, as well as how she helped to shape stories that spoke to her strongly. Jackie is remembered today for her marriages to JFK and to Aristotle Onassis, but her real legacy is the books that reveal the tastes, recollections, and passions of an independent woman.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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William Kuhn's book Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books was available from LibraryThing Member Giveaway.

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William Kuhn is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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