July 19, 2004 by
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Grace and Power
Private World of the Kennedy White House.
Sally Bedell Smith, 605pp. Rating A.
Dark Side Of The Kennedy White House

Part1of 5. The Debt.
This is an excellent and insightful look inside the Kennedy White House by a biographer of great skill particularly when she casts her eye on the lives and activities of other women. This book begins the day after John Fitzgerald Kennedy has won the presidential election of 1960 and ends on the day his widow, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, and her two small children leave the White House. Before that it has a section entitled the “Kennedy Court”, which describes the main players in a social, cultural and political sense. These people were relatives, intimates, friends and political associates of the President and the First Lady and the book ends with an epilogue stating what happened to those people after the Kennedy Presidency. Sally Bedell Smith’s book is richly detailed regarding the marriage relationship of Jack and Jackie and the conduct, development and stresses on their personal and social lives as political and cultural events unfold around them and their “Court.” This book gives the facts without the author’s opinions and is meant to be more of a social and cultural history rather than a political analysis of the Kennedy years. The author does not rely on the tabloid or pop culture press or unfounded gossip for her sources but rather one hundred forty interviews of persons in a position to know facts or about one hundred other high quality sources. This is not another puff piece on the Kennedy’s. This is work of scholarship as well as a history of the White House that is well written and eminently readable. Although much of the material has been divulged before, Ms. Smith has assembled the facts and in a way which gives a new understanding and meaning to them. Also she is not blindly smitten by Jack or Jacqueline and offers no apologia for their faults or gushing reminisces of their successes



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