The best books on the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Who am I?

Many of my books have been on the British monarchy. Jackie was the only figure who came close to being an American queen. Her clothes drew me to her at first. Later, her decision to have an editorial career after her children were grown gave me the idea for a new biographical approach to her. I still admire Jackie for that, as well as for her low-key regality, about which she had a sense of humor.

I wrote...

Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books

By William Kuhn,

Book cover of Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books

What is my book about?

Jackie Kennedy is famous for her time with JFK in the White House and later with Onassis on his yacht. The last twenty years of her life, however, were the best. She was free of husbands. She was building a career as a book editor. She produced nearly 100 books in this period. These books offer insights into her tastes and passions as a reader. They even offer insights on her own life story.

Whether she was commissioning works on celebrities who had to hide from their own renown, or on Camelot, or on the philosophy of fashion, the stories of her books provide a new angle on what Jackie was really like.

The books I picked & why

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America's Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

By Sarah Bradford,

Book cover of America's Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Why this book?

Sarah Bradford also wrote one of the best biographies of Queen Elizabeth II. Her Jackie biography is authoritative. It covers everything from her parents' troubled marriage to Jackie’s own disappointing liaisons with powerful men. The life she built in New York after the death of Onassis is proof of what an extraordinary woman she was, perhaps the most important of America’s former first ladies. She was in a league with Eleanor Roosevelt and Abigail Adams. She had an intelligence and discernment equal to theirs but with style all her own.

As We Remember Her: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the Words of Her Family and Friends

By Carl Sferrazza Anthony,

Book cover of As We Remember Her: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the Words of Her Family and Friends

Why this book?

This volume collects the memories of people who were close to Jackie. Carl Anthony met Jackie, and better, he was in touch with Jackie’s friend Nancy Tuckerman, who helped him with addresses and telephone numbers. These are people who were willing to speak about Jackie following her premature death at the age of 65. Anthony is also an expert on presidential wives and families.

The Power of Myth

By Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers,

Book cover of The Power of Myth

Why this book?

Campbell studied religion and spirituality. This book originated with the TV interviews Campbell gave to Bill Moyers. Campbell talked about the origins of myths around the world. He also talked about how ordinary people, like Jackie Kennedy, could be transformed into mythic immortals. This happened due to her witnessing her husband’s death and her leading the world in mourning during his funeral. Jackie, who saw the interviews on television took the initiative to make them into a book when she was an editor at a publishing company. It was one of her bestsellers as an editor. Few people know how her passion for it arose from the way it shone a light on her own life.

Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy

By Caroline Kennedy, Michael Beschloss,

Book cover of Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy

Why this book?

In the year after JFK died, Jackie sat down with the historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., to record her recollections of life with her husband. They came soon after the events they recall. She trusted Schlesinger, who was a special assistant in the White House to her husband. The recordings give a special sense of who she was because you can hear her voice. They are also time capsules of another era when smoking and drinking were more common. You can hear ice cubes in glasses and cigarettes being lighted.

Jacqueline Kennedy : The White House Years: Selections from the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum

By Hamish Bowles, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Rachael Lambert Mellon

Book cover of Jacqueline Kennedy : The White House Years: Selections from the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum

Why this book?

This is an exhibition catalogue that began with a show at the Kennedy Library: the clothes Jackie wore in the White House. It has a smart introduction by Hamish Bowles, an editor at Vogue. He shows how her clothing choices were not just about looking pretty. They were about her historical vision for the role of the president’s wife, her sense of the women who had come before her, and of the American craftsmen at work in the fashion industry. The pictures are ravishing. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, JFK, and myth?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, JFK, and myth.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Explore 12 books about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
JFK Explore 37 books about JFK
Myth Explore 41 books about myth

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