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Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House
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Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,462 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
In GRACE & POWER: THE PRIVATE WORLD OF THE KENNEDY WHITE HOUSE, New York Times bestselling author Sally Bedell Smith takes us inside the Kennedy White House with unparalleled access and insight. Having interviewed scores of Kennedy intimates, including many who have never spoken before, and drawing on letters and personal papers made available for the first time, Smith ...more
Paperback, 640 pages
Published May 10th 2005 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2004)
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Having finished this book a short time ago, I feel as if I've been put through the wringer emotionally. The lives of President Kennedy and the First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy seem to be the stuff of which epic novels and poems are made. Yet, they were very real people faced with many difficult challenges and tragedies. By her own admission, Jackie Kennedy once confided to a close friend that life without JFK would have "all been a wasteland, and I would have known it every step of the way."

The boo
I've always had a thing for the Kennedys. I was a huge assassination buff in my teens and whilst I've grown out of that I'm still fascinated by the image of glamour and youth and excitement that they projected. I think America lost something the day JFK was assassinated and they've not got it back yet. But anyway, I digress. This is very good book, nothing earth-shattering or ground-breaking, but it focuses much more on Jack and Jackie's private life, their relationships with their friends, fami ...more
Crystal Hammon
When John F. Kennedy was assassinated, I was three years old—too young to really remember the tragedy or study his legacy in school, too old to be ignorant of the influence he and his wife had on Americans. Grace and Power reveals how history intersected with the couple’s relationship to a coterie of intellectuals, policy makers, family, friends and each other. If you enjoy history and biographies and like having a book on your nightstand that is easily sandwiched between other books you’re read ...more
Jun 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Never have I read so strong and thorough a biography of the Kennedys as the one Bedell-Smith put forth in this book. Not only does it touch on the key aspects of the presidency (the numerous women, Cuban Missile Crisis, and assassination), but it also delves into the lives of the POTUS and FLOTUS and their rocky marriage. She takes many interviews and spins them into strong stories, tied together with excellent narration.

So strong a book yet filled with the good and bad of the Kennedys, it leave
Joseph J.
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in the Kennedys, in White House history, and in mid 20th. century politics
This is one reason why I look forward to Sally Bedell Smith's new book on Prince Charles. I really enjoyed her book on the Kennedys in the White House. This is a subject too often exploited and sensationalized. Smith's book is honest and cites faults where they exist and the admirable when they triumph. Much was packed into the 1000 days in the White House. This is a clear, well written and truly balanced account of two remarkable lives in a brief period of history-which we still feel today.
Apr 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well researched and interesting account of the Kennedy Administration. It also deals a lot with the complex relationship between Jackie and JFK. I would recommend it for anyone wanting an intimate glimpse into the Kennedy years. Just be prepared to know the end, but it still gets you. The author spares no detail in describing the death of JFK and it breaks your heart all over again.
David Elliott
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I knew Jack was a ladies man, but I had no idea to this extent. Still considered him a very good president. Very impressed with Jackie also. Quite a lady.
Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gave me a new admiration particularly for Jacqueline Kennedy and what she accomplished in restoring some of the grandeur and history to the White House rooms - and at such a young age.
Hank Pharis
Okay. Not that much new if you know the Kennedy's story. Says that Joseph Kennedy lied about what happened to Rosemary. Does reveal yet more about JFK's apparent sex addiction and says that he had a venereal disease.

(Note: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book. 3 = Very good; 4 = Outstanding {only about 5% of the books I read merit this}; 5 = All time favorites {one of these may come along every 400-500 books})
Eva Shillair
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author did a splendid job in capturing their lives, interactions with each other, as well as with the white house staffs, the president's cabinet, family friends, and their children. The more you read the more you get to know JFK and Jackie as their own person and marvel at the strength and grace that Jackie had shown throughout their marriage.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's like walking around with the Kennedys as they go through the White House years. I've read one other book by this author and they've both been such detailed accounts but told in a way that you want to just keep on reading.
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was interesting and an eye opener. But the political talk makes it drag. It took me longer than usual to finish. Still a good read.
Sheri Johnson
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good but very long. Glad I stuck with it. I read this during the summer when my dad was very sick and I can remember reading parts to him. 😍
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: john-f-kennedy
Well this book is certainly taking me a while to finish. I was surprised at the amount of little details in this book that I did not know about. For example, I remember something about the size of shoe Jackie wore. Also it was amazing to see Jackie's detailed oriented character and impeccable taste throughout the book. In addition, you also saw the private side of Jackie meaning how she would pick and choose the different events that she attended or did not attend during her tenure in the White ...more
Buck Jones
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book - I think it was an honest recounting of what JFK and Jackie were like during their time together in the White House.

The author portrayed Jackie as a complex figure - brilliant, moody, cultured, pampered, driven, and lazy - all wrapped up into this branded image we now know as "Jacqueline Kennedy". It was amazing how little time she actually spent in the White House doing First Lady type of events and functions. And yet, we still associate her as the quintessential icon
Bookmarks Magazine

Vanity Fair contributing editor Smith has written a glossy, gossipy, but serious account of the Kennedys' White House Years. If you're looking for analysis of the Bay of Pigs or Cuban missile crisis, turn to one of the other thousand Kennedy books (see below). Grace and Power, a social history of the Camelot couple, contains just enough political asides to interest history buffs. But Smith, a consummate researcher and reporter, focuses mainly on minutiae, from Jackie's Cassini-designed wardrobe

Jul 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
All the well-known incidents of Kennedy's 1000 Days are here, but I don't think you'll find anything substantial you didn't know about The Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missle Crisis, Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, etc. What makes this book special are the highly credible anecdotes about the President and First Lady, the little things that make them come to life. I enjoyed reading about President Kennedy's complicated relationship with Adlai Stevenson and his fascination with the men women found attractive, ...more
Jul 05, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A trifling, gossipy gabfest with sporadic episodes of political/historical reportage. Given the Kennedys' reputation for regality, I wasn't surprised at the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous shtick, but I was disappointed that this more superficial aspect wasn't connected in any meaningful way to what little historical narrative there was. I learned some things (precious few, given the bulk of the book) that I didn't know (details of JFK's several affairs and physical ailments), but the new info ...more
This was a Christmas gift from Sean, which is sort of funny to me. I'm not a huge Kennedy fan/freak and he said he more wanted to buy me a gossipy book than a Kennedy book.

Anyway. It's a social history of their White House and it's been kind of fun to read it with all the Obama transition. The chapters on Kennedy's affairs and his professional/personal attitudes towards women sort of make me hate him.

I'm about halfway through and have been picking it up here and there--little pieces of sugary g
Diane Heath
May 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This was an interesting look at the Kennedy White House Years. (1960-1963). It does not go overboard in gossip/tabloid type coverage but it does tend toward that direction. More is made of JFK's pursuit of other women than of his political legacy. The "inner circle" is identified/defined and there is a wrap up epilogue which tells of their fates after the White House years. The author comments that many were "speaking for the record" and one person is quoted as saying that many people claim that ...more
Tracy Hackney
This book was interesting at times, but not really well written. It seemed a little bit like I was reading a gossip magazine rather than history. The emphasis in this book is on the relationship between JFK and Jackie, which I enjoyed to a certain extent; however, I would have enjoyed more details on some of the historic events that took place during JFK's presidency such as the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis,etc. These things are mentioned and some information is given concerning them, b ...more
Dec 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was amazed at the intelligence, sensitivity and melancholy of Jacdqueline, and at the social whirlwind they both could maintain every day. Jack was a womanizer (and every woman is mentioned), but he apparently was good at compartmentalizing and definitely adored his wife. Meanwhile the power of his position, and the power he held over the press will never be repeated. The gruesome assassination left the whole world grieving, and the imprint they both made on the White House and their unique st ...more
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some great insights into Jackie's life as First Lady. Also provided quite a contrast with the way the First Family now lives...with so little privacy and so many official duties that a private life is almost non-existent.

I remember hearing that Jackie told Hillary that if she didn't raise Chelsea right the rest of it wouldn't matter. I think Hillary probably passed that advice on to Michelle Obama. Much harder to do now...than it was then when Jackie set up a proper school in the WH for Carolin
Jul 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't researched the politics of the author, and I believe while this was largely meant to be a positive spin on JFK's time in the white house, it left with with a strong impression that JFK was not a good man morally, and was a pretty poor president. The analysis was thorough, though at times a few sections felt like a tabloid. I don't believe my historical training as a child really taught me accurately about the Kennedy administration.
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I FINALLY finished this book-nearly one year after I started it. I really enjoyed it. I bought this after I finished watching the Kennedy Miniseries. I picked this one because it included the right balance of history and the family/social dynamic of the White House. Let's be honest-I really liked the parts that read like a soap opera. If you are looking for more history-this is not for you.
Nov 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: stopped-reading
Some of the stories/facts were interesting -- especially the origin of the Arthurian myth comparison to the Kennedys in the White House. However, much of later chapters felt like gossip. So much of the information and one-liners felt like name-dropping, or showing off the number of sources garnered for this book. There was little flow because of the multiple references made on every page. I stopped reading it after five chapters. Disappointed.
Michelle Krasovich
This book was amazing. It brings fresh insight into the complex relationship between Jack and Jacqueline during their years in the White House. From the memories and stories relayed in the pages of this book it is easy to understand how this couple mesmerized a nation and captivated the imaginations of an international audience.
Dec 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in the Kennedys
Shelves: books-i-own
I really liked this book. It didn't focus on the Marilyn Monroe aspect of the marriage as much as it could have and probably should have. The book solely focused on the White House years. I learned a lot about them and their personalities. The book mentioned a few books they read, so now I want to go find them. Overall, a good read.
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, pld
I thought this book was well written, and did not pull any punches. It dealt with all of JFK and Jackies' foibles very honestly. I saw a side of the Kennedy family in general that I had never really seen before. I heartily recommend this book to all people interested in JFK's brief Presidential career.
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its really good for a book to go into detail about a presidential administration and also to tell about the President and the First Lady.
Even though I have read a lot of books about the Kennedy family, especially in particular JFK, I have found that this book had included some information that I have not known about him and/or the family.
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Author of six biographies: Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch (Random House 2102); For Love of Politics: Bill and Hillary Clinton: The White House Years (Random House 2007); Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House (Random House 2004); Diana In Search of Herself: Portrait of a Troubled Princess (Random House 2004); Reflected Glory: The Life of Pamela Churchill H ...more
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“After American titan and presidential father Joseph P. Kennedy suffered a stroke that impacted one side of his body, guests pretended not to notice the impact. Jackie Kennedy, however, held the impacted hand and kissed the affected side of his face, facing his disability and giving him the courage to do so.” 2 likes
“Asked to explain how he became a war hero he (Kennedy) responded, "It was involuntary. They think my boat.” 0 likes
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