Review posted September 3, 2012.
Hyperion, New York, 2011. 368 pages, 8 compact discs.
This book plus CD set is a recording of seven conversations in 1964 between Jacqueline Kennedy and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., about her life with John Kennedy. The CDs hold the actual conversations, and the accompanying book has a transcript, with footnotes identifying people and events, and also many photographs from the times being referred to. I listened to the CDs in the car to and from work, and then read the footnotes for the section I'd heard.
Now I was born after John F. Kennedy's presidency. In fact, the final conversation happened a couple weeks before I was born. So I don't know a lot about that period of history, and certainly most of the names of the people in the Kennedys' lives were unfamiliar to me.
But they were still fun to listen to. I've heard of the charm of Jacqueline Kennedy, and you could definitely hear that charm in her voice. Her attitudes about being a good wife definitely reflected the time period, but what an asset she must have been to him! She definitely thought the world of her husband, and this is an intriguing look about what it was like to live in the White House at that time.
So even though I didn't really know what they were talking about, I read the footnotes later and still found myself fascinated by what I was hearing. Those who know more about the JFK presidency may find it much more interesting.
Fifty years from now, it may not be very meaningful to hear a recording of people speaking about our times. But I haven't heard too many recordings from before I was born, and it felt historic and important to hear the voice of Jacqueline Kennedy herself.