It is nearly fifty years since the horrific assassination in Dallas, and during that time the appeal of John and Jackie Kennedy, a uniquely glamorous presidential couple, frozen in eternal youth by the terrible and sudden truncation of their reign, has if anything only deepened. Until now, however, no single book has gone beyond the gossip and the ...
It is nearly fifty years since the horrific assassination in Dallas, and during that time the appeal of John and Jackie Kennedy, a uniquely glamorous presidential couple, frozen in eternal youth by the terrible and sudden truncation of their reign, has if anything only deepened. Until now, however, no single book has gone beyond the gossip and the conspiracy theories to tell the whole story of the Kennedy White House - soberly, comprehensively and compellingly. In a major work of history Sally Bedell Smith now does just that. Grace and Power is a compassionate and poignant chronicle of pivotal historical events seen from the inside out, behind the headlines and the carefully staged television appearances. When John Kennedy entered the White House he was only 43; his stunning wife Jackie, astonishingly, was just 31. Amidst all the superficial opulence and lavish partying, we see political crises like the Bay of Pigs and the burgeoning clamour for civil rights from the perspective of a president often barely well enough to appear in public, and a lonely young woman wounded by her husband's insouciant philandering and trying to build a new identity for herself. We see how John Kennedy constructed his circle of advisers, lieutenants and officials with equal measures of altruism and expediency, and the claustrophobic dynamics of the Camelot court. With immense pathos, Sally Bedell's narrative shows how, at the very moment when the President and First Lady had come through the first difficult years of his term and could begin to contemplate a campaign for re-election, a sniper's bullets ended everything and forced Jackie Kennedy to assume the biggest role of her life. Above all, Grace and Power enables us to see the Kennedys and their inner circle beset by the sudden turns of history while, at the same time, their style and politics were shaping the history of America and indeed the world. For those too young to remember the era of the Kennedys as much as for those who will never forget it, Grace and Power is the classic account of a historical moment that left an indelible mark on the last four decades.
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Publishers Weekly, 2004-05-03 Smith, a Vanity Fair contributing editor (and biographer of Princess Diana and Pamela Harriman, among others), does a workmanlike job of narrating familiar scenes from the Kennedy White House, aka Camelot. Although publicity for this volume is at pains to emphasize that Smith has interviewed "scores of Kennedy intimates, including many who have never spoken before," the few new witnesses unearthed by Smith attended the same parties, concerts and picnics as all the other sources we've heard from in previous years. So once again Smith waltzes through portraits of the Kennedys entertaining, with greatly varying degrees of success, the likes of Gore Vidal, Ben Bradlee, William Walton and JFK's frequent "squeeze" Mary Meyer. Not a few of the people who loom large in Smith's volume (Bradlee, Theodore White, Paul "Red" Fay, Vidal, Lee Radziwill, Walton, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Dave Powers and Ken O'Donnell among them) have previously-as Smith's profuse footnotes attest-written their own accounts of the Camelot scenes in which they play. Endeavoring to interweave her somewhat redundant yet eloquently rendered social history with the political history of the Kennedy administration, Smith tends on occasion to oversimplify and understate major strategic discussions and initiatives, these being sketched much better in such books as Richard Reeves's President Kennedy. For those who seek yet another highly readable account of the White House milieu shaped by John and Jackie Kennedy-the place we've all gotten to know so well through the years-Smith's book does the job. 48 pages of photos not seen by PW. Agent, Amanda Urban. (On sale May 4) Forecast: With a 10-city tour and author appearances on the Today show and The Early Show, and an excerpt in the May issue of Vanity Fair, the 100,000 first printing should sell briskly. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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