In the summer of 1962, 19-year-old Mimi Beardsley arrived by train in Washington, D.C., to begin an internship in the White House press office. The Kennedy Administration had reinvigorated the capital and the country - and Mimi was eager to contribute. For a young woman from a privileged but sheltered upbringing, the job was the chance of a lifetime. Although she started as a lowly intern, Mimi made an impression on Kennedy's inner circle and, after just three days at the White House, she was presented to the President himself.
Almost immediately, the two began an affair that would continue for the next 18 months.
In an era when women in the workplace were still considered "girls", Mimi was literally a girl herself - naive, innocent, emotionally unprepared for the thrill that came when the President's charisma and power were turned on her full-force. She was also unprepared for the feelings of isolation that would follow as she fell into the double life of a college student who was also the secret lover of the most powerful man in the world.
Then, after the President's tragic death in Dallas, she grieved in private, locked her secret away, and tried to start her life anew, only to find that her past would cast a long shadow and ultimately destroy her relationship with the man she married.
In 2003, a Kennedy biographer mentioned "a tall, slender, beautiful 19-year-old college sophomore and White House intern, who worked in the press office" in reference to one of the President's affairs. The disclosure set off a tabloid frenzy and soon exposed Mimi and the secret that she had kept for 41 years. Because her past had been revealed in such a shocking, public way, she was forced, for the first time, to examine the choices she'd made. She came to understand that shutting down one part of her life so completely had closed her off from so much more.
No longer defined by silence or shame, Mimi Alford has finally unburdened herself with this searingly honest account of her life and her extremely private moments with a very public man. Once Upon a Secret offers a new and personal depiction of one of our most iconic leaders and a powerful, moving story of a woman coming to terms with her past and moving out of the shadows to reclaim the truth.
©2012 Mimi Alford (P)2012 Random House
I found the book to be a little disturbing due to I was 7 at the time President Kennedy was killed. I looked up to him then and did until I read the book. I think everyone knew he had affairs but for him to do this to Jacklyn and with a 19 year old girl, I find it shocking.
It has changed my view of him completely.....I feel very sad for his family.
No, but I really liked listening to her. She draws you in.
It was honest, frank and occasionally shocking.
There was a particularly salacious incident in the White House swimming pool.
It was a personal historical narrative - no characters, except the author.
No.I took time off to think about some aspects before going back to read more.
I am old enough to remember the Kennedy "Camelot" story and where I was when I heard that Kennedy had been shot. I have heard rumors and stories about what a womanizer he was alleged to be but this book makes it all so much more real.
I guess we all need to draw our own conclusions about Jack Kennedy. I enjoyed listening to the story but it almost seemed like a fairy tale - so bold!!
Good to hear that Ms. Alford has come through intact and she can now tell her story. Fortunately, I think she is a good and thoughtful writer.
No politics involved just a real story about a young girl and her life experience.
A book that would be truthful and tastful about how they tell a story.
Her reflections and afterthoughts
I liked the whole story
I can’t believe the moral indignation of the other reviewers. Once again, I am reminded that our world regressed in the last century, not progressed.
I have to admit that after hearing the first chapter, when she tells how the story of her adolescent affair with JFK forty years earlier hit the news, I felt ashamed to be interested in it. But she quickly set me at ease, and make me part of the story – as any good writer can do – and she is a excellent writer. I assumed at first it was ghost-written, but became convinced she wrote it herself – at least most of it.
This is history, and should be regarded as such – history written by an insider with a special background. That is probably also why I could identify with her, because I had a similar, sexually repressed childhood. Something nearly impossible to get over.
Back in the early Sixties, when this history was happening, my life was also centered on New York City. Beth and I got married when we were living living in Manhattan. We later moved to California, but our New York years stand out as some of the best in our hectic, short life together.
In the Sixties America had its last chance to redeem itself – and failed. Mimi’s history is a vital part of that story.
A real eye-opener on the antics of the President. Makes one wonder how he stayed on top of everything (no pun intended), and how many others are still out there.
All were commendable
Amazed at how all this took place.
Mimi Alford kept her secret affair with JFK a secret for 40 some years which in a society where women are creating and "leaking" sex tapes to get attention is unheard of. Her story is engrossing and shocking at the same time. I am a huge fan of any book that deals with JFK, Marilyn Monroe, The Rat Pack etc. This book is clearly a story that would never have come out had she not been "outed". A very good listen.
I hesitated listening to this book because of my respect and amiration for Jackie Kennedy but I was intrigued and pludged forward. I did enjoy the book and it made me spend a lot of time doing google searches to learn more about JFK's affairs. For instance, I watched the Barbara Walters interview and I felt sorry for Mimi on how she was treated by Barbara. I respect Mimi for how well she handled the interview. While listening to the story, I felt a compassion for Mimi and thought many times "what would I have done". I did have a hard time believing some of the verbiage towards the end of the book, such as when said she disposed of the personal items given to her by JFK. Not something I think I would do but needless to say I never received any gifts from JFK so who am I to judge.In conclusion, I recommend this book and hats off to Mimi Alford.
Less personal information after the death of the President and more information about their relationship.
How easy it was to cover up. Her life after the death of the president
Kind of blase.
Wow, Mimi Alford is, on many levels, one brave woman. She was basically raped by Kennedy in their first encounter. He recognized that she was inexperienced and asked if she had ever done "this" before -- AND SHE TOLD HIM NO. He didn't step back and examine the moral dilemma created by taking advantage of this confused, inexperienced, star struck girl. He proceeded to had sex with her anyway -- the thrill of having a virgin perhaps sweetening the prize. Certainly a president has stress beyond the comprehension of most of us, and he deserved relief from it in the manner he was accustomed to. But Mimi, she should have been off limits, even to him. He clearly took advantage of his awe-inspiring stature. To be wanted by him must have been intoxicating. The real shame comes in the repercussions that followed her throughout her life. The secret created collateral damage one could hardly imagine. I feel sorrow for her -- it seems nothing could eclipse this series of events. Apparently she felt it was "safe" to reveal the story now. I don't wonder that Ms. Alford should have denounced him privately and had counseling for being raped and repeatedly assaulted by her abuser before she apologetically escaped.
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