A Change of Pace

Sasha: My Winter Adventurer

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy

I'm aware that I'm always saying that I was lucky to get this, lucky to grab that, as far as books are concerned. But I really and truly lucked out, when in the month of the 50th anniversary of the death of JFK, I was able to get a hold of the 8 hours of CD audio interviews of Jacqueline Kennedy sharing her memories with Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., the historian and colleague of President Kennedy, who wrote A Thousand Days, not long after President Kennedy's death.

In March 1964 he sat with Jacqueline Kennedy in her Georgetown townhouse, a mere three and a half months after the assassination. Schlesinger, a man Jacqueline trusted implicitly, probed her memory for details of her life with John F. Kennedy since their marriage in 1953. He also asked her to describe in depth her role as First Lady, including the story of her restoration of the White House.

When Schlesinger wrote the first drafts of A Thousand Days, he incorporated this material, of course, but when Jacqueline saw the book in a nearly finalized draft, she freaked. By this time, she had been unrelentingly harassed and hounded by the press, who never strayed from the sidewalk outside of her home. Driven frantic to preserve some vestiges of her privacy, she demanded that Schlesinger omit all references to her relationship with the president, including her views on all issues dealing with her husband's political and family life.

Schlesinger reluctantly complied and omitted every reference.

Jacqueline insisted that the taped interviews be vaulted until 2013, fifty years after her husband's death. Jacqueline died in 1994. Caroline Kennedy, as the sole legatee after John Jr's' death, decided that the tapes should be available to the public in time for the 50th anniversary of her father's death. So, by 2011, these conversations were made available in book form and in audio CD, with a long, illuminating foreword by Caroline Kennedy and an introduction by Michael Beschloss, the well-known presidential historian.

 I'm halfway through the 4th of  8 tapes now, and I'm delighted to hear Jacqueline's personal views and insights of her husband and the politicians and political world surrounding him. She hid a great deal, but the depth of her love for her husband is evident.

If you have any interest, I urge you to listen to the inteviews, because they provide a unique viewpoint and perspective that has NEVER been presented in histories thus far.

6 comments:

  1. Hi, Katrina,
    I suppose the name for Eleventh is uninspiring, but its name conjures up such incredible wilderness for me. My good friend Sue lives in California, but spends close to three months here from mid-summer through early October, and her house is at the foot of Eleventh, which is one reason we bushwhack all over it. But it is crazy bushwhacking! There are some beautiful rocky outcroppings that afford incredible views, but they are as messy and difficult to get to as one can imagine. But we don't care because it's home to us.
    Lots of mountains around here have uninspiring names--named after people (boring!), named for surveyors' numbers because there are so many, and so on.
    Eleventh Mountain is a wild, wild, WILD place. When bushwhacking mid-day in the summer, I frequently hear bears sleeping (groaning and moaning). I love it!! And so does Sue. She's 70 now, but tough as nails. Her husband, who's 84, freaks out when she explores, except when she's with me. I think he has an exaggerated sense of my competence with navigation.
    What I hate about late fall is that the lower elevations of Eleventh are populated with hunters, rifles in their arms and a whisky flask in their pockets. I stay away then.
    You may give it a beautiful name! What do you have in mind.
    About the Jackie Kennedy interviews: I'm almost positive that to hear them, you would have to order them. They were totally sealed until recently, and I believe that they're only available by ordering the book and the audio CD that accompanies it. Well worth it, in my estimation.

    Judith

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    1. Judith,
      I would have to have a think about the name for Eleventh mountain but according to your photo it has gorgeous trees on the lower slopes so it should be tree related in whichever Indian/First Nation language was used, although I believe the Adirondacks wasn't settled by them, just used as a way to get from A to B. I can't imagine hearing bears whilst out walking - crazy! I'm nervous of going into woods because of my red hair, I fear that hunters/poachers might shoot thinking the colour is a red deer!! Last time we went into a wood we heard a shot and they had got one, poor thing. There's no skill involved in shooting them, it was just murder.
      At the moment there are lots of JFK things on TV because of the anniversary, including a theory that I hadn't heard about before - an FBI guy shot him!

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  2. Thank you for writing about this book, Judith! It would fit perfectly with my current Kennedy reading obsession. It sounds like audio is definitely the way to go… adding to my list.

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    1. JoAnn,
      I'm so glad you're interested, because the recordings are remarkable. The audio comes bundled with the transcripts in book form, and I found that this is a good combo, because occasionally, due to the age (and antiquity) of the technology in 1964, there were occasional phrases and sentences that were inaudible. But still!!! The recordings themselves are so, so valuable. Although I borrowed them from the college library, I may have to buy them.
      I would love to dialogue with you about them once you've had a chance to listen.

      Judith

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  3. I ve a JFK connect book on my blog tomorrow this sounds really interesting ,all the best stu

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    1. Gosh, Stu!
      I've got to visit this blog entry! Will do, absolutely!
      Thanks so much for stopping by,
      Judith

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