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Tag Archives: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

“Oh, Mr. Hill…”

A Recommended Read

A Recommended Read

Through his humble and straightforward narrative style, I can hear her breathy voice calling his name, be it in amusement, annoyance, or a unique combination of the two.  The deeply personal recounting of so many private yet fascinating moments yields a refreshing portrait of a woman subjected to so many portraits– in this case one without drama, sensation or agenda. Clint Hill takes us, his readers, on a one-on-one historical journey that only he can tell.  And though “that day” came more than a decade before my birth, his frank and detailed words drew me in close enough to feel as if I were right there alongside him on November 22, 1963.

For all that’s been written about First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy over the past half century, only the U.S. Secret Service Agent assigned to her detail holds the otherwise unrecorded memories to write as he does.  And Mr. Hill writes well in “Mrs. Kennedy and Me,” despite a few cases of grammatical usage that his proofreader apparently missed.  She returns to life throughout these pages as calculating yet reasonable, demanding yet understanding, mischievous yet respectful– and the descriptors can easily go on.  As her voice speaks through the pages, above all else I imagine her picking up a copy from beyond, glancing at it with a stunned yet captivated expression, and in disbelief that yet another entire book has been written about her, immediately calling out, “Oh, Mr. Hill…”

 

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Script-free & Unedited

She never sat down with Barbara Walters and spilled her guts.  There was no public airing of her dirty laundry.  To her great credit, she maintained dignity and privacy throughout her life, granting no interviews.  As such, never did she create the typical high-profile media event akin to so many others– one that’s scheduled, promoted, sensationalized, over-analyzed and ultimately replayed time and again.  She simply did not share herself with us in the way we might have expected and enjoyed.

The closest she ever came– and the most we’ll ever get– exists in the form of her audio recordings of 1964, made public for the first time just this past fall, as I then enthusiastically reported.  Just months after the indelible event of November 22, 1963 that changed her life, the country and the world, the recently widowed Jacqueline Kennedy spoke on tape with historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., providing a rare yet quite extensive glimpse into her feelings, outlooks and recollections of not only her time in the White House– among everyone and everything that came with it– but also of the rigorous path to getting there, along with the seemingly countless figures by whom she was constantly surrounded.

I’m pleased to say I’ve now had the pleasure of hearing this insightful audio collection in its entirety, and not a moment too soon.  Five months ago my words were based solely on the small pieces of these recordings that the media reported.  As with most material of particular interest, however, it’s far better to listen, learn and judge for ourselves.  This I’ve done, leaving me satisfied, informed and rewarded.

Much ground is covered, with numerous names, dates and places to recall and keep track of while listening to Mrs. Kennedy speak.  Fortunately the book which accompanies the CD recordings presents her words verbatim, while within the pages annotates the individual or circumstance being discussed.  This makes for a series of fascinating and thorough history lessons.

Granted, some topics of conversation prove more interesting than others.  This is a never-before-heard Jackie, wonderfully raw and unedited.  With this come her often-fragmented thoughts, her mid-sentence changes of course, and her occasional long-windedness.  Still, it’s precisely these elements that make these recordings so compelling.  After all, at no other time have we heard her in this manner.  Unlike her 1962 White House Tour, or her 1964 thank you to the nation, we’re treated to the real Jacqueline Kennedy, free of script, rehearsal or cue.

For anyone who appreciates the many varied players and events of the Kennedy administration– and of course admires Jackie herself– this audio collection is not to be passed up.  My copy will remain with me for years to come, and maybe even find its way into my lending library!

And that’s my… oh, need I bother?

 

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A Woman of Opinions

She was soft-spoken and never granted interviews.  This doesn’t mean she lacked opinions, however, because as we are soon about to see, she most certainly did!  The late great Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is posthumously making headlines 17 years after her death and a half century after becoming first lady.

The privilege of hearing some of her more candid remarks is finally coming to us, in the form of 1964 audio tape recordings that are now becoming available to the public for the first time in history.  While naturally I can’t wait to hear them, a few humorous tidbits have already leaked out.  And to think I already own a Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis quote book, which apparently will need a new edition!

A figure of extraordinary allure and unparalleled style speaks to us “now” from a time long past, revealing her refreshing humanity in the face of the often seemingly unrefreshing position she held.  As much as I’ve always admired her, Jackie has just earned a big fresh dose of my respect.  And although I’ve never thought of her as snarky, this is not hard to believe.  This understandable personality trait was simply well-concealed under the obligatory “nice” veneer of her White House years, making her all the more fascinating to us today.  Suffice to say, when Jackie speaks, I readily listen.  It appears I’m not alone.

Here’s to a unique and unmatched woman of opinions!

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Current Events, Famous People, News, Politics, Presidential

 

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