“I don’t remember ANY-thing,” John says playfully.
The book barely mentions the president’s assassination. In a foreword, Caroline Kennedy notes her mother had discussed his murder at length with historian William Manchester but later sued to keep much of the material from being published until 2067. Manchester’s book on Kennedy, “The Death of a President,” came out in 1967.
Jacqueline Kennedy also gave a memorable interview with journalist Theodore H. White, when she referred to her husband’s time in the White House as “Camelot,” but Caroline Kennedy said the interviews in the new book were “by far the most important” her mother ever gave.
“My mother willingly recalled the span of her married life and shared her insights into my father’s private and public political personality,” Caroline Kennedy wrote.
The former first lady, who died in 1994, and Schlesinger, who died in 2007, at times sound like a couple of old friends sharing gossip, ridiculing Richard Nixon’s wife, Pat, or labeling LBJ’s wife, Lady Bird, as so obedient she was like a “trained hunting dog.” (She would later soften that opinion.)
At other times, the scholarly Schlesinger fills her in on details about her husband before she knew him or corrects a name or date.
Jacqueline Kennedy, clearly at ease, speaks candidly about her in-laws and about other Kennedy insiders. She marvels at the suspicious nature of her mother-in-law, Rose Kennedy, always wanting to know whether someone was Catholic.
“There seems to be about all these Irish _ they always seem to have a sort of persecution thing about them, don’t they?” she asks.
She also accuses sister-in-law Eunice Kennedy Shriver of undue personal ambition and says the president was anxious to dump FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover. She confides she didn’t trust the White House aide and speechwriter Theodore Sorensen, believing he encouraged the perception that he had ghostwritten her husband’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Profiles in Courage.”
“You know, Jack forgave so quickly, but I never forgave Ted Sorensen,” she said.
Sorensen, who died last year, was widely regarded as devoted to JFK. Jacqueline Kennedy said the president, out of personal fondness, even gave Sorensen the book’s royalties.
She offers intimate details of her husband awaiting election results in 1960, when he defeated Nixon for the presidency, or working on his inaugural speech. She says little about the events in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, but she does recall a conversation in their room the night before. She despised the Democratic governor of Texas, John Connally, who was in the car with the Kennedys when the president was shot. She said she couldn’t stand him and his “soft mouth.”
“Jack was so sweet. He sort of rubbed my back … and said, `You mustn’t say that, you mustn’t say that,’” she recalled. “If you start to say or think that you hate someone, then the next day you’ll act as if you hated him.”