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
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2000, 448 pages
    Oct 2001, 512 pages

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Wryneck had an important architectural commission in Hawaii, the beautiful new State Capitol with its columns and reflecting pool, and huge open courtyard four stories high, which was to be completed in 1968. He had bought a house at Diamond Head and spent part of the summer there while working on the Capitol. "She (Jackie) wanted to come to Hawaii," Wryneck said, "so what I did was to arrange for a lady called Cecily Johnston, who is a very well-established social lady in Hawaii, (to) become the person who was inviting Jackie to Hawaii. Cecily rented the house for her down the beach from where I was, and that's how she came to Hawaii."

Additional cover was provided by Peter Lawford, who came with his children, Christopher, aged eleven, and Sydney, nine, one of Caroline's closest friends among her Kennedy cousins....

At first Jackie had only intended to spend four weeks in Hawaii, but Henry Kaiser, for whom Wryneck was designing a master plan for a huge development at Hawaii Kai, offered her their guesthouse. "We went to all kinds of places in Hawaii," said Wryneck. "We spent a week or ten days on the island of Kauai, through friends. They gave us a beautiful piece of native land and a private bay and a little house which Jackie and I took over. We had my two younger sons, Fred and Rodger, my daughter Margo and her best friend, Nina Nichols, who came over to Kauai to join us with Caroline and John. We had a camp. The Secret Service would arrange tents for themselves and the kids, cook out under the palms, and we had a little house overlooking their camp." Jackie fantasized about buying a house in Hawaii, where she felt totally at home and at ease. "We could go any place we wanted and nobody bothered us," Wryneck said. Before she left, Jackie thanked the Hawaiian press for their restraint. "I had forgotten, and my children have never known what it is like to discover a new place, unwatched and unnoticed," she said.

Jackie's Hawaiian dream remained just that: a dream. Bobby's veto on marriage to Jack Wryneck had had its effect. And in the end Wryneck, although successful and well-off, did not have the kind of money that Jackie's friends like Pamela Harriman would have called big bucks -- private planes, yachts and the trappings of a billionaire. For all her longing for privacy, Jackie could not step down from her pedestal into ordinary life. She had to return to the stratosphere of the superrich, the high altitude to which she had become accustomed.

Then on June 5, 1968, Robert Kennedy was shot. Jackie took a private jet to Los Angeles.

But Bobby's heart was still beating, although there was no hope that he could be revived as a human being. He remained technically alive on a life-support system until 1:44 a.m. the next day, June 6. "Jackie was the one who turned off the machines," Richard Goodwin said. "She flew in and nobody else had the nerve. The poor guy was lying there, his chest going up and down -- you know they have those machines that keep your body going forever -- and he was brain dead and the doctors didn't dare pull the plug. Ethel was in no shape to do anything, she was lying on the bed moaning. Teddy was kneeling in prayer at the foot of the bed and finally Jackie came in and told the doctors they had to do it. It was the final seal for her."

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

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