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Mrs Kennedy


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About the Author

Barbara Leaming is the author of the critically acclaimed "Orson Welles" and the "New York Times" bestseller "Katharine Hepburn." Her articles have appeared in "Vanity Fair" and "The New York Times Magazine." She lives in Connecticut.


Asserting that Jacqueline Kennedy's role in shaping her husband's presidency has been under-examined, Leaming (Katharine Hepburn) offers a corrective in this intimate look at a very private woman. Initially inclined to keep herself as much in the background as possible, says Leaming, Jacqueline Kennedy became an increasingly visible and vocal first lady as she realized how effective she could be as an image maker. It's in this capacity that Leaming convincingly depicts her as being instrumental in shaping the course of her husband's administration: charming, intuitive and socially savvy, she was clearly adept at recognizing precisely how to win over any given individual or audience, and to convince them to see her husband in a favorable light. While many world leaders, for example, were initially inclined to view John F. Kennedy as a playboy and an intellectual lightweight, Jackie skillfully massaged their perceptions until they began to take him more seriously and consequently to be much more responsive to his foreign policy agenda. But even as she worked hard on his behalf, Jack continually betrayed her with his legendary infidelities; the impact of this on Jackie's psyche is also a major theme here. Indeed, this is as much a psychological biography as a political one, and Leaming explores Jackie's complex and often painful inner life with subtlety and compassion. Unabashedly sympathetic toward her protagonist, Leaming provides a fascinating glimpse into the psychodynamics of one of the 20th century's most famous marriages, and her assertion that Jackie Kennedy deserves more credit than she's typically gotten for her husband's successes is persuasive. 32 pages b&w photos not seen by PW. (Nov.) Forecast: Leaming's bio of Katharine Hepburn was a bestseller, and one can predict generous sales for this title, which Leaming will promote in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., including an appearance on the Today show. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Deirdre Donahue USA Today Leaming paints a moving portrait of Jackie as she tried valiantly to make her marriage work and find a place for herself and her gifts.
Kirkus Reviews (starred) Likely to become the definitive biography of the Kennedy marriage.
Liz Smith New York Post A fascinating work.
Bonnie Angelo The Washington Post Bona fide new material...meticulous research...achingly moving.

Despite the welter of material on Jacqueline Kennedy, biographer Leaming has indeed produced an original and compelling portrait of Jackie as first lady. Leaming has plumbed primary sources heretofore unused (such as the letters of Harold Macmillan) and conducted interviews with sometime friends and associates, perhaps more willing to talk now that Jackie has died. Leaming makes a persuasive case for Jackie's substantive contribution as first lady in the role of diplomat. Jackie did the research and softened up visiting leaders, who then met the president already impressed with his administration. Leaming also explains Jackie's highly criticized absences from the White House: she was fleeing her husband's flagrant womanizing. Leaming's extensive documentation of his shameless conduct and his cruelty to his wife is breathtaking. (Her theories about why they married and why Jackie stood for such treatment are less dispositive.) The publisher plans a national publicity campaign. Public libraries should stock up, but they won't be able to meet the certain demand no matter how many copies they own. Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, DC Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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