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Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  340 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
An absorbing chronicle of a much overlooked chapter in Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s life—her nineteen-year editorial career

History remembers Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as the consummate first lady, the nation’s tragic widow, the millionaire’s wife, and, of course, the quintessential embodiment of elegance. Her biographers, however, skip over an equallyimportant stage in
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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 4th 2011 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published December 17th 2010)
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Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint HillJackie After O by Tina CassidyThe Kennedy Women by Laurence LeamerJacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Jacques LoweA Thousand Days of Magic by Oleg Cassini
Best Books about Jackie Kennedy
20th out of 25 books — 16 voters
Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint HillRobert Kennedy by Evan ThomasTrue Compass by Edward M. KennedyJackie, Ethel, Joan by J. Randy TaraborrelliThe Kennedy Women by Laurence Leamer
Best Books About the Kennedy Family
118th out of 133 books — 97 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Petra X
I have always been interested in Jackie Kennedy as an editor at Doubleday - I worked for Doubleday too. I liked the idea of a mega-wealthy woman, at one time considered the most beautiful and high status woman in the world actually having a job.

This is how she gets her job as a commissioning editor. She wants to get into publishing but is let down gently by a publisher saying it wouldn't be fair on junior staff to create a major opening for her, but what about being a commissioning editor? This
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Joan
Jul 16, 2014 Joan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who want to know more about publishers
This was a surprisingly well done, fascinating book. I do have mixed feelings about the book, however. I think Jackie likely would have hated this book being published. On the other hand, this was a fascinating look at how editors worked, at least in older days. Jackie's writers certainly felt the role of editors have changed and not for the better. Jackie started at Viking Press but left when they had the poor taste to publish a political thriller involving Ted Kennedy's assassination. Jackie ...more
Catherine
Feb 25, 2011 Catherine rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
I'm one of those annoying and cliched old women who loved Jacqueline Kennedy, although I'm embarrassed to admit it. And so I loved this book, which is interesting without being (very) vulgar. I'm glad I read it. Every 50 pages or so, I'd have to add something to the old Amazon wish list, but sadly, most of the books she edited are out of print and therefore out of my price range.
Irina
Jan 17, 2015 Irina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
This was an excellent read! If you are interested in Jackie's final years when she really came into her own, lived independently and pursued her intellectual passions - this is the best source!

I've always been a fan of Jackie Kennedy but I became an even bigger fan of Jackie Onassis after finish this book. She herself once admitted she she had always lived through men. But after she widowed, moved to New York city and got a job at a publishing house, Jackie blossomed. She became an independent
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John Bicknell
Oct 30, 2014 John Bicknell rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating inside look at the publishing business -- from a unique angle -- and provided some glimpses into a well-chronicled life that have only been skimmed by many of the other authors who have examined her life. Having just gone through the process of getting a book published, I found the tales of internal politics quite interesting, although my mid-size press experience bore no resemblance to the high-powered goings on at Viking or Doubleday, where JKO worked. And work she did, ...more
Barbara
I was so happy to get this book from Amazon for $1.75. Allow me to share my sighting of Jackie O. It was in the 70's and I was in NYC with a few friends. We were just walking around the city on a weekday, when a limo stopped in front of a large office building (probably one of the Publishing houses). We stopped! The door opened and we saw her. No one said a word. She was only a few steps away. We were mesmerized as she walked toward the glass doors, and we were grateful that the sidewalk was ...more
Son
Aug 08, 2014 Son rated it it was amazing
I listened to the audio to this and it was wonderful - especially on long car rides. Although I wasn't able to make a list of the books she edited I would like to read but found that via Google. What a wonderful woman and what a wonderful editor to all her authors and how lucky we are be able to find the books she helped come to fruition during her 19 yrs. I would listen to this again or read the paper copy. So many interviews and quotes and info that it only makes you love her forever more.
Joanna
When Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died, her son announced that she passed away "surrounded by her friends and her family and her books." If that were not testament enough to how much this woman loved reading, there is also the fact that she had no monetary need to work, but chose to seek employment in book publishing as a kind of vocation. Thus, it is a terrible shame that a book which admirably attempts to chronicle her contribution to literature is nearly unreadable.

Author Greg Lawrence was one
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Victoria
Jun 12, 2014 Victoria rated it it was ok
It bothers me to give this book such a low rating, I’ve had a fascination with Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis for as long as I can remember. It’s not the adulation of those that pine for Camelot—JFK does not hold a place of honor in my heart—it has always been about Jackie. Charismatic, enigmatic, of the people, but also not one of us. After reading numerous biographies over the years, I was still intrigued by her time as an editor. It just seems a codicil to the story of her life and yet, ...more
Amy
May 21, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
We've seen many "faces" of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, but we've never seen her in the one role she seems to have been born to play ... that of Book Editor.

I wasn't really sure what I was getting into when I started this and although this can be a little tedious, especially when Lawrence is talking about all of Jackie's editorial critiques, this is still an amazing story of Jackie's introduction to and subsequent mastery of book editing.

Jackie began her work at Viking and moved to Double
...more
Lisa
Sep 23, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
High praise for a biography that made me with I had known and worked with Mrs. Onassis. While I was not much interested in Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (JKO) as a celebrity, I am, as an editor, very much interested in her editorial process and her position as an editor with two large New York publishers. She was, apparently, a cracker-jack editor who took care of her writers and really helped them improve their books. She also advocated for well-made books with beautiful designs, and I wished that ...more
Janet
Jul 09, 2011 Janet rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
If you love to read, then you must read this book about Mrs. Onasis. (I cringed when the author reported that secretaries that worked with her felt comfortable in calling her by her first name. Therefore, I will not casually call her Jackie in my review.) Before reading this book, I lamented about the lack of quality in the books that I have been reading as of late. If I follow Mrs. Onasis' edited book list; her edited books have been rated by others in Good Reads as 4 stars and above. It was ...more
Bruno Alves
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, em um contexto norte-americano e internacional, é um nome de peso. Ex-primeira-dama, testemunha de uma tragédia e viúva de dois maridos, a biografada de Jackie editora tem como episódio menos conhecido (e provavelmente mais longo) da sua vida na carreira editorial que cultivou pelos últimos dezenove anos de sua vida. Este livro, lançado este ano pela Record, busca abordar justamente esta parte menos conhecida de JKO. Conhecida mundialmente pelo seu papel de viúva, por ...more
Kate
Apr 09, 2012 Kate added it
Shelves: 2012
Did you know Jackie O published Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe? Interesting stuff. Like most publishing memoirs, filled with stories of how certain books were acquired and edited. When you look over the list of books Jackie edited, there are a few classics (Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy) and a lot of stuff that is likely out of print and forgotten by most people. Again, like most publishing memoirs.

Interesting to read about an editor whose career was a mix of privilege and the usual c
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Bookreaderljh
Apr 17, 2016 Bookreaderljh rated it it was ok
It took me close to two weeks to read this book - but a lot of that had to do with how busy I have been. Still some of it was because this book is dense with a lot of names and different books and it jumps around within chapters and for acquaintances which was disconcerting. The good thing about the book, though, was how it showed Jackie Kennedy as a very intelligent, well read, very well qualified editor with a passion for getting authors and books recognized even if they weren't necessarily ...more
Catherine
Jun 14, 2011 Catherine rated it liked it
The irony is that the writer could have used a good editor for this book. His research, interviews, and chronology are impressive, but could have been grouped into bigger themes and ideas. There is a larger picture here which flickers dimly. Nonetheless, this biography, which covers Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' years as an editor at Viking and then at Doubleday, is a delightful, almost gossipy read. What comes through clearly is her absolute obsessive love of reading and learning, which I ...more
Sara
Jan 22, 2012 Sara rated it it was ok
Parts of Lawrence's book are interesting. Unfortunately, Lawrence is constrained in his storytelling by a dogged adherence to a linear timeline: "First, Jackie worked with this author on this book and here is an anecdote about her from that author. Here is a second author," and so on. Through EVERY book she edited during her 22 years in publishing. Jackie edited a book on George Balanchine, written by Francis Mason. She insists he cut the manuscript (originally 650,000 words) by 200,000 words. ...more
Christine Frank
Feb 26, 2011 Christine Frank rated it liked it
Halfway through. I admire the research and the waaaaaay meticulous interviewing and recounting. Nice too, to have a book with no or little well-worn Kennedy gossip. As an editor, I am enjoying Jackie's crafty editorial comments and handling of her authors. The only "but" is . . . the books she worked on are all just so trivial and elitist, so, so COFFEE TABLE. . . Tiffany's . . . Versailles . . .Madame de This 'n That . . ballet . . .yawn . . . . I DO love Jackie's opinion of her "author" ...more
Thebruce1314
Jul 10, 2016 Thebruce1314 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure what I was expecting here - a cohesive narrative; some added depth to the Jackie myth, perhaps - but what I got was disappointing. This book reads like an annotated catalogue of the books Jackie edited throughout her nineteen year career. While I'm certain that her books are of the highest quality, a book about how those books came to be is not the most enthralling read.
There were a few personal anecdotes which redeemed the book slightly, and a list of Jackie's contributions which
...more
Kevin Graves
Sep 09, 2011 Kevin Graves rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are two books out about JBKO's time as editor. This is the ONE to read, She edited many books at Viking and Doubleday, but only two even mentioned her name as editor, at her directive. She brought a lot of talent to light, and she was a thorough and proper editor. She was editing from home until a week before her 1994 death. The authors she edited all agreed her editing made their books, although some didn't admit it until years later. Interesting backstory of the publishing world of ...more
False Millennium
Mar 15, 2011 False Millennium rated it liked it
Rich lady needs work. She interviews at Le Cirque or Le Grenouille or some such. She works part-time. She takes off the summer so she can reside at Martha's Vineyard. Why don't I ever see this job opening?

I was also reading "Reading Jackie" at the same time. Both more or less cover the same ground. How the books she edited formed from her own tastes (I agree.) She apparently endeared herself to her authors and had their respect.

She handled being under a microscope well. Many could learn from he
...more
Elizabeth
Jun 09, 2013 Elizabeth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As a book-lover, I loved this concept of biography by studying the books Jackie edited. While I came away with a new perception of the fashionable First Lady, I don't recommend this book unless you are undertaking a dissertation on Jackie as an editor. It went through EVERY single book she had a part in publishing in chronological order. Much of the publications could have been covered in a broad theme instead.
Gabrielle
Jun 15, 2012 Gabrielle rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. A few long spots where Greg is just name-dropping. Most of it is worth the read. Liked knowing that Mrs. O was a real person, not the cold, hard icon the media made her out to be. I read the Cairo Trilogy (hard cover!!) a few years ago; one of the only reasons I finished that tome was because the editing was excellent. I am going to go through the bibliography in this book and find other books that Jackie worked on. They will be worth the time.
Joycew
Apr 28, 2011 Joycew rated it liked it
This title and the earlier one I read, "Reading Jackie" by William Kuhn explore Jackie's wide range of interests and knowledge as she went about selecting subjects and authors during her 20 year career as an editor. Both of these books list the titles she was either dirctly or indirectly involved with. I found many titles to add to my reading list. Anyone interested in Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis will want to browse/read these two books.
Laura Riddle
Sep 13, 2015 Laura Riddle rated it liked it
Started out okay, but got tedious. Too much background on the authors she edited. I would've been okay with just what she did as an editor without the extra "stuff." Also, interview commentary was presented "as is", like literal transcriptions, making them somewhat hard to follow. I was just ready to be done with it!
Amy Cohen
Feb 25, 2014 Amy Cohen rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating peek into the editorial career of Jackie O. It is wonderful that she cold parlay her lifelong love of literature into a career after the death of her last husband, thereby making her own name for herself. The book features detailed interviews with many former co-workers and authors whose books she edited. An excellent read!
Jennifer Nanek
Jun 15, 2015 Jennifer Nanek rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed this book as it tells a portion of Jackie's life I hadn't heard before. I've read biographies of her before but this part was brushed over. Am glad she had this time in her life. Loved hearing her love of books, and am sorry some of those she edited are now unavailable. Its silly but when she dies at the end, it was like it happened all over again.
Becky Kriz
Dec 29, 2014 Becky Kriz rated it really liked it
A wonderful look inside what was probably the most productive period in Jacqueline's history. Her career in books was long and comprehensive, and this book includes a wealth of information of the events that transpired in the last two decades of her life.
Amy
Sep 08, 2014 Amy rated it did not like it
I was so excited to read this book. I wanted to go into the publishing industry because of Jackie (via Elaine in Seinfeld). It's such a shame that the two books that have been written about Jackie's life as an editor are so poorly written.
Sue
Jun 21, 2011 Sue rated it it was ok
I so admire Jackie. That said, this book was more about what she brought to the business of editing. Not so interesting. The book could have been a much much shorter book. I know this was trying to show a different side to Jackie that the public really never saw, but just not all that interesting.
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