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Publisher's Summary

The untold story of how one woman’s life was changed forever in a matter of seconds by a horrific trauma.

Barbara Leaming’s extraordinary and deeply sensitive biography is the first book to document Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ brutal, lonely, and valiant 31-year struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following JFK’s assassination. Here is the woman as she has never been seen before. In heartrending detail, we witness a struggle that unfolded at times before our own eyes, but which we failed to understand.

Leaming’s biography also makes clear the pattern of Jackie’s life as a whole. We see how a spirited young woman’s rejection of a predictable life led her to John F. Kennedy and the White House, how she sought to reconcile the conflicts of her marriage and the role she was to play, and how the trauma of her husband’s murder, which left her soaked in his blood and brains, led her to seek a very different kind of life from the one she’d previously sought.

A life story that has been scrutinized countless times, seen here for the first time as the serious and important story that it is. A story for our times at a moment when we as a nation need more than ever to understand the impact of trauma.

©2014 Barbara Leaming (P)2014 Macmillan Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 11-07-14

Has New Information

This is Barbara Leaming’s third Kennedy biography. The first third of the book recycles considerable material from the first biography minus the dubious theories. Learning’s major fault as a biographer is her tendency to mind read. In this biography learning has considerable documentation from a variety of sources. The author details after the assassination how Bobby Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson sought to comfort her and to use her politically.

The main or key thrust of Leaming’s book is her claim that Jackie had PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). She documents the clinical symptoms including flashbacks, insomnia, numbness, avoidance, fear, depression and anger. The author also points out that the condition was not medically recognized until 1980. The author claims Jackie fought her way back to good mental health through her work in publishing and her contributions to land mark preservation. The author documents that Jackie’s Sister Lee Radziwell told that Bobby Kennedy’s assassination triggered a recurrence of the PTSD in Jackie. When the British poet Stephen Spender asked in 1980, about her greatest achievement, she told him, “I think it is that after going through a rather difficult time, I consider myself comparatively sane, I am proud of that.”

One of the iconic women of the 20th century, Jackie Kennedy, is such an interesting story and how her life and that of the country was dramatically changed on the terrible day in Dallas. According to the author Jackie spent the rest of her life attempting to heal from that horrific day in Dallas. Eliza Foss did a good job narrating the book.


16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting but at times repetitive

Any additional comments?

Interesting story, in-depth research, and compelling narrative, but often repetitive, especially as it relates to the PTSD aspect. This is my first lengthy encounter with Jackie Kennedy, and, although I admire her for her perseverance, I did not find her very inspiring or likable. She comes across as canning and opportunistic. I was hoping for a strength and nobility of character, but I did not find them in this biography. I was more inspired by Catherine the Great. Eliza Foss's narration was excellent.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Little about Jackie!

This book has more about Jack and a little of Jackie thrown in every now and then. I have always enjoyed reading anything I could find about the Kennedys. This book was a huge disappointment because I wanted to read about Jackie, not the details about Jack. Yes, I know those things shaped her and their relationship, but there was just too little about her. I returned it before I finished it because it was such a disappointment.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Worth a listen

Not my favorite Kennedy book but definitely was informative and engaging. Glad that I listened

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A good read

Would you consider the audio edition of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis to be better than the print version?

I wouldn't know - never read the print version.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis?

It makes sense that Jackie acted so neurotic given the circumstances still given all the resources at her disposal she still didn't seem to be able to find peace.

Which character – as performed by Eliza Foss – was your favorite?

Not sure.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No extreme reaction one way or another.

Any additional comments?

Jackie was a very privileged woman but certainly had more than her share of tragedies in her life. Younger people today may not be able to relate to her upbringing and life style but it was something common with the very well to do at that time in history. Some reviews mentioned the absence of her children in the book but that is understandable - I got the impression they were always in the care of nannies and others. Jackie was as hands on as she could be given her upbringing but certainly nothing like the helicopter moms we see today. Yet her insistence on good manners speaks well of her as a parent. She has always impressed me with her appreciation of foreign cultures, foreign language skills and her good manners. Nowadays these qualities are given short shrift in American society and it is unfortunate. Jackie was and will always be remembered as a lady.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Informative

I was born in 1962. This book helped me to form a timeline of events. It also helped me to identify the names that went with different events in time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A solid bio with a New Twist

Jacqueline's life is a fascinating story. The dramatic events are indelibly engraved into the American psyche. Her elegance and poise are a reference for women around the world. She was adored and rejected by the public in her lifetime and is still misunderstood. This well researched biography retells her story with vivid details and introduces the symptoms of PTSD as a determining factor post JFK assassination and beyond. The narration is pleasant and lively making listening easy and engaging. A highly recommended read for lovers of biographies and history as well as for those who enjoy a good story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Judy
  • Waverly, OH, United States
  • 12-26-14

At times very condescending

I listened to this book about a month ago and I still keep thinking and feeling about the reader's tone of voice that many times was very condescending. However, I do not think that is what was meant to be portrayed. Since PTSD was not understood then as it is now, it felt like the reader was belittling Jacque for "being weak". It made me feel like she was being portrayed as a "spoiled child" trying to get attention.

In another vein, one must realize that when Jacque was growing up it was still the woman's role, so to speak, to cater to her husband and to support him "no matter what". A kind of "stand by your man" mentality. Trust me, I lived through this era, saw the change, and, Jacque was a "last of the breed" type woman. I think this also helped to inadvertently portray her as a weak spoiled girl/woman.

When she married Onassis, one can look back and see that she needed to get away from the constant reminder of her nightmare experience, and I am sure this seemed to be a good way to do it, to run away, to get away from all the reminders of that traumatic day she had to endure and had to keep experiencing daily through the constant reminders she had to face. I think this marriage was an attempt at escape, not the fulfillment of a great love of her life. Even with this, the escape did not work.

I would have liked to have heard more about her relationship with her children. The book made it sound like they were very seldom around.

My heart goes out to Jacque with the unimaginable things she had to endure. With this in mind, the condescending tone from the reader was just too much for me to bear. However, I am glad I listened to the book, and I would recommend it, if only for the new perspective and how she still handled things like a Lady, even enduring the unknown symptoms and consequences of PTSD.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved It

It was interesring to hear the story of her life from a different perspective. She was a very misunderstood woman.

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  • SD
  • 04-02-18

JACQUELINE BOUVIER KENNEDY ONASSIS: Untold Story

Would you listen to Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis again? Why?

Yes, there was a lot of information in this book

What did you like best about this story?

I have read and listened to other books about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and believe her to have been a "class act" of the variety that we will probably never see again. She is presented as a truly sympathetic person. I am sure there will be people who judge her by today's standards and find her to be antiquated and her values obsolete. That is too bad, because she was a product of her time and circumstances. Did she do anything to better the lot of others? No, but her husband did, and she, as a woman of her time and background, would not have been expected to do anything else. Not all women of her class could be Eleanor Roosevelts (but that's a whole different lady).

Have you listened to any of Eliza Foss’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not, but I will be looking for them in future. She is excellent.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were several moments that were moving. The subject itself was moving.

Any additional comments?

When one compares the politics of Jacqueline Kennedy's time with those of today, it is distressing and repulsive. Were the politics of that time more civil or did people just have more class, higher standards of behavior, and just plain old common decency at least in public?

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • gmb
  • 09-23-16

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

An extremely incisive book on the life of Jacqueline Kennedy after the Presidents assassination. Thoroughly recommended.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Frankimunk
  • 05-03-16

Absolutely brilliant

Who knew that Jackie Kennedy suffered the rest of her life of Extreme PTSD after the assassination of her husband President JFKennedy? Not me, so this well written book is very interesting and revealing.
Jackie unaware of her condition suffered terribly during her life because little was known or understood about PTSD in the 60s.
At last-minute book that does her justice and credit for a much maligned and misunderstood life..

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Miss S Attarid
  • 01-18-17

What an amazing insight.

Loved this book, a completely different view of Jackie. A definite must listen for anyone interested in seeing her through fresh eyes!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mrs. S. E. Binns
  • 02-06-17

UNDERSTANDING PTSD

Would you consider the audio edition of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis to be better than the print version?

YES

What did you like best about this story?

It was very revealing in two ways. It showed for the first time that Jacky Kennedy Onassis suffered PTSD (not understood the time of the ssassination) for 31 years. The second thing was the insight into how PTSD affects thee sufferer. A truly amazing and thoughtful book

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Hard to say. Harold MacMillan's kindness to her, as he was in WW1 and had experience of trauma

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The fact Jacky told anyone she met, in detail, what had happened in Dallas - reliving it endlessly. It became clear that she had not just lost her husband - she had an appalling experience that no-one really considered properly

Any additional comments?

The Vietnam was the turning point for sufferers - after that it became clear that terrible shock makes you ill but the sufferer can be helped

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • cg
  • 01-10-18

great read

excellent and most authentic account I have read. excellent explanation and understanding of the dynamucs



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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Dunblane1
  • 12-29-16

Post traumatic stress disorder huh?

Before I purchased it I wish I'd known the actual premise for the writing of this book. The author alleges that following her husband's assassination the subject suffered PTSD for 31 years! Consequently every decision, interaction, quotes etc made by the subject are set in this context and I suspect edited accordingly.



0 of 3 people found this review helpful