Jacqueline Kennedy ( Modern First Ladies Series) : First Lady of the New Frontier

Overview

In a mere one thousand days, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy created an entrancing public persona that has remained intact for nearly forty years. Even now, a decade after her death, she remains a figure of enduring-and endearing-interest. Yet, while innumerable books have focused on the legends and gossip surrounding this charismatic figure, Barbara Perry's is the first to focus largely on Kennedy's White House years, portraying a First Lady far more complex and enigmatic than ...
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Overview

In a mere one thousand days, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy created an entrancing public persona that has remained intact for nearly forty years. Even now, a decade after her death, she remains a figure of enduring-and endearing-interest. Yet, while innumerable books have focused on the legends and gossip surrounding this charismatic figure, Barbara Perry's is the first to focus largely on Kennedy's White House years, portraying a First Lady far more complex and enigmatic than previously perceived.

Noting how Jackie's celebrity and devotion to privacy have for years precluded a more serious treatment, Perry's engaging and well-crafted story illuminates Kennedy's immeasurable impact on the institution of the First Lady. Perry vividly illustrates the complexities of Jacqueline Bouvier's marriage to John F. Kennedy, and shows how she transformed herself from a reluctant political wife to an effective, confident presidential partner. Perry is especially illuminating in tracing the First Lady's mastery of political symbolism and imagery, along with her use of television and state entertainment to disseminate her work to a global audience.

By offering the White House as a stage for the arts, Jackie also bolstered the president's Cold War efforts to portray the United States as the epitome of a free society. From redecorating the White House to championing Lafayette Square's preservation to lending her name to fund-raising for the National Cultural Center, she had a profound impact on the nation's psyche and cultural life. Meanwhile, her fashionable clothes and glamorous hairdos stood in stark contrast to the dowdiness of her predecessors and the drab appearances of Communist leaders' spouses.

Never before or since has a First Lady (and her husband) sparkled with so much hope and vigor on the stage of American public life. Perry's deft narrative captures all of that and more, even as it also insightfully depicts Jackie's struggles to preserve her own identity amid the pressures of an institution she changed forever.

Grounded on the author's painstaking research into previously overlooked or unavailable archives, at the Kennedy Library and elsewhere, as well as interviews with Jacqueline Kennedy's close associates, Perry's work expands and enriches our understanding of a remarkable American woman. This book is part of the Modern First Ladies series.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Written to assess "Jackie Kennedy's historical impact on the institution of the First Lady," this account by Perry, a professor of government, chronicles Kennedy's push to restore the White House, promote the arts and cultural institutions, and define her husband's legacy. Perry argues that Kennedy was significant, in part, because she was a transitional figure. She was, according to Perry, among the last of the "traditional First Ladies"-women who defined themselves as "supportive spouses/model wives"-but she also stepped out of that role. In fact, Kennedy "established a pattern that her successors could adopt and adapt to publicize their own less traditional policy agendas." However, Perry spends little time expanding this insight. Instead, her book chronicles Kennedy's work and decision making in minute detail, recounting the particulars of correspondence between the First Lady and her staff about White House decor or plans for redesigning Lafayette Square. Perry also portrays Kennedy as a woman who presented herself, her family and the White House as icons of American freedom designed to promote democracy and challenge the legitimacy of Soviet communism. But once again, this argument remains undeveloped. Perry's study provides few new analytic insights about Jacqueline's tenure in the White House or beyond. The book's strength lies in Perry's attention to detail. 16 photos. (Sept. 9) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700613434
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Series: Modern First Ladies Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 270
  • Sales rank: 541,286
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.05 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 11, 2011

    Jackie fan's and History nuts it is great!

    I really like it because it is in print and includes the CD's from the original interviews given by Jackie. The interviews are as is and untouched. I have a very extensive Jackie collection of reading material, but this does not duplicate any thing that I own. This book is highly recommended and priced right. Enjoy!!

    Brian and Connie from California

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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