A best-selling biographer chronicles the fabled life of Jackie Kennedy (1929-1994) and advances the claim that the former first lady spent the bulk of her post-Camelot life battling PTSD.
Jacqueline Bouvier seemed to have it all: an upper-crust upbringing and personal and social connections to the most elite families in America. Yet when the time came for her to wed, she was determined to escape “the bland predictability” of a high-society marriage that would require little else of her but to cater to the needs of a well-heeled husband. She met her match in “bad boy” John Kennedy, who she believed was her ticket to all the excitement she could ever want. JFK’s larger-than-life ambition brought the young couple international fame, but it also forced an essentially private woman to endure the brutal glare of the media spotlight and gradually transformed a dream into a nightmare long before JFK’s murder. Beset by personal difficulties, including two infant deaths and a foundering marriage, the assassination—to which she bore bloody witness—was the final straw. Leaming (Churchill Defiant: Fighting On 1945-1955, 2010, etc.) reveals that Jackie suffered from all the hallmarks of PTSD: sleep disturbances, obsessive ruminations about her husband’s murder and even thoughts of suicide. The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and her beloved brother-in-law, Robert, in 1968 became triggers for even more psychological instability and led her to wed Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, who she falsely believed would provide her the safety and distance she craved. Hounded by paparazzi and reviled by an American public eager to forget the historical traumas of the 1960s, Jackie nevertheless managed to build a life for herself on her own terms—rather than those dictated to her by her class—and emerge from tragedy, permanently wounded but “comparatively sane.”
An intimate and revealing look at one of the 20th century’s most remarkable—and misunderstood—women.