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Jack and Jackie: Portrait of an American Marriage

Jack and Jackie: Portrait of an American Marriage

by Christopher P. Andersen

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Theirs was one of the great love stories of our time. Indeed, John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, captured and have held the world's imagination as perhaps no other husband and wife in modern history. Yet despite the billions of words that have been written about this most golden of couples, the true nature of their relationship has been


Theirs was one of the great love stories of our time. Indeed, John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, captured and have held the world's imagination as perhaps no other husband and wife in modern history. Yet despite the billions of words that have been written about this most golden of couples, the true nature of their relationship has been veiled in mystery and mystique.

Until now. With stunning information from important sources, some of whom were sworn to secrecy until Jackie's death in May 1994, and previously sealed archival material, international best-selling author Christopher Andersen examines their unique partnership and the courage, grace, and humor that defined it. In the manner of Joseph Lash's insightful Eleanor and Franklin, Jack and Jackie is packed with startling revelations about the secrets and events that shaped their lives, including:

  • Never-before-known details of their courtship, and the other men Jackie almost married
  • The world-famous women whose romances with JFK have previously been unreported, including Audrey Hepburn
  • The shocking truth about Jack's medical condition, and how, as with FDR, the disturbing truth was concealed from the press and the public
  • Their concerns about infertility, and Jackie's troubled pregnancies; the way Caroline and John Jr. transformed their lives — and the touching story of how the death of their infant son Patrick brought Jack and Jackie closer than they had ever been, only months before Dallas

An inspiring, sympathetic, and compelling look at two mythic figures, Jack and Jackie is more than just the definitive portrait of their marriage. Itis a glittering fairy tale, a stirring saga of triumph and tragedy, and — above all else — a love story.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Andersen, author of unauthorized biographies of Madonna and Michael Jackson, here chronicles the relationship between Jacqueline Bouvier and John F. Kennedy. He starts with brief chapters on the early forces that impinged on their later life together: in his case, his father's money, competitiveness, and philandering; in hers, her mother's coldness, her father's philandering, and her need for money. The book is based on many interviews, though those closest to the Kennedys have kept mum. Despite JFK's supposedly juicy affairs, there are few lurid details (except for a couple about father Joe), and Andersen's is a surprisingly sympathetic view of the two principals (though he uses lots of anecdotes from the venomously anti-Kennedy writer Gore Vidal). This is good gossip, but not an essential purchase; expect demand, however, given the frenzy that accompanied the Jackie O auction.Francine Fialkoff, "Library Journal"

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.86(h) x 1.18(d)

Read an Excerpt

He had a wedding to go to, but Jack was in agony, and the pain he endured was not merely physical. For years, he had suffered debilitating back spasms from a slipped disc — a chronic condition that battalions of Harvard-educated doctors seemed powerless to alleviate. Not that he had allowed this infirmity to get in the way of his socializing, or to curb even slightly his prodigious sexual appetites.

To be sure, the word irresistible applied to Black Jack Bouvier as it did to few other men. Jack was tall, tanned, rakishly handsome, the Ivy League-educated heir to a not-inconsequential fortune. He was charming and fun; men as well as women loved being in his company. He remained a bachelor until his mid-thirties, when he decided to finally take the plunge with a girl scarcely out of college.

Earlier this evening, he had performed admirably at the wedding rehearsal. The bride's face had lit up when she saw him. And tomorrow the créme de la créme of New York and Washington society would be in attendance at St. Mary's Church in Newport, Rhode Island, as Black Jack walked down the aisle with his strikingly beautiful daughter Jacqueline. Certainly no one was prouder of the bride. He had watched her blossom into an elegant, supremely self-assured, utterly enchanting young woman. But there were always nagging doubts at times like these, and Black Jack dealt with them — along with the recurring pain in his back — the best way he knew how: He sat in his suite at Newport's Viking Hotel and drank himself into a stupor.

A series of increasingly incoherent telephone calls to his sisters followed late that evening and into the early-morning hours.By ten o'clock the next morning, it had become painfully clear that Jack Bouvier would be in no condition to walk his adored Jacqueline down the aisle and give her away to the other handsome Jack in her life — a man who was to an uncanny degree her father's mirror image — John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

As the rest of the wedding party assembled at Hammersmith Farm, the Auchincloss family estate in Newport, the mother of the bride unleashed a blistering tirade against her ex-husband. She was accustomed to what she referred to as Blackjack's "wanton depravity." But to pass out drunk in his hotel room on his daughter's wedding day — that surpassed even the notorious Black Jack's capacity for wickedness. "I knew he would do this to us," Janet told her trembling daughter. "Why you wanted him here in the first place I will never know!"

To be sure, Jacqueline herself was crestfallen upon hearing news of her father's condition. He had seemed so pulled-together the night before at the rehearsal. Throughout their young lives, Jackie and her sister, Lee, had been used as unwilling pawns in their parents' marital wars. Brimming with social ambition and moral rectitude, their mother made certain during the time they were married that the girls did not miss a single detail of their father's reckless spending, his gambling and drinking, and most of all, his philandering. When Black Jack's fortunes on Wall Street began to falter, Janet and the girls moved into a massive thirteen room Park Avenue apartment owned by Janet's banker father, James T. Lee. Grandfather Lee then joined in the chorus of rebukes.

Outnumbered and largely guilty of the accusations leveled against him, Blackjack did not fight back. When Janet did divorce him on grounds of adultery in 1940, Black Jack agreed to all his ex-wife's terms in the interest of harmony. His energies would better be expended lavishing gifts, praise, and affection on Jackie and Lee.

The effect of all this bickering was to cast Black Jack in the sympathetic role of hapless, unjustly maligned underdog — at least in the eyes of his young daughters. Where they harbored a wary respect for their iron-willed mother, it was their much-misunderstood father whom they adored. To Jackie in particular, Black Jack became the standard against which other men were measured. He was also her model for what to expect of men in general. Blackjack taught Jacqueline that men (the exciting ones, anyway) were congenitally prone to infidelity. That they meant no harm by it; this was simply one of the immutable laws of nature.

She also appreciated early on the necessity of "marrying well." When Janet became the third wife of monied, socially prominent Hugh D. Auchincloss, the balance of power shifted dramatically. While Black Jack's entire real estate holdings consisted of a fourroom apartment at 125 East Seventy-fourth Street in Manhattan (by then the Bouvier family estate, Lasata, had been sold), the Auchinclosses divided their time between two lavish properties: Merrywood, a Georgian mansion set on forty-six rolling acres in Virginia's hunt country, and Hammersmith Farm, the twenty-eight-room shingled "cottage" with its sweeping views of Newport's glistening Narragansett Bay.

Black Jack had gamely continued to pay the girls' monthly allowances, as well as to foot the cost for their college tuitions, their horses, and even their charge accounts at Bloomingdales and Saks. But he was clearly no match for the enormously wealthy Auchincloss clan. Jackie and Lee owed the opulence of their surroundings to their stepfather, "Uncle Hughdie."

For her part, Janet had wasted no time trying to forge a bond between the hot-blooded Catholic Bouvier girls and their WASP stepfamily. In 1945, Janet gave birth to their half-sister, Janet, and two years later to a half-brother, Jamie. There were already several Auchincloss stepsiblings in place. Hugh Dudley III (called "Yusha" by his Russian mother), Nina (who also happened to be writer Gore Vidal's half-sister), and Thomas. Of these, Jackie was closest to Yusha, who was only two years her senior and, in his own words, "completely captivated" by her.

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