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America's Queen: The Life of Jacqueline…

America's Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (2000)

by Sarah Bradford

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I started reading this biography a few years back, but abandoned Jackie's life story - according to Sarah Bradford - midway through, for no reason other than already having read countless other Kennedy biographies. Bored by another book recently, I decided to pick Jackie up again.

A better title might have been 'The Many Faces of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis', who seems to have been able to mould her personality to suit her surname, from privileged daughter to devoted wife and regal First Lady, doting mother, professional widow, socialite and native New Yorker. I can only admire her bravery in making the most of her life in every situation.

Bradford is thorough and comprehensive in her account, if 'thorough' means cribbing the biographies of every tom, dick and harry - or Jack, Lyndon and Maud Shaw - who ever met Jackie, and quoting from mysterious 'friend of a friend' sources. The options of any biographer tackling such a popular and well-documented personality must be similarly limited, of course, but the end result is still seems slightly lazy and 'grubby'. There is gushing praise from those who loved Jackie, scurrilous gossip from those with an axe to grind, along with the occasional documented fact, so the reader is almost left to choose their own path - did she have an affair with Bobby Kennedy after Jack's death? What were her true feelings for Aristotle Onassis? You decide.

I still have a massive crush on Jack Kennedy, in spite of all his failings (maybe even because of them), and Jackie too, so I don't mind reading the wheat and the chaff of biographies. Bradford's is easy to read and comparatively brief, at least. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Feb 19, 2016 |
A very comprehensive and well written book. Very detailed and pretty shocking to read about the truth behind the image. ( )
  Katyefk | Feb 24, 2015 |
A decent book... given the author's credentials, I expected more fact and less hearsay/ gossip... a bit too gossipy at times for me...and the amount of time spent on the philandering of the Kennedy men toook away from the life of Jackie... so many anecdotes about affairs not only of JFK but of dad and brothers... didn't understand how that shaped Jackie... it clearly did, but wasn't articulated well. In any event, Jackie was characterized as a woman with a strong sense of self, who focused on her passions and her steadfast love of her children. ( )
  JoWright | Dec 15, 2010 |
This is a very negative bio of Jackie. The author puts Jacki in a bad light in every other sentence. ( )
  dimajazz | Oct 19, 2010 |
Very interesting and informative. Hard to work out some connections/history as I'm not American but a good read. ( )
  janeht | Oct 5, 2010 |
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Introduction - The President's thirty-five-year-old widow was marble behind her heavy black veil, white marble with the strong features of an ancient statie, noble in her frozen grief, as if she represented all the heroes' widows down the centuries since Andromache mourned Hector outside the walls of Troy.
Chapter 1 - She was born with a sense of theater, of carefully choreographed exits and entrances, an eagerly awaited baby, who arrived an improbable six weeks late in Southampton Hospital, Long Island, on July 28, 1929.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0141002204, Paperback)

Fresh from her well-received life of Queen Elizabeth II, the English historian and biographer Sarah Bradford turns her hand to America's own answer to royalty, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Painstakingly detailed, impressively fair, the result is the most definitive account yet of a woman who captured the imagination of the American public like no First Lady before or after her. Bradford seems to have interviewed almost everyone who had ever been intimate with Onassis, including George Plimpton, Gore Vidal, Joan Kennedy, and even a few ex-lovers. Most notably of all, Jackie's sister Lee Radziwill speaks with unexpected frankness about the mixture of rivalry and affection that marked their relationship since childhood. Jackie-lovers, take note: this is no hagiography, and its subject certainly comes off as no saint. As gracious as this American icon could be, she also had moments of coldness and even greed, including a particularly shocking moment by the bedside of Ari Onassis's dying son. Yet, in the end, non-airbrushed anecdotes like these only serve to make this most private of public figures even more fascinating. Jackie was, as Bradford writes, "a complex woman of many facets, concealed insecurities and intricate defense mechanisms, a strong urge toward the limelight contrasting with a desire for privacy and concealment.... Behind the mask of beauty and fame lay a shrewd mind, a ruthless judgment of people, antennae finely turned to any sign of pretentiousness or pomposity, and a wry, even raunchy sense of humor." The figure who emerges from subsequent pages is as compelling as the heroine of any novel, and it is to Bradford's credit that she doesn't seem to have fallen completely under her subject's spell. Her approach is sympathetic, but never fawning; candid, but never sensationalistic. For those who are curious not about Jackie's glamour but about its source, America's Queen offers an unprecedented look at the flesh-and-blood woman behind the Camelot myth. --Carlotta DeWitt

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:36 -0400)

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A portrait of an American icon chronicles the rise of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis from "debutante of the year" in 1947 through her subsequent high-powered marriages to JFK and Aristotle Onassis.

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