Caroline Kennedy releases motherJacqueline’s historic interviews about life with JFK THE KENNEDY
WHEN JOHN F. KENNEDY was running for the
Senate in the early 1950s, some of his advisers
expressed concern that his new wife, Jackie,
might be something of a political liability on
the campaign trail due to her refined
finishing-school speech and her obvious
By the time Kennedy was contemplating the shape of his presidential reelection campaign, these same
advisers were insisting that Jackie
play a central role on the campaign
trail. The change reflected the fact
that, during her years in the White
House, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy
had achieved a status as a trendset-ter and international celebrity unprecedented for a first lady.
The change also reflected and was
part of broader shifts in American culture. Jack and Jackie, the quintessential
1950s couple, like millions of others, were
moving into a new era; indeed, the couple was
leading America into the New Frontier.
Few couples have had more written about them
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Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations
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than the Kennedys. Americans of the baby-boom
generation and the generations just before and after
have felt they had a pretty good understanding of
the personalities of these two larger-than-life participants in the country’s history.
But Jacqueline Kennedy wrote no memoir.
After the death of her husband, she famously
secluded her two children from the public eye.
Although she went on to a career in book publishing, she remained curtained from the public view.
In fact, she granted just three significant interviews
about her years in the White House—all in the first
six months after the assassination.
One of these was to Pulitzer Prize–winning
historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a longtime
Kennedy friend and adviser, who as part of an oral
history project on the life and career of JFK sat
down with Mrs. Kennedy for seven taped interviews starting in March 1964, less than four months
after her husband’s assassination. The final interview was in June 1964.
Really more a series of conversations, since they
include quite a bit of Schlesinger’s own memories
and thoughts about the New Frontier days, the
interviews were done under the condition that the
tape recordings be sealed for 50 years.
Now, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary
of JFK’s presidency (and a few years short of
the 50-year sequestering), the audio of the interviews is being released, along with a transcript
including carefully documented footnotes by historian Michael Beschloss.
The decision to go ahead with publication
rested with Caroline Kennedy, the Kennedys’ sole