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Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation
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Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  825 ratings  ·  66 reviews
It is perhaps the most memorable event of the twentieth century, a moment that left a family and a nation mourning, one that many Americans recall as their first historical memory—the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Within seven weeks of the President's death, Jacqueline Kennedy received more than 800,000 condolence letters. Two years later, the volume of corres
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Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Ecco (first published 2010)
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Jim Cullison
An incredibly powerful, wrenching, and surprisingly revealing read that upends much of what you might have thought about the 35th president and his impact on the masses of ordinary Americans in the early 1960s. Having ingested the overwhelming majority of bios in the vast JFK sub-genre, I had doubted that I would learn anything from opening up the covers of this book. I was profoundly wrong. Fitzpatrick has painstakingly excavated not only the raw emotions of the assasination's aftermath, but al ...more
Alexis Ercoli
It will take me a awhile to get through this book, as the letters are so beautiful and poignant, I seem to weep after every other one. You should definitely keep a box of kleenex next to you while reading. The widespread grief felt by JFK's death and the insights into the way he touched people's lives across the country is truly fascinating and inspiring. This book reminds me what America is all about.
Dora
This was just phenomenal to read. In carefully curating this collection of condolence letters to Jackie Kennedy, Ellen Fitzpatrick paints a portrait of American life in this confusing and difficult time.

There were originally almost a million letters, I'm amazed she got this book down to 250. I loved how she reproduced them without changing them- spelling errors and confusing syntax and all.

If you are a crier I do NOT recommend this for the subway. I got so teary-eyed reading these! Especially re
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Rose
This is a remarkable book - a glimpse into the personal lives of Americans forty-eight years ago.

Upon the tragic assasination of President Kennedy, Americans from all walks of life wrote his widow and talked about their own sense of loss and offered words of comfort. Often they bared their own deepest griefs and personal losses. They wrote about the tragedies that they still remembered and spoke plainly - and without complaints - about their own lives and the challenges they had faced. The lett
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Michael
Where does the assassination of John F. Kennedy rank in the shared history and culture of America? According to the hundreds of letters Ellen Fitzpatrick compiled in Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation, people lost a leader and a friend; a brother and a religious/political rival. They lost a president, their King Arthur. In the shock and void of the days following November 22nd, 1963, millions of Americans did the only thing they could - they wrote to Jacqueline Kennedy.

A book
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Erin
The letters in this collection are so articulate, honest, and heartfelt that I often found myself tearing up for not only a President I never knew, but for the letter writers themselves (many now deceased) who were grieving as if they had lost their own father. While the writers of these letters ranged from intellectual luminaries to uneducated African-Americans to young children, each writer evoked a sense of the nation's collective sadness -- a collective mourning that this country did not hav ...more
Jessica
Profoundly sad, inherently gorgeous, simplistically elegant... but as one of the letters said "when you grow up, you learn too many words and it becomes hard to choose the right ones."

This book is so much better than "Dear Mrs. Kennedy." That one was full of telegrams from famous people; this one had letters that could have been written by my grandparents. My favorite letter, and arguably the most well-written one, came from an inmate in Atlanta, Georgia.

My dream job would have been to help sor
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Tammy
I would highly recommend reading this book. I was not yet born when President Kennedy was assassinated but have seen on many occasions my grandmother recount that day with a tear in her eye. Reading this book will give insight to everyone resding of the deep sorrow felt by this nation during that time. Praise for the president as well as condolences for the first lady were sent by the thousands while crossing all lines of color, age, economic or educational backgrounds. This book is a remarkable ...more
Emilee
I rec'd this book from goodreads and I really wanted to like it--the subject seemed very interesting--but I just couldn't get into it. I actually didn't finish the book. Some letters are interesting, most they have a common theme and it begins to feel redundant. I appreciated the history overview throughout the book (as I wasn't alive during this time period) and the brief bios of the letter writers at the back. Overall everyone was shocked, everyone was sad and everyone couldn't imagine what wo ...more
Cheryl
i found this book to be very interesting and enlightening. I loved reading all the notes and letters from all over the world and from people of all walks of life. Not just adults , but teens, children, seniors, world leaders.... it was pretty unique. i had no idea there were so many letters and that they continued on for such a long length of time. I was a young child of 7 when this went down but i still remember it and dont think i will forget. I am so glad this book was offered at a great pric ...more
Renae
In the wake of a national tragedy, there is a sense of raw, unfiltered emotion that arises from the grief of a people. The collection of thoughts and prayers and anecdotes between the covers of Letters to Jackie did a brilliant job of capturing America’s mood in the months after the JFK assassination. These honest, heartfelt letters, written by everyday people, some with no education, some personal friends of the President, between the ages of 6 and 91, are truly breathtaking in the depth of emo ...more
Emmalee
Letters To Jackie Book Review

Perhaps one of the most memorable, if not the most memorable event of the 20th century in America, and around the world, occurred on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas when the 35th President of the Unites States of America, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald while in a presidential motorcade.
The novel Letters to Jackie, a New York Times Best Seller, a compilation of letters from hundreds of citizens compiled and authored by
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Kristen
Everyone born prior to 1961 remembers where they were when Kennedy was shot. School - lunch - work, what have you...people remember. This book details the response to the events on November 22, 1963. Jackie Kennedy recieved over 1.5 million letters of condolence from people around the world between November 23 to almost a year after. Each letter was read and cataloged and her staff responded with calling card or in some cases a picture of the fallen president.

The writers themselves represent a
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Sheila
I received this book as part of the early reviewers program from Goodreads.com. I couldn't wait to read it as I remember what I was doing and where I was when this event happened. I was effected by this tragic time in our history as many others were. As I read the letters I was once again transported back to that time when so many of us cried as our televisions were on and we could not stop watching the events unfold right in front of us. The letters reflect many different things about that time ...more
Jeanie Rex
Letters to Jackie

History is so much more interesting when it isn't just bare facts and dates. The comments and letters shared in this book helped me understand the trauma my country experienced with the death of Kennedy.
Sarah Strauss
In terms of being historical, this book is GREAT for history buffs. I bought this book because I'm a fan of John F. Kennedy and the Kennedy family. This book disappointed me because it was drawn out by the author in places where it was a struggle for me to finish this book. I understood that the letters written to Mrs. Kennedy had to be preserved. Some of the letters are riddled with grammatical errors that it drove me crazy at the beginning. I realized that the African-American community probab ...more
Beverly
Surprisingly heartbreaking, some of the letters tore at my soul. It was hard to imagine the depth of sorrow some of the writers felt from President Kennedy's death or how deeply they admired Mrs. Kennedy's courage.
Mary Fitzpatrick
Great book, highly recommend it. I am very grateful for the opportunity to read these letters, expressing the thoughts and feelings of these letter writers. The unqualified heartfelt expressions of empathy and sympathy reminded me of a time when people were not filled with hate and judgment about indivdual's character flaws, puplically rejoicing in a person's faults, but instead chose to speak about that part of the individual's character that was truly great,because either it was real, which in ...more
J
Powerful book of moving and compassionate letters addressed to Jackie Kennedy.
Rachel Nelson
While the concept for the book was interesting, the letters, after reading essentially the same words ("I'm sorry for your loss" kind of stuff) for a while, it got really boring and I just couldn't read them anymore. Maybe if I had been around for JFK's assassination it would have been different, but I just had a hard time staying engaged and motivated to keep turning the pages. I did, however, really enjoy the biographies of the letter writer's in the back of the book, so when I came across an ...more
Joanne
These are letters that were written to Jacqueline Kennedy (a few to Caroline or John) after the assasination of John F Kennedy. The letters are so heart-felt and you can actually feel the trauma and heart-break these people are feeling.
The letters were written by all age levels, all races, all political parties.
It really brings to your mind the abxolute devastation the country was feeling at the time. And this is just a very small portion of the deluge received by Jackie. This is definitely a r
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Sekya
A great piece of history that must be saved and cherished.
Tiffany
Apr 28, 2010 Tiffany rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tiffany by: NY Times article 3/9/10
Just read about this one on the NY Times and the article alone brought tears to my eyes! Don't know how I'll get through reading the entire book...

I enjoyed this book as much as you can possible enjoy something with this sad of a topic. I was a little annoyed that after I read all of the letters, the last 30 pages were little biographies of the letter writers. It was too much to go back and look at each letter but I looked at a few and wish that I had known so I could have done that after readin
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Monica
I knew what I was in for in terms of the condolence letters, I just thought, how many more there were without being in this book. JFK was a President that was young, but touched across all ages and races. There was just something about him.
Elizabeth Good
Heart-wrenching book that captured the pulse of a grieving nation. I knew and experienced, firsthand, the emotions expressed in the chosen sampling of condolences. I was only 11 years old, but I remember hearing about the multitude of letters that were being sent to Jackie. It is only now, in this 21st century, that Americans have healed enough to handle reading them, and yet, this book was so difficult to get through. I would have enjoyed (bad choice of words) reading the thousands more that we ...more
Kathy McC
I cried off and on throughout most of this book. Fitzpatrick does a great job of selecting a cross-section of letters that transcend racial, gender, age,educational, and political viewpoints. There is also a significant amount of background research included in this book that depicts the "Camelot" of this era in history, as well as the impact of the Kennedy assassination. Fitzpatrick does not analyze whether JFK was a great president, she merely attempts to demonstrate what he, and ultimately hi ...more
Heather
Many of these letters were very touching but two things stuck out the most to me. 1) It is interesting to think back to how news stories used to spread before the internet, text messaging, round-the-clock news, etc. 2) So many of the same government issues are still on the table (health care, race relations, poverty).

Having not been alive in 1963, I found I could still relate to the shock and sadness of JFK's assassination. It brought back memories of 9/11 and collective grief of our nation.
Kristin
The lost art of letting writing LIVES!

I love this book. It's like peaking into someone's box of saved stuff after they've died. You know they aren't going to catch you, yet it still seems like you have to sneak.

Fitzpatrick picks incredible letters written by average people, but occasionally throws in some who are historically relevant or were familiar with the President and First Lady, either through fund raising, or during the funeral procession.


This book is not to be missed.
Elizabeth
This was a tender and poignant book. Each letter in the book told a story of sadness and grief but also compassion towards the family of a beloved president. This book shows how Americans- all Americans- shared in the tragedy of the Kennedy assassination. Throughout American history great sorrow has brought great unity, and this book clearly represents this truth through the personal feelings of hundreds of Americans. They all shared in a common sadness, for they all shared a common president.
Gabrielle
This book was touching and gave an amazing glimpse into American history. At times, the emotion was so strong that I had to set the book aside just to get away from the pain and sadness. Not only can you learn a great deal about how our nation handled this crisis, but you can see how far our nation has come. The difference in education among people of different races and socioeconomic statuses is glaringly obvious through their writing (in comparison to today).
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7DRAKE: Letters to Jackie 1 2 Mar 10, 2014 05:36PM  
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Ellen Fitzpatrick, a professor and scholar specializing in modern American political and intellectual history, is the author and editor of six books and has appeared regularly on PBS’s The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. She has been interviewed as an expert on modern American political history by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Boston Globe, the Washin ...more
More about Ellen Fitzpatrick...
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