AMER­ICA’S QUEEN

Sarah Brad­ford Pen­guin, £14.99

The Herald - Arts - - FRONT PAGE -

To co­in­cide with the 50th an­niver­sary of JFK’s as­sas­si­na­tion comes the reis­sue of this 600-page Jackie Kennedy bi­og­ra­phy. It’s a fat book that ben­e­fits from the fact that, af­ter her death, Jackie’s friends were more re­laxed about be­ing in­ter­viewed – in­clud­ing Brad­ford’s big­gest coup, her sis­ter, Lee Radzi­will. There’s as much as you could want to know about her love life, and her hus­bands’ love lives, but the en­dur­ing pic­ture is that of a woman riven with con­tra­dic­tions. The cus­to­dian of JFK’s legacy, but also des­per­ate to es­cape it. She was the clos­est Amer­ica got to roy­alty, but also an “Amer­i­can geisha”. Pow­er­ful and ma­nip­u­la­tive, Jackie nev­er­the­less played a sys­tem that sub­ju­gated her: in mar­ry­ing Onas­sis, she was, once more, “giv­ing her­self to a man who re­garded her prin­ci­pally as an as­set rather than as a woman”. A thought-pro­vok­ing and tragic bi­og­ra­phy that gives a great deal of insight into an icon.

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