The very private life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis has always been something of a mystery to the public and seemed it would remain so forever given that the former First Lady passed away in 1994 without ever having written a memoir.
To the delight of both historians and fans of the beloved First Lady, there are now several previously sealed interviews conducted by Kennedy aide Arthur M. Schlesinger and a book to go along with them, "Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F. Kennedy", that offer up a telling glimpse at what life was like for the young widow Kennedy as well as some of her surprising personal views on marriage and her role as wife to President John F. Kennedy.
Known greatly for the independent life she led years after John F. Kennedy’s assassination as book editor and great contributor to the arts, the interviews paints a picture of a woman with very traditional views on marriage and her role as a wife.
A recent New York Times report highlights some of her more traditional views at the time when she reveals she felt it was her job to keep the children in good moods as well as “a climate of affection and comfort and détente” in her home. She also insists she never argued with her husband, John F. Kennedy, and got all of her opinions from him.
It’s difficult to say whether Jacqueline Kennedy is simply mirroring the ideals of the time or that she genuinely held more traditional views. Historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, realizes the many changes Jacqueline Kennedy went through and how differently she probably felt later in life. Kearns Goodwin says, “It’s certainly not the Jackie that we knew later on. By then, she’s a different woman.”
What do you think of this new glimpse we have into Jacqueline Kennedy’s life as a young widow?
Do you think Jacqueline Kennedy’s more traditional views of marriage and her role as a wife was something she actually felt or was she saying what she felt the public wanted to hear at the time?
I think she was deliberate in the way she shaped her image, both visually and verbally, nationally and internationally. Not even Princess Diana had as much impact. She ranks up there with Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, and Gloria Steinem.