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A Woman Named Jackie: An Intimate Biography of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

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For more than 25 years, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis has been the focus of unparalleled fascination and uninterrupted curiosity. Heymann provides the most comprehensive portrait of this complex woman ever published, based on hu ndreds of exclusive interviews and unprecedented access to personal source materials. 16 pages of photos.


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For more than 25 years, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis has been the focus of unparalleled fascination and uninterrupted curiosity. Heymann provides the most comprehensive portrait of this complex woman ever published, based on hu ndreds of exclusive interviews and unprecedented access to personal source materials. 16 pages of photos.

30 review for A Woman Named Jackie: An Intimate Biography of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I have always thought that a great biography allows you to come to your own conclusions about the subject of said Biography. I don't want to know how I biographer feels about the person they're writing about unless they make their opinion known upfront. If your a fan, tell me your a fan. If you think the person is vapid and awful let that be known at the beginning of the book so I can choose to either continue reading it or not. C. David Heymann does not like Jackie Onassis but I didn't realize I have always thought that a great biography allows you to come to your own conclusions about the subject of said Biography. I don't want to know how I biographer feels about the person they're writing about unless they make their opinion known upfront. If your a fan, tell me your a fan. If you think the person is vapid and awful let that be known at the beginning of the book so I can choose to either continue reading it or not. C. David Heymann does not like Jackie Onassis but I didn't realize that until I was 150 pages in. He blames her for the following things: Her parents divorce, her father's drinking problems, her father's death, JFK's nonstop cheating, JFK's death, Ari Onassis's death, his son's death, his daughter's depression & death, everything wrong in her sisters life, and he accuses her of not fighting her terminal Cancer hard enough. I'm serious. I probably forgot even more things Jackie is responsible for. Jackie Kennedy Onassis was an complex woman. She always wanted to live life on her own terms and she mostly did. She had a never ending fear of going broke like her father did. Some people called her a social climber but I don't think there's anything wrong with that. She stayed married to men who didn't treat her well because she liked the life they provided her with. She raised 2 smart well adjusted kids and she got a job in her 50's when she didn't even need to. Jackie wasn't perfect. She was aloof, she held grudges and she was unapologetically greedy. But she was also a survivor. She was only 34 when she watched her husband be murdered. Imagine being covered in the person you love's brain matter. Holding pieces of his brain in your hands. Also imagine 3 months earlier your newborn son died. C. David Heymann seemed to think she was an awful person for needing to take sleeping pills for the rest her life and for having extreme mood swings. She obviously had PTSD you dummy! I didn't love this book but it was still an interesting read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    I have read a number of volumes about Mrs. Onassis (you see I call her that because I respected her) the only think that Mr. Heyman( yes pronounced as you would suspect and of which he reminds me of) got right in this loathsome tale is her name. Mrs Onassis was a smart woman who did a fairly decent job raising her children. That wasn't easy considering that she was a cultural icon. Yes, she married Onassis for his money and so what if she did. She had lost her beloved brother in law to a murderer I have read a number of volumes about Mrs. Onassis (you see I call her that because I respected her) the only think that Mr. Heyman( yes pronounced as you would suspect and of which he reminds me of) got right in this loathsome tale is her name. Mrs Onassis was a smart woman who did a fairly decent job raising her children. That wasn't easy considering that she was a cultural icon. Yes, she married Onassis for his money and so what if she did. She had lost her beloved brother in law to a murderer and was fearful for her children's lives. So she didn't love him. Did she have to? She grew up in a world where things were done differently and she reflected that upbringing in her choices. Mr. Heyman equates her with the regular folk sorry toad boy (yeah look at his picture on the cover)she never was regular people. I have always respected Mrs. Onassis because she sat in that car in that Channel suit looking into the inside of JFKs brain during that long ride to the hospital. Like her or hate her you have to give her some credit for facing the worst.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lady

    Now I understand where the epithet "Ice Princess" came from when describing Jackie O: the woman owned more diamonds than Tutankhamen. And she was astonishingly blase about them! She referred to non-rich, non-famous people as "simple people," and carped about how her dresses should be original because she didn't want to see fat little housewives hopping about in dresses like hers. She chafed at a $200,000 per annum "salary" given her by the Kennedy family - which, it must be admitted, was chump c Now I understand where the epithet "Ice Princess" came from when describing Jackie O: the woman owned more diamonds than Tutankhamen. And she was astonishingly blase about them! She referred to non-rich, non-famous people as "simple people," and carped about how her dresses should be original because she didn't want to see fat little housewives hopping about in dresses like hers. She chafed at a $200,000 per annum "salary" given her by the Kennedy family - which, it must be admitted, was chump change to them - yet in the Sixties, this was an absolute fortune. And she still overspent her budget. What a materialistic, cold, caustic, calculating woman. Her cry of "They're killing Kennedys! I've got to get my children out of this country, ergo I'm marrying a multibillionaire shipping magnate based in Greece for the sake of my children!" is RUBBISH, as said children remained in NYC attending school for the duration of her marriage. Thus, my opinion is that she used the "They're killing Kennedys!" line in order to excuse what she knew would be an unpopular marriage amongst the press. Yes, poor - *cough* - Jackie O., who jetsetted and saw and did things most of us will never see or do, and who owned jewels beyond imagination. Poor, poor Jackie O. Whatever. This book is insightful in stripping away Jackie's cultivated image as a cultivated woman and revealing her for what she really was: a vindictive, petty, manipulative, coldhearted, self-centered, materialistic, money-grubbing harpy. She and the Kennedys can all go to Halifax.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Selina

    A gossip filled account of Jackie O's life. I was new to Jackie, but I'd been curious to read what exactly she was like. Certainly many people had opinions on Jackie, which are quoted in full here, for readers to come to their own conclusion, for the author is irritatingingly circumspect about giving his own take on Jackie, stating in essence 'who knows? only Jackie herself'. If you can wade throught the snitty backbiting, what emerges is a rather self-absorbed shallow park avenue princess, who A gossip filled account of Jackie O's life. I was new to Jackie, but I'd been curious to read what exactly she was like. Certainly many people had opinions on Jackie, which are quoted in full here, for readers to come to their own conclusion, for the author is irritatingingly circumspect about giving his own take on Jackie, stating in essence 'who knows? only Jackie herself'. If you can wade throught the snitty backbiting, what emerges is a rather self-absorbed shallow park avenue princess, who one feels very little sympathy. Like Princess Diana, she married a man 12 years her senior, was an international fashion plate who endured intrusive paparazzi but unlike Diana turned a blind eye to her husbands philandering, spent lots of money, and kept up appearances at his funeral. Maybe I would have liked her more if she hadn't stood for it. It was Jackie who glossed over the presidency as 'Camelot'. Jackie's remark that she didn't want her clothes copied because she didn't want to see any 'little fat women hopping about' in them is probably most telling and damning. Life after the assasination seemd to consist of endless and meaningless rounds of parties and jet set vacations, listed adnausem here (in October she attended...in November...)I was glad when I finished it. Perhaps she was in a a way 'american royalty' but reading this cured my curiosity of the rich and famous.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Pete daPixie

    A shame that Heymann published his biography in 1989, (I'm unaware of any updates) just four years later he could have completed the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. My Kennedy book collection usually relates to the killings of JFK and RFK, so this book is off my customary reading trail, however, for £1 in a charity shop, I couldn't resist. 'A Woman Named Jackie' is just one of the many biogs/exposures that are available on this subject, and C. David Heymann covers over six hundred pages with t A shame that Heymann published his biography in 1989, (I'm unaware of any updates) just four years later he could have completed the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. My Kennedy book collection usually relates to the killings of JFK and RFK, so this book is off my customary reading trail, however, for £1 in a charity shop, I couldn't resist. 'A Woman Named Jackie' is just one of the many biogs/exposures that are available on this subject, and C. David Heymann covers over six hundred pages with the insides on the Bouvier, Kennedy and Onassis years. Fey, was how John Kennedy described his wife, though that could be applied to so many in these three family circles. A fascinating and exhaustively detailed life story with full supporting cast. I have visited JFK's grave and wondered how many other women have their remains interred in Arlington?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I enjoyed this book. I felt it gave a more measured opinion of Jackie than othe books I have read. Some interesting things that I had not heard before.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Rossi

    A Woman Named Jackie, by C. David Heymann, follows the incredibly scandalous and illustrious life of the one and only Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. It begins from the start of her slightly tragic childhood, exposing the intimate details of her formative years, from her parents’ divorce to her schooling. It follows her life on the campaign trail, issues of John F. Kennedy’s infidelity, and the years following the death of her husband. This book serves as a tell all for the incredibly co A Woman Named Jackie, by C. David Heymann, follows the incredibly scandalous and illustrious life of the one and only Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. It begins from the start of her slightly tragic childhood, exposing the intimate details of her formative years, from her parents’ divorce to her schooling. It follows her life on the campaign trail, issues of John F. Kennedy’s infidelity, and the years following the death of her husband. This book serves as a tell all for the incredibly controversial life of Jackie Kennedy, and depicts her as a brilliant woman that played an integral role in her husband’s success. While some may argue that a biography about Jackie Kennedy seems a little inane, as most people think that her life’s accomplishments don’t extend beyond marrying well, I would reply that this biography truly shows how important she was to shaping a key aspect of American history. This biography demonstrates that not only did she help JFK get elected to the White House, but she actually accomplished quite a feat when she arrived there; she single handedly rassled up several committees, prized pieces of artwork, and millions of dollars worth of funding to refurbish the White House. This book tells the reader that Jackie Kennedy was a lot more than a style icon, but an incredible woman capable of incredible things. Furthermore, this book teaches the reader about the immense difficulties of the campaign trail.Though many would think that a politician’s wife wouldn’t play as key of a role in his campaign, this book certainly proves them wrong. It clearly demonstrates instances in which Jackie worked just as hard, or even harder than JFK, and shows the reader that a first lady’s job is almost as grueling as her husband’s.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    I read Sarah Bradford's detailed bio on Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis which covered her from birth to her death in 1994. I really enjoyed it, but this one by Heymann was more fun to read. The author unearthed a large amount of information that Bradford's biography didn't have (whether by choice or not I don't know). It certainly isn't as flattering to the late Mrs. Onassis as America's Queen is. However it isn't written to be bitchy and mean. Its just that the real woman behind the legend i I read Sarah Bradford's detailed bio on Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis which covered her from birth to her death in 1994. I really enjoyed it, but this one by Heymann was more fun to read. The author unearthed a large amount of information that Bradford's biography didn't have (whether by choice or not I don't know). It certainly isn't as flattering to the late Mrs. Onassis as America's Queen is. However it isn't written to be bitchy and mean. Its just that the real woman behind the legend isn't terribly attractive. Heymann's extensive research shows her to be as self-interested, grasping and opportunistic as any East Coast socialite. The men in her life are really what brought Jackie to the attention of the World. Otherwise she would have come and gone entirely unnoticed. Heymann's book is a fascinating look into a strata of American society that I suspect has changed very little over the years. Highly recommend.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    If you've ever been the least bit curious about Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis--as a style icon, a First Lady, a cultural preservationist, a 20th century figure--read this book. Truman Capote, Little Edie Beale (Grey Gardens) and others share stories that reveal the cold-hearted, mercenary black widow she was: a secretive woman who enjoyed bleeding everyone dry, who would turn on you on a whim, who would promise financial aid and not deliver it. The JFK years are especially intriguing, with If you've ever been the least bit curious about Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis--as a style icon, a First Lady, a cultural preservationist, a 20th century figure--read this book. Truman Capote, Little Edie Beale (Grey Gardens) and others share stories that reveal the cold-hearted, mercenary black widow she was: a secretive woman who enjoyed bleeding everyone dry, who would turn on you on a whim, who would promise financial aid and not deliver it. The JFK years are especially intriguing, with tales of her and JFK's amphetamine use, his daily womanizing, her wielding of power with an iron fist. So is the era of Onassis, a man whom she essentially lived apart from--even as he died--while draining his wealth. At 750 pages, the book may seem daunting, but it's entirely engaging.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I didn't actually get very far (pg. 183), but I was horribly disappointed. The cover is promising, but all hope should end there. What annoyed me the most was Heymann's unending description of JFK's affairs. That's not why I was reading this!!! Furthermore, the information he gave on her was basic and poorly written. If you're interested in learning about Jackie Kennedy Onassis, look elsewhere.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Vikki

    This is all and more that I've ever wanted to know about Jackie Onassis. It is hard to know what to believe. Although I tend to suspect very little exageration in this book as there were so many interviews etc. that make up this book. This book named names, dates, and places.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    What courage, faith, and elegance this woman had. If you appreciate Jacquueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis as a woman read her story. Really appreciated the way she fought for herself using manners.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ann Pierson

    While reading this book, I could not help but question the truth in it. It is so over the top with what can be referred to as trashy gossip! I did a little research on the author. It's not too difficult to find that he has a very poor reputation in regard to his truthfulness. http://www.newsweek.com/2014/09/05/c-... Three time "Pulitzer nominee"?? Here's a great explanation of that one: http://realhistoryarchives.blogspot.c... I'm still reading it, but with a great deal of skepticism. The good news While reading this book, I could not help but question the truth in it. It is so over the top with what can be referred to as trashy gossip! I did a little research on the author. It's not too difficult to find that he has a very poor reputation in regard to his truthfulness. http://www.newsweek.com/2014/09/05/c-... Three time "Pulitzer nominee"?? Here's a great explanation of that one: http://realhistoryarchives.blogspot.c... I'm still reading it, but with a great deal of skepticism. The good news is that I got it for 10 cents....

  14. 4 out of 5

    Heather McC

    As a bibliophile who has read dozens of books on Jackie and the Kennedys, this title remains at the top of my list and a personal favorite due to the depth and great attention given to the former first lady. While many books span only her only years, White House years, or Jackie O years, Heymann pays careful detail and respect to all aspects and corners of her life, leaving no stone unturned while telling memorable stories. Further evidence of the books's superiority is found in the TV miniserie As a bibliophile who has read dozens of books on Jackie and the Kennedys, this title remains at the top of my list and a personal favorite due to the depth and great attention given to the former first lady. While many books span only her only years, White House years, or Jackie O years, Heymann pays careful detail and respect to all aspects and corners of her life, leaving no stone unturned while telling memorable stories. Further evidence of the books's superiority is found in the TV miniseries - A Woman Named Jackie.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Constance

    It took me almost a year to read this tome. I finished it because I owe it to the book, not the author to finish it. Overall disappointing. Many books have been written about Jacqueline Kennedy; this is one your don't need to read. I found this book at an antique store for $6. I couldn't pass it up, but it will have a place on my book shelves to fill up space.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bryony Stuart

    Surprising in so many ways! Details about her life and struggles make you appreciate her strength even more.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Colleen O'Connell

    It was a book I got from the last time I was in my aunts house. A chic memoir read by a chic woman.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    I may not have liked what all I read about the past, but the book was thorough and interesting.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Aileen

    a fascinating story.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Mundy

    A gossipy book that keeps the reader engaged. I've read better books.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    **#69 of 120 books pledged to read during 2017**

  22. 4 out of 5

    Petra

    This is not a biography but a badly written book about people saying stuff about the Kennedys.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rusty

    This book is a most readable discussion about a woman caught in the spotlight for most of her life. It begins with Jackie's childhood, background about her family and the divorce of her parents. The animosity between her parents affected her profoundly. Jackie became a very private person drawing deep within herself. I couldn't help wondering if she ever trusted anyone. I do feel that she must have been insecure. She did have a coming out party and was named debutante of the year but she did not This book is a most readable discussion about a woman caught in the spotlight for most of her life. It begins with Jackie's childhood, background about her family and the divorce of her parents. The animosity between her parents affected her profoundly. Jackie became a very private person drawing deep within herself. I couldn't help wondering if she ever trusted anyone. I do feel that she must have been insecure. She did have a coming out party and was named debutante of the year but she did not mention that honor to her friends. Jackie attended Vassar but did not enjoy the school and transferred for her senior year. This is a quick reading and exciting book, perhaps because I lived through those years. Jackie dated many but eventually focused on Jack Kennedy with his good looks and money. Her mother's influence can be seen in that decision. She was a strong domineering woman. Interestingly, her father and Jack Kennedy were both womanizers which must have been difficult. How can anyone feel comfortable about one's life when those she loves most so often seek sexual gratification elsewhere? She became deeply to attached Joseph Kennedy. However, because she cherished privacy, she found the Kennedy clan gatherings disconcerting. I can understand that feeling as it happened to me as well. When the marriage occurred it was a media event, structured to strengthen Jack Kennedy's political career. Jackie's own father was so drunk he could not stand so her step father walked her down the aisle. Her mother forbade even her father's attendance. Into politics - senate and the presidency, she seemed to find her stride. With the assassination, she felt lost and threatened. I kept seeing the photo of her with the children in my mind. Much has been written about Jackie Kennedy, her family, the Kennedys and the events surrounding all their lives. I couldn't help agreeing with the author and wonder if anyone really knew who she was.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dna

    I read this biography as a kid, but don't remember how I came across it. My parents would seldom buy me books, so I picked up and read whatever came my way, and I think this is the book that started my Jackie O. obsession. OH MAH GUDDDDD the descriptions in this of Jackie and her sister, Lee, on shopping sprees in Europe? They made my eyeballs sweat! Another great bio I read around the same time, which I probably acquired the same way come to think of it, was a biography on Jackie's stepdaughter I read this biography as a kid, but don't remember how I came across it. My parents would seldom buy me books, so I picked up and read whatever came my way, and I think this is the book that started my Jackie O. obsession. OH MAH GUDDDDD the descriptions in this of Jackie and her sister, Lee, on shopping sprees in Europe? They made my eyeballs sweat! Another great bio I read around the same time, which I probably acquired the same way come to think of it, was a biography on Jackie's stepdaughter, Christina Onassis, called All the Pain Money Can Buy: The Life of Christina Onassis. Uhmezzink!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kiessa

    As an avid reader of Kennedy biographies and history it seems to me that this book, more than any other, presents Jackie as pretentious, greedy, cold, elitist, materialistic and manipulative. While the author seemed to have conducted extensive research, one gets the sense that there was an axe to grind or a driving bias behind this portrayal. Balanced it is not. That said, like other Kennedy biographies, it is interesting and full of facts noted elsewhere, but not my favorite by any means.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maki

    Started disliking Jackie first when I read how mean spirited and how shallow she was. But then most of the upper class people in the book were also similar - the major difference was her strength and resilience. That was remarkable. With many celebrities dying from alcohol and drug abuse, she maintained sanity. For that, a hat off from me. She did not have an easy life from the very beginning.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tienlyn

    I found this on the bathroom floor in the guestroom. I think my godmother left it for me. Either way, I started reading it in the bathroom and found that it reads quite well like a bathroom book. Informative and interesting but not one to carry out to the living room. I did, however, opt for this rather than Oscar Wilde's little brown book when utilizing my bathroom time. I really liked learning about her family's past - quite a lot I hadn't known before.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Long but worth it. The most detailed biography I've ever read, of not only the former First Lady, but of anyone, really. Delicious particulars dropped into this deeply personal life history make it intensely interesting. This was my second reading and I found even more quotables and wisdom from Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis than the first go-round.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bridgette

    I bought this book for $1 at a library sale and it was almost more like a textbook than a biography. Tt was heavily researched, as shown by lengthy interviews by stablehands who once assisted the young Jackie with her pony, all the way through to miscellaneous White House aides. Almost too many fascinating facts, and a lot of speculation.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alexianne

    Any review of mine on this book is certainly biased as I adore Jackie herself and remain fascinated by her fantastic life. Having said that, it's a well-written biography of one of the most inspirational women of the last century that I personally look up in so many ways... it's beyond anything to just go through her colourful life full of brilliant moments and yet so many down points...

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