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

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  680 Ratings  ·  77 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
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Ecco (first published 2010)
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Jim Cullison
Nov 20, 2011 Jim Cullison rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 25, 2010 Alexis Ercoli rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 29, 2010 Dora rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 11, 2010 Erin rated it really liked it
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
Mar 30, 2010 Rose rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, history
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
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
Feb 17, 2010 Sheila rated it it was amazing
I received this book as part of the early reviewers program from 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
Oct 21, 2012 Tammy rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 17, 2010 Emilee rated it it was ok
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
Mar 10, 2010 Crystal rated it it was amazing
very touching collection of condolences
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
More accurate rating: 3.5 for overall enjoyment, 4.5 for providing snapshot of history through unusual lens and excellent framing of society in 1963.

This is a hard book to read on several levels. First, there is the emotional beating one takes reading 250 letters to the widow of one of the most well-known public figures of the 20th century. It's brutal to take in that much pain, confusion, and deep emotion in short order. Second, while many of the letters are eloquent and all seem heartfelt, th
Mar 16, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it
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
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
Feb 10, 2014 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 09, 2010 Tiffany rated it liked it
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
Apr 19, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 09, 2010 Kristin rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 08, 2010 Bridget rated it liked it
It was good - not amazing, but definitely good. A compilation of letters sent to Jackie O after the assassination of her husband and how they represented Americans was interesting. Many subgroups of people were represented and some accounts brought a tear to my eye. A bit repetitive - hundreds of letters on the same topic to the same person with similar emotions behind them - but a new glimpse into a fascinating era of history.
Ashley Edwards
Jul 20, 2010 Ashley Edwards rated it it was amazing
I think that this book is very important, especially since I did not live through this tragedy. By reading this book and these letters I feel like I've been transported to the days surrounding the shooting. I can feel some of the pain, anger, and confusion that the writers were feeling as they wrote to First Lady Jackie Kennedy. If you read this book, and I seriously recommend that you do, keep a box of tissues handy because I've been crying a lot as I read it.
May 03, 2010 Emily rated it liked it
This book is a compilation of over 200 letters that were sent to Jackie Kennedy after her husband was assassinated. The most interesting aspect of this book to me was reading the history of the events of the day JFK was killed and other commentary. Reading letter after letter got redundant after a while and I found myself skimming to the commentary provided by the author. This book does provide an interesting view of a different time.
Mar 12, 2010 Rita rated it liked it
This was interesting up to a point. I only got about half-way through when the letters started to blur together. I enjoyed Fitzpatrick's historical analysis between sections of letters, but found them too sparse and after a while reading pretty much the same sentiments over and over became a bit depressing. I think this might have some value for Kennedy scholars but could have been much shorter as popular history.
Mar 09, 2010 Anne added it
This is a great book if you lived during the time of JFK's presidency and death. It says so much about people-----what poor souls we truly are---in suffering so much loss and confusion. I feel blessed because I did meet and get to know his son"John John" through philanthropy work in Manhattan. All jfk's death leaves us is just a big question mark. Interesting book about the personal devastation people can feel for another.
Feb 16, 2010 Katie rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
These letters were very heartfelt and they really showed how much the nation was suffering even months after the assassination of JKF. The letters were very considerate and were written as a way of showing how the people were sorry about what happened to JFK and they gave their condolences to Jackie Kennedy like through that as well as go through their own emotions.

Great book.
Mar 23, 2010 Karen rated it liked it
Facinating many people felt compelled to write Jackie & tell her their feelings...their grief of loosing their President, her husband. The letters sat in the Library of Congress for years and years & finally the author decided to put it all together in a book...I liked was historical. Now if only they could solve the mystery of his assination!
Jan 07, 2010 Catherine rated it it was ok
I actually didn't finish this book. While many of the letters were interesting, in the end it just got old, and I was tired of reading them. I think if I'd just read bits of it from time to time while reading something else, I would have made it through the whole thing, but reading it straight up was just too much.
Jun 18, 2010 Betsy rated it did not like it
Thought the book would be more about how Jackie dealt with the death.
It's obviously letters from a grieving nation. There was not anything outstanding in these letters. I'm a huge follower of Jackie K. O. This book really does not reflect more insight to her experience. This is a new book. I understand why no one published this sort of book before.
Dean Heitman
May 29, 2010 Dean Heitman rated it liked it
Everyone knows where they were when JFK was killed. It was a terrible time in our history. These are letters send to Jackie after he was killed. Not a book that you can sit down and just read. I read most of the letters over a period of time.
Mar 13, 2010 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was not alive during the Kennedy time but this book made me ask a lot of questions. I"m sure glad I picked it up. You won't be disappointed. The writers of these letters are young and old, educated and non-educated, black, white and every other race.
Heartwarming. And for the conspiracy theorists in the crowd,author notes in 2500 letters per box, with line of boxes 1/4 mile long page 10: "There are no letters from eyewitnesses in the condolence letters".
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7DRAKE: Letters to Jackie 1 2 Mar 11, 2014 12:36AM  
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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
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