Excerpt from America's Queen by Sarah Bradford, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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America's Queen

A Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

by Sarah Bradford

America's Queen by Sarah Bradford X
America's Queen by Sarah Bradford
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2000, 448 pages
    Oct 2001, 512 pages


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1. Golden Gatsby Years, 1
2. Daddy's Little Girl, 15
3. The Education of a Nymph, 32
4. The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, 51
5. Clan Initiation, 74
6. Twin Icebergs, 93
7. Seeking the Golden Fleece, 114
8. Queen of the Circus, 142
9. Coronation, 163
10. The House of the Sun King, 169
11. America's Queen, 191
12. Salad Days, 215
13. Rendezvous with Death, 243
14. Profile in Courage, 270
15. The Knights of Camelot, 281
16. La Dolce Vita, 303
17. Odysseus, 320
18. "One Foolish Dream", 340
19. The Curse of the House of Onassis, 352
20. Greek Labyrinth, 363
21. New York-New Life, 376
22. Private Lives, 397
23. Matriarch, 416
24. Pilgrim's End, 434
And So Farewell..., 441
Epilogue, 444
Acknowledgments, 445
Notes, 449
Sources: Select Bibliography and Archives, 473
Permissions, 479
Photo Credits, 481


She said to me once that a few of us should be forgiven for some of the things we did in the years immediately following the President's death. I think she was not only excusing me but also excusing herself.
--Theodore C. Sorensen

Of all the knights of Camelot gathered around the widowed queen, Bobby was by far the closest. In a distortion of the myth, he increasingly played Lancelot to Jackie's Guinevere. In their grief they clung together, Bobby acting as a husband substitute for Jackie, a father substitute for her children. He had always been the one member of the Kennedy family who was always there for her -- at her bedside after the stillbirth of her daughter in 1956, when Jack was vacationing in Europe, with Jack after the death of Patrick, and, finally, first to the plane when she brought Jack's body back from Dallas. Bobby was with her constantly on N Street, coming around immediately if she called him, stopping by in the evening. In order to avoid attention, he parked his car some distance away from the house on another street....

Jackie's return to life began early in the summer of 1965. "I don't know if she was ever really happy that much," said a Kennedy aide and personal friend of Bobby's, who had been in love with Jackie. "But I think a few years after he (Jack) died, sort of 'sixty-five to 'sixty-eight, it was much better for her, emotionally better. Her life had settled in, and Bobby was around, I think that was a pretty good period." Chuck Spalding, who remained close to the family, told Kennedy biographer Nigel Hamilton that Jackie and Bobby were lovers, and that he was good for her.

"She had a real depression after Jack Kennedy died," Richard Goodwin (Kennedy aide) said. "It took her quite a while to get out of it. She really got out of it by getting out and seeing people, doing some work, and doing things like that." Some people have conjectured that Bobby and Jackie's love for each other was morbid, as if being together was somehow sharing a piece of Jack. "On Jackie's side it was genuine, real passion," another friend confided. "For him it was more complicated. It might have been -- I don't know. He would have said no, obviously, he would have said it was an insane thought. This doesn't mean it's not true, just because he wasn't aware of it." Asked how long the relationship had gone on, he said, "Close to when he died."

Bobby was Jackie's great love; a secret rock at the center of her life. Their romance was all the stronger because it was an impossible one. Bobby would never have divorced Ethel, intensely loyal as she was to him and the mother of their nine children. (The tenth, Matthew Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, was born on January 11, 1965.) Even if he had wanted to, both his religion and his political career presented insurmountable obstacles. Nor would Jackie have wanted to go over all the old territory again, the politics, the infidelities. She was under no illusion that Bobby was capable of physical fidelity. When she told Joan Kennedy at the time of one of Teddy's most public affairs, "All Kennedy men are like that," she meant it. Bobby was less chauvinist in his attitude to women than the other Kennedy men; he liked talking to them and in that sense he was not a user to the extent that his brothers (and father) were. He had a long relationship with a Boston-born woman in New York, but he had shared some of Jack's women and had many relationships out on the campaign trail.

Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc. Copyright © Sarah Bradford, 2000.

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