Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

  • by Barbara Leaming
  • Narrated by Eliza Foss
  • 13 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The untold story of how one woman’s life was changed forever in a matter of seconds by a horrific trauma.
Barbara Leaming’s extraordinary and deeply sensitive biography is the first book to document Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ brutal, lonely, and valiant 31-year struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following JFK’s assassination. Here is the woman as she has never been seen before. In heartrending detail, we witness a struggle that unfolded at times before our own eyes, but which we failed to understand.
Leaming’s biography also makes clear the pattern of Jackie’s life as a whole. We see how a spirited young woman’s rejection of a predictable life led her to John F. Kennedy and the White House, how she sought to reconcile the conflicts of her marriage and the role she was to play, and how the trauma of her husband’s murder, which left her soaked in his blood and brains, led her to seek a very different kind of life from the one she’d previously sought.
A life story that has been scrutinized countless times, seen here for the first time as the serious and important story that it is. A story for our times at a moment when we as a nation need more than ever to understand the impact of trauma.


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Customer Reviews

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Has New Information

This is Barbara Leaming’s third Kennedy biography. The first third of the book recycles considerable material from the first biography minus the dubious theories. Learning’s major fault as a biographer is her tendency to mind read. In this biography learning has considerable documentation from a variety of sources. The author details after the assassination how Bobby Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson sought to comfort her and to use her politically.

The main or key thrust of Leaming’s book is her claim that Jackie had PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). She documents the clinical symptoms including flashbacks, insomnia, numbness, avoidance, fear, depression and anger. The author also points out that the condition was not medically recognized until 1980. The author claims Jackie fought her way back to good mental health through her work in publishing and her contributions to land mark preservation. The author documents that Jackie’s Sister Lee Radziwell told that Bobby Kennedy’s assassination triggered a recurrence of the PTSD in Jackie. When the British poet Stephen Spender asked in 1980, about her greatest achievement, she told him, “I think it is that after going through a rather difficult time, I consider myself comparatively sane, I am proud of that.”

One of the iconic women of the 20th century, Jackie Kennedy, is such an interesting story and how her life and that of the country was dramatically changed on the terrible day in Dallas. According to the author Jackie spent the rest of her life attempting to heal from that horrific day in Dallas. Eliza Foss did a good job narrating the book.

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- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."

At times very condescending

I listened to this book about a month ago and I still keep thinking and feeling about the reader's tone of voice that many times was very condescending. However, I do not think that is what was meant to be portrayed. Since PTSD was not understood then as it is now, it felt like the reader was belittling Jacque for "being weak". It made me feel like she was being portrayed as a "spoiled child" trying to get attention.

In another vein, one must realize that when Jacque was growing up it was still the woman's role, so to speak, to cater to her husband and to support him "no matter what". A kind of "stand by your man" mentality. Trust me, I lived through this era, saw the change, and, Jacque was a "last of the breed" type woman. I think this also helped to inadvertently portray her as a weak spoiled girl/woman.

When she married Onassis, one can look back and see that she needed to get away from the constant reminder of her nightmare experience, and I am sure this seemed to be a good way to do it, to run away, to get away from all the reminders of that traumatic day she had to endure and had to keep experiencing daily through the constant reminders she had to face. I think this marriage was an attempt at escape, not the fulfillment of a great love of her life. Even with this, the escape did not work.

I would have liked to have heard more about her relationship with her children. The book made it sound like they were very seldom around.

My heart goes out to Jacque with the unimaginable things she had to endure. With this in mind, the condescending tone from the reader was just too much for me to bear. However, I am glad I listened to the book, and I would recommend it, if only for the new perspective and how she still handled things like a Lady, even enduring the unknown symptoms and consequences of PTSD.
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- Judy "I have worked so hard for so long that I've had very little time to read. Enter iPhone4; now an earbud has cut driving time while I enjoy!!!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-28-2014
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio