Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis Summary and Reviews

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

The Untold Story

by Barbara Leaming

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Barbara Leaming X
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Barbara Leaming
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About this book

Book Summary

The untold story of how one woman's life was changed forever in a matter of seconds by a horrific trauma.

Barbara Leaming's extraordinary and deeply sensitive biography is the first book to document Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' brutal, lonely and valiant thirty-one year struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that followed JFK's assassination.

Here is the woman as she has never been seen before.  In heartrending detail, we witness a struggle that unfolded at times before our own eyes, but which we failed to understand.

Leaming's biography also makes clear the pattern of Jackie's life as a whole. We see how a spirited young woman's rejection of a predictable life led her to John F. Kennedy and the White House, how she sought to reconcile the conflicts of her marriage and the role she was to play, and how the trauma of her husband's murder which left her soaked in his blood and brains led her to seek a very different kind of life from the one she'd previously sought.

A life story that has been scrutinized countless times, seen here for the first time as the serious and important story that it is. A story for our times at a moment when we as a nation need more than ever to understand the impact of trauma.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"An intimate and revealing look at one of the 20th century's most remarkable - and misunderstood - women." - Kirkus

"Well-written and engaging, the book presents readers with yet another facet of a woman who has intrigued and beguiled the public for decades." - Publishers Weekly

"Barbara Leaming's new biography of the First Lady presents her as more interesting and sympathetic than the style-setting aristocrat she has so often been packaged as before." - Barnes and Noble

This information about Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Wendy F. (Kalamazoo, MI)

The Untold Story
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It gave new perspective to someone that I have admired greatly over the years. I was just a babe in arms when President Kennedy was killed but I have always had a fascination with the Kennedy family.

The book focuses on the fact that Jackie Kennedy suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While this was not diagnosed at the time nor was it classified as a specific illness, it makes perfect sense after what she went through. How many of us would have handled a loved one dying in our arms in such a violent manner with the amount of dignity that she displayed. Also interesting were the sections on how she was used as a political pawn by Lyndon Johnson, the Kennedy family and others. The fact that she was close to suicide on several occasions was also something that is not surprising however I had not heard this before.

It was startling to read of how the public "turned" on Jackie after her efforts to block the publishing of a book about the assassination and her subsequent marriage to Aristotle Onassis. This "second injury" had to have been so difficult for someone who had been much idolized.

The feeling that President Kennedy's murder had "set something loose" in the country that allowed the violence to continue in the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy rings true and I think we are still feeling it today.

The one disappointment I had was that Barbara Leaming did not delve much into Jackie's relationship with her children, Caroline and John. She was a fiercely protective mother and I think it would have been nice to have more information about their closeness.

Overall a very good read

Ariel F. (Madison, WI)

Her life was not all Camelot!
I was a 17-year old college freshman when JFK was killed. I remember how the assassination impacted me. I had never given much thought to how the assassination would impact Jackie.

I found this to be a sensitive, well written biography. When ever I thought of Jackie and JFK, I always thought about Camelot. However, the reality of his death and her life afterwards was anything but Camelot. Having your husband killed in her presence would make anyone have PTSD. Her ability to present a strong facade in public was admirable.

I was happy to read in one book her entire life in this well written biography.
I feel that book clubs that read books about politics, women's issues, health issues would find it interesting for discussions.

Erica M. (Chicago, IL)

New information about the Kennedys
Having been 10 years old when John Kennedy was shot, he and his family have lived within my imagination and as part of my life. I have read a number of volumes about the Kennedys as individuals, conspiracy theories, fiction. This was certainly a new twist. I have known people with PTSD, but had never thought of how likely it might be that Jacqueline Kennedy might have suffered from that. The facts all fit. One thing that struck me, that I never thought of before, and was certainly not stated outright, was that John Kennedy suffered from a mental affliction. Based on his relationships with women other than his wife, I wondered, when reading this book, if John wasn't a sex addict. The description of his assignations appeared to be uncontrollable, and completely uncaring about the impact of his actions on his wife. Like the description of Jacqueline's PTSD, it seemed to fit. I found the book a fascinating study of people I have always found fascinating.

Joanne V. (Towanda, PA)

A very good biography
I am one of those persons who remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing the day JFK was assassinated. I had often wondered how Jackie lived through the horror of that day without totally breaking down. This biography sheds some light on that and also helps explain some of her later choices. I would have been interested in more about how her PTSD affected her children and her relationship with them. All in all I think the author did a very good job and I certainly better understand, what I thought at the time, were odd choices. She seems to have found some peace in her later years. I appreciated the opportunity to read this book, but would have liked to have discussed it rather than doing a review.

Vy A. (Phoenix, AZ)

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis The Untold Story
I highly recommend this biography.The Untold Story sub-title says it well. As a devoted fan of Ms. Kennedy for fifty-four years I thought I had read everything written about her. Author Leaming's attention to personal detail and thirty-page bibliography brings to light many facets of Ms. Kennedy's life I believe are unknown to the general public.

At times it is not easy to read because it is not always flattering; therefore, I think it is truthful. The assassination itself is the most graphic account I have read, and perhaps rightly so, in order for us to further understand the severe trauma Ms. Kennedy experienced that day and for years following the tragic event. In 1963, PSTD was not an identified illness, yet when it was first labeled in 1980 following the Vietnam War, it was obvious that Ms. Kennedy had been a victim of this disorder. We see a lady who was credited with holding our nation together as a staunch warrior during JFK's funeral in a different light in the years that followed. One is led to believe that if it were not for her children she would have taken her own life. We are also privy to conversations and correspondence she had with famous names in history both in the United States and abroad.

This book is as much about our political world in the years 1960 until her death in l994 as it is about her life. It is a must read for any student of history or politics or for anyone who is fascinated with the Kennedy legacy. A remarkable biography of a remarkable lady who finally gained control of her sanity and life, sadly with few years remaining to enjoy it.

Corinne S. (Paoli, PA)

Life-changing Events
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis and JFK and his death were life-changing events in my life. I was 13 at the time of JFK's assassination. How much of the background events do you understand when you are 13 years old? Not much! Barbara Leaming allows the reader to relive the historic event while she lays out Jacqueline's life story. Shocking, riveting, spell-binding, gut-wrenching material that kept me glued to the pages. Jacqueline was not a wealthy girl yet she was smart enough to traverse the societal gap between her world and JFK's world to land him as her husband. Was that a good move? You will need to discern that for yourself. Jacqueline had a plan for her life, and she undertook academic studies needed to succeed in her plans. I passionately read about her dark, undaunted love for JFK, her loyalty during the political maneuvering, her determination to make her marriage last. Jacqueline had many influential friends who listened to her grief after the death of JFK, but they did not understand the horrible effects of what we know today to be PTSD. Jacqueline would relive the traumatic event; she would avoid situations that threatened to provoke memories of the event, feel numb, keyed up, and lived with suicidal thoughts. Jacqueline exemplified courage and strength beyond what the public gave her credit as she chose life instead of the easy way out death. Did Jacqueline betray us when she married Aristotle Onassis? I felt so at the time, but upon reading Leaming's book, I find I know why she agreed to be his wife. I keep thinking give her a break. Did she ever quit – NO. She knows she needs to do something for herself after Aristotle dies, so she signs on with Tom Guinzburg from Viking Press. How amazing is that? I could go on and on, but as you can see – I Loved This Book.

...27 more reader reviews

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