Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Dear Mrs. Kennedy...Review
In the weeks and months following the assassination of her husband, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy received over one million letters. The impact of President Kennedy’s death was so immense that people from every station in life wrote to her, sharing their feelings of sympathy, sorrow, and hope.
She received letters from political luminaries such as Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Charles De Gaulle. Hollywood stars like Lauren Bacall, Vivian Leigh, and Gene Kelly voiced their sympathy, as did foreign dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth II, the King and Queen of Greece, and the Prince of Monaco. Distinguished members of the arts and society—Ezra Pound, Noel Coward, Babe Paley, Langston Hughes, Oleg Cassini, Josephine Baker—offered their heartfelt condolences. And children, with the most heartbreaking sincerity, reached out to the First Lady to comfort her in her time of grief.
More than just a compendium of letters, Dear Mrs. Kennedy uses these many voices to tell the unforgettable story of those fateful four days in November, when the world was struck with shock and sadness. It vividly captures the months that followed, as a nation—and a family—attempted to rebuild.
Filled with emotion, patriotism, and insight, these letters present a poignant time capsule of one of the seminal events of the twentieth century: a diverse portrait, not only of the aftermath of the assassination, but of the Kennedy mystique that continues to captivate the world.
Americans connected with the Kennedy family in a way that they had never done with previous presidents. Perhaps it's was JFK's youth or his ideals. Perhaps it was his movie-star looks and beautiful, poised young wife. Perhaps it was the fact that technology had made it possible for a real-time look at the president. In November of 1963, while the world watched, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and many Americans were forever changed. Those who remember that day, remember where they were and what they were doing, much as those who experienced 9/11 remember what they were doing when the twin towers fell.
After the assassination millions of people, from around the world, sent letters of sympathy and condolence to Jacqueline Kennedy. Many are from famous people: actors and politicians and foreign dignitaries. Most are from every day Americans; people who had no connection to this man, other than respect for his office and shock and grief at his violent death.
After their initial reading, these letters remained largely untouched in storage and many are now being published and seen by the public for the first time. These letters are interspersed with commentary and explanations about the time and offer a compelling, poignant glimpse into a tragic period of American history.
I noticed some editing issues and towards the end it got a bit repetitive, but I still found it fascinating, although not very uplifting. I think JFK fans will enjoy it.
Thanks to Alexis James, publicist for the author, for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Paul de Angelis here. You can purchase your own copy here.
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