“A fascinating window into an aspect of Jackie Kennedy Onassis that few of us know.”
“Sheds new light on the part of Jackie’s life that she most clearly chose for herself. . . . An essential chapter in a remarkable life. . . . What’s clear from [Reading Jackie] is that Jackie was a remarkably perceptive and sensitive editor with a regard for writing and a sense of what makes writing good—far more than just a socialite in an office with a drop-dead Rolodex.”
—Los Angeles Times
“This book shows Jackie not as a First Lady or fashion icon, but as an intellectual, well-read woman.”
—New York Daily News
“Jackie O loved powerful men, but her passion was for writers. . . . [Kuhn] reveals some fascinating facts about the literary Jackie.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“William Kuhn reveals the Jackie I knew as a person and professional: serious, smart, intuitive about ideas and aesthetics, but also down to earth in the sense of understanding the potential audience for a book. In Reading Jackie I learned so much about her I didn’t know, and Kuhn tells the story with such flowing grace of phrase and structure. A splendid work.”
“Unexpectedly and intelligently dishy. . . . Quite a fascinating portrait of a complex woman, who had the interests and enthusiasms of her class and was allowed to indulge those passions with singular force and focus.”
—The Boston Globe
“It is enlightening to see [Jackie] not simply as the stylish wife of two powerful men, but also as a career woman who oversaw the publication of close to 100 books in her two decades at Viking and Doubleday, and to know she was greatly admired by both her peers and the authors she edited.”
“Absorbing. . . . Fascinating. . . . A treat for bibliophiles and Jackiephiles—and especially for those whom those interests overlap.”
“Enlightening and surprising. . . . Impeccably researched. . . . Provides insights that would never have been available to outsiders.”
“Embedded in the book is a fascinating look at the vanities of New York publishing in the late 20th century: how books got acquired, edited and sold; how the tastes of a few individuals shaped reading habits of the masses.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Reading Jackie illuminates a literary life. . . . The portrait that emerges is of a highly cultured, witty woman who loved ballet, art and history and developed a deep knowledge of many topics.”
—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“[Kuhn] makes the compelling argument that Onassis was much more intellectual and thoughtful than many portrayals in the media suggested.”
—Town and Country
During the last two decades of her life, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis worked on nearly 100 books with varying degrees of responsibility as an editor, first at Viking--she resigned after being castigated by the New York Times about a Viking thriller with a Ted Kennedy–like protagonist as an assassination target--and then at Doubleday, which promised to avoid any similar embarrassments. Her love of dance led to Onassis publishing a biography of Fred Astaire and autobiographies of Martha Graham, Judith Jamison, and Gelsey Kirkland. Kuhn (The Politics of Pleasure: A Portrait of Benjamin Disraeli) is particularly dismissive of Kirkland and her then-husband/collaborator Greg Lawrence's bestselling tell-all accusing George Balanchine of cruelties; not coincidentally, Lawrence is the author of a competing book, Jackie as Editor. With biographies of Clara Bow and Jean Harlow, the quietly feminist Onassis insisted on getting beyond publicity photo images to tell a woman's true story, says Kuhn. Being seen as royalty herself as the widow of JFK, the often imperious Onassis commissioned more than a dozen books on the royalty of India, ancient Egypt, Versailles, and Romanov Russia. Although this lucid, amply detailed catalogue of Onassis's publishing projects offers a window into her passions and opaque personality, it is far from what Kuhn dubs "the only autobiography she ever wrote"--most readers will not find it revelatory. (Dec.)
Rather than diminishing her status as "American royalty," Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's 1994 death enshrined her in immutable seclusion and mystery. Her reticence to grant interviews (the last was a full 30 years prior to her death), pen memoirs, or dish intimacies continues to fuel the public's hunger to know her. Biographer/historian Kuhn (The Politics of Pleasure) has sagely plumbed her editing career for insights, a fitting Rosetta Stone for decoding a woman afire with a lifelong love of reading, words, and books. Actress Susan Denaker's reading is appropriately invisible to the listener, never stealing the limelight from the true star of the tale. Recommended for all those who enjoy delving into the lives of fascinating personalities. ["A revealing, readable, and insightful book," read the review of the Nan A. Talese: Doubleday hc, LJ 11/15/10; the Anchor pb will publish in October 2011.—Ed.]—Judith Robinson, Dept. of Lib. & Information Studies, Univ. at Buffalo
A clever, surprisingly substantial take on the life of Jacqueline Onassis (1929 –1994).
Kuhn (History/Carthage Coll; The Politics of Pleasure: A Portrait of Benjamin Disraeli, 2006, etc.) admiringly portrays this American icon as a bookish creature born to uncertain privilege who embraced her more wealthy, connected husbands for security rather than a meeting of artistic minds. "Jackie," as the author calls her throughout, came into her own as an editor only after second husband Aristotle Onassis died. Kuhn asserts that through her publishing list of nearly 100 books, first at Viking, then at Doubleday, this most private public person truly revealed what she cared passionately about. The author's brisk, officious, often repetitive narrative moves quickly over Jackie's early career, characterized by the thwarting of her earliest desires to be a ballet dancer and then a writer. Landing a job at Viking in 1975 fulfilled a kind of dream postponed—she had won Vogue's Prix de Paris for her essay as a 21-year-old college student, gaining her an internship at the magazine's Paris office, only to be forced by her mother to decline. She also found an important new mentor in formerVogueeditor Diana Vreeland. Through Vreeland, Martha Graham and Bill Moyers, she developed her first successful books. The author traces Jackie's professional development, from a "shy celebrity recruit" to a macher who could bring in big names via books by Michael Jackson, Naguib Mahfouz and Gelsey Kirkland. Kuhn argues that Jackie touched on forbidden themes in her own life—her husband's adultery, the humiliation of marriage, political machinations—only through her list, including such books as Barbara Chase-Riboud's controversial novelSally Hemings (1979) and Elizabeth Crook's novel about Sam Houston and Eliza Allen,The Raven's Bride (1991). In between chronicling the titles shepherded by Jackie, Kuhn offers delicious tidbits of gossip, such as Jackie's evident glee and pride at her salary increase and promotion to senior editor.
Both respectful and scintillating.