Just months after her husband’s, President John F. Kennedy‘s death, Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis sat down for an extraordinarily candid taped conversation with Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., the acclaimed historian and Kennedy aide, to talk about JFK’s experience in The White House, their marriage, and her role by his political life (Schlesinger is the legendary historian who won the 1946 Pulitzer Prize for History, the 1958 Bancroft Prize, the 1965 National Book Award, the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, the 1979 Book Award, the 1998 National Humanities Medal, the 2006 Paul Peck Award, among many other accolades). The 8.5 hours of interviews (which do not discuss his death) had been kept sealed by the notoriously private Jackie O, and would become one of only three interviews that the former First Lady would give following the death of her husband until her death in 1994. The transcript and recording was obtained by The New York Times and provides powerful insights into her feelings, emotions, and perceptions of the dark Washington world that surrounded her. The following is an excerpt from an NBC Nightly News report on the tapes:
Though the interviews seem unlikely to redraw the contours of Mr. Kennedy or his presidency, they are packed with intimate observations and insights of the sort that historians treasure. At just 34, and in what her daughter, Caroline Kennedy, describes in a foreword to the book as “the extreme stages of grief,” Mrs. Kennedy displays a cool self-possession and a sharp, somewhat unforgiving eye. In her distinctive breathy cadences, an intimate tone and the impeccable diction of women of her era and class, she delivers tart commentary on former presidents, heads of state, her husband’s aides, powerful women, women reporters, even her mother-in-law.
You can learn more by watching the following clip from NBC Nightly News, as well as read The New York Times’ feature article which broke the story on September 11th by CLICKING HERE. To purchase your own hardcover copy of Michael Beschloss‘s Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy simply head over to Amazon.