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Sweet Caroline: Last Child of Camelot

Sweet Caroline: Last Child of Camelot

by Christopher P. Andersen

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She is the heiress to a legacy of power, wealth, unfulfilled promise, and unspeakable tragedy. Her father was gunned down before a stunned world forty years ago, forever changing the course of history. Her mother became the most celebrated American woman of the twentieth century -- an icon of style, glamour, and personal courage. Her brother was the most promising


She is the heiress to a legacy of power, wealth, unfulfilled promise, and unspeakable tragedy. Her father was gunned down before a stunned world forty years ago, forever changing the course of history. Her mother became the most celebrated American woman of the twentieth century -- an icon of style, glamour, and personal courage. Her brother was the most promising Kennedy of his generation -- a global heartthrob who was killed when his plane crashed within sight of his mother's estate on Martha's Vineyard. Through it all, the sole surviving member of Camelot's First Family, Caroline Kennedy, has remained largely a mystery. Until now. In the manner of his #1 New York Times bestsellers The Day Diana Died and The Day John Died, as well as his other bestselling books on the Kennedys, Jack and Jackie and Jackie After Jack, Christopher Andersen draws on important sources -- many speaking here for the first time -- to provide a full, compelling portrait of Caroline, the young wife and mother left to carry on in her legendary family's name. Among the revelations:

  • New details about life inside the Kennedy White House -- and the events surrounding JFK's assassination -- from Caroline's unique perspective.
  • A spellbinding account of the surreal years she spent as the stepdaughter of Aristotle Onassis.
  • Caroline's own battles with a variety of harrowing personal problems, both physical and emotional.
  • The times she, too, cheated death; the stalkers who have caused her to fear for her life.
  • Her often frustrating attempts to carve out an identity for herself in the shadow of her famous mother.
  • Her loves, and the enigmatic character she chose to marry.
  • The way she coped with the heartbreaking losses of her father, mother, and brother -- as well as the countless catastrophes that have plagued the Kennedy family over the last half-century and the demons that haunt her to this day.
  • How she is raising her children, and what lessons she is teaching them about love -- and loss.

Sweet Caroline: Last Child of Camelot is an often moving, always captivating look at the life of one little girl who was handed more than her share of heartache -- and has not only survived but flourished. It is the story of America's daughter.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
All we know is that Andersen's next subject is an American who is always in the news. With a one-day laydown on October 21. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.78(h) x 1.19(d)

Read an Excerpt

Sweet Caroline
Last Child of Camelot

Chapter One

Saturday,July 17,1999
5:30 A. M.

Nothing. Not a dial tone, not a busy signal, nothing. He called his cousin's house keeper back to make sure the number she had given him was correct. It was, she assured him. So Tony Radziwill tried again -- this time enlisting the help of an operator.

"Yes, I'm trying to get through to Mountain Village Resort in Stanley, Idaho, operator," he said, "but I can't get through."

The operator tried, but no luck. "They must be having some trouble with the line, sir," she said politely. "I'll go ahead and report it."

Tony had also tried Carolin's cell phone, with no better luck. He checked his watch and did the math. It was still early in Stanley -- not yet 4:00 A.M. -- and Radziwill wondered for a moment if he should disturb the children. No, this was too important -- they had to know. "Operator, this is an emergency," Radziwill said. She hesitated for a moment, surprised by the sudden urgency in his voice. "I am trying to get in touch with the Schlossbergs -- they are staying at the Mountain Village Resort, and I'm afraid there may have been an accident ... "

"Stay on the line," she answered. "I'll see what I can do."

As he waited, phone in hand, Tony gazed out at the brilliant sunrise over the Atlantic. He was sitting next to the sixteen-burner Vulcan stove in the kitchen at Red Gate Farm, the sprawling estate his Aunt Jackie had built on Martha's Vinyard. All the rooms at Red Gate Farm, decorated in pastels and lined with books, looked out over the ocean through multipaned windows made the old-fashioned way -- with wooden pegs instead of nails. "It was a dream place, a sunlit place," her friend George Plimpton once said. "It's hard to explain the effect it all had on you -- all the variations in color, water sparkling like diamonds everywhere you looked."

That is precisely why John had insisted that his cousin Tony spend the summer at Red Gate Farm. Radziwill had been battling cancer for over a decade, but now it was getting the upper hand. The soothing atmosphere that enveloped Red Gate Farm -- Aunt Jackie's own secluded Shangri-la -- could only accelerate the healing process, John had told him.

"Tony Radziwill's cancer was really tearing John up," his friend John Perry Barlow would later recall. "He did everything he could for Tony, but he knew that he was dying, and they really loved each other."

But right now it was Tony who was worrying about John -- and Radziwill was not alone. John, who often piloted his Piper Saratoga to Cape Cod on weekends, had planned that night to fly his wife, Carolyn, up to Hyannis Port for his cousin Rory's wedding. They were not missed at the wedding rehearsal dinner that night, since it was understood that first they were making a brief detour to nearby Martha's Vinyard to drop off Carolyn's sister, Lauren.

But by 10:00 P.M., Lauren Bessette's friends had become concerned that she was mor than two hours overdue. A thick blanket of haze had settled over the region, forcing many pilots to either delay or cancel their flights. Perhaps John had made the same wise decision. It was possible that they'd never left at all.

When John 's plane had not turned up an hour later, a call was made to Ted Kennedy in Washington. He immediately phoned John's New York apartment. Someone answered, and for a fleeting moment the senator breathed more easily -- until he realized that the voice belonged to a friend whose air-conditioning had broken down. John and Carolyn had given him access to their apartment so he could escape the city's sweltering summer heat.

It was shortly before midnight when Tony was startled awake by the phone -- Ted Kennedy wanting to know if perhaps John had checked in with him. For the next few hours, Tony was one of more than a dozen people manning the phones in an increasingly frantic effort to find John. At 2:15, family friend Carol Ratowell called the Coast Guard operations center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. They then contacted the FAA, which scoured airports in the region, hoping to discover that John had decided to put down at the nearest airport and wait for visibility to improve. An hour later, having failed to locate the missing plane, the FAA alerted both the Coast Guard and the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Virginia's Langley Air Force Base.

Back in Stanley, Idaho, Carolin Kennedy slept soundly alongside her husband, Ed, blissfully unaware of the events unfolding twenty-five hundred miles to the east. The couple had planned to celebrate their thirteenth wedding anniversary and Ed's fifty-fourth birthday on July 19 by white-water-rafting through the region known as the River of No Return. That afternoon John had made his daily call to his sister's cell phone from the offices of George, the irreverent political magazine he cofounded in 1995. John did not want his nieces, Rose and Tatiana, and his nephew, Jack, to miss this adventure, and had insisted that Carolin not worry about missing Rory Kennedy's wedding. John and his wife would represent JFK's branch of the family at Hyannis Port that weekend.

They had always been close, but since their mother's death five years earlier, Carolin and John semed to lean on each other ...

Sweet Caroline
Last Child of Camelot
. Copyright © by Christopher Andersen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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