Author Sarah Bradford writes about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, from her birth into a life of privilege, pomp and circumstance through her battle to uphold some sense of a ‘normal’ life for herself and her children in spite of being the first lady to a philandering husband—and, even after the death of John. F. Kennedy, her continued struggle until her death to escape the watchful and intrusive eye of the media and live her life to its fullest potential. Bradford uses quotations by friends, acquaintances and observers that surrounded Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis during various stages of her life; painting her as an intelligent, resourceful and proactive person, who was no fool and used her “irresistible attention,” personality and driving ambition to get what she wanted, be it high-demand jobs or into tight social circles.
Bradford portrays Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as a complex individual whom one of her peers described as having “an acute instinct of self-preservation and her ability to move onwards and upwards from a losing situation.” Her complex personality drove a psychological battle to distance herself from people and issues so she could remain in control of situations, but she was also compassionate and proactive in the causes that mattered to her. For example, she changed the social pattern in the White House in the 1960s by inviting blacks to the events and making sure that racial segregation played no role in the White House.
America's Queen is well-written and effectively reveals the hardships that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis faced on so many levels—personal, public, political—but managed to handle them with strength, style and effectiveness. America's Queen is filled with moving and enlightening tidbits about her personal life, but the political and historical backdrop makes the book even more fascinating.
Sandra Burr narrates with a strong, clearly enunciated voice that maintains a steady pace. Burr also makes it easy to distinguish between quotations by sources and the narrative.
A compelling and insightful look at the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Five stars.