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Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  738 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis never wrote a memoir, but she told her life story and revealed herself in intimate ways through the nearly 100 books she brought into print during the last two decades of her life as an editor at Viking and Doubleday. Based on archives and interviews with Jackie's authors, colleagues, and friends, Reading Jackie mines this significant period of h ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published December 7th 2010 by Nan A. Talese
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Jan 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
If the entire book were like the first six chapters, I would have given it 5 stars--but that's almost half the book, so let's call it 4 1/2 stars. The early chapters are a book-lover's dream--insights into the reading, writing, and life choices of an intelligent, fascinating woman who spent so much of her life overshadowed by her two famous husbands and the American tragedy that was the assassination of JFK, as well as the mythology that others created around her. But she made her own life as an ...more
Mary Hackett
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
As a fan of all things Jackie--this biography in books did not disappoint. As a writer, editor, wife, mother, and fan of reading, I found the iconic woman surprisingly relatable. I would have loved to have had one--just one--editor's lunch with her. Her famous line as an editor is: "I want to be the type of editor you want me to be." She took great risks and did her best to serve her authors and their creativity. I learned so much about books, editing, and Jackie! Highly recommend.
Dec 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Jackie was a deeply introspective, shy women who hid herself away in books, as many of us do. I did not read any of the biographies of Jackie that came out over the years. I did read the well received biography of John Kennedy, "An Unfinished Life", by Robert Dallek. Dallek is a highly respected historian and Professor. I always respected the dignity of Jackie and her family and the remarkable inner strength she displayed over the years. I was repulsed by the way she was treated in the media, wi ...more
Joy H.
Added 2/8/11.
RE: _Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books_ (2010) by William Kuhn


In 2011, I read a sampling of this book via Google eBooks. Jackie Kennedy, in her later years, worked in publishing as an editor at Viking and then as an assistant editor at Doubleday. The book gives an interesting insight into that world.

In the prologue, Kuhn writes that Jackie's son, John, "said that one of his mother’s essential char
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
janet Burke
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An excellent biography that focusses on Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' life after her marriages, as a working woman editing books, first for Viking Press and then for Doubleday. I couldn't really figure out how a biography would come out of this period of her life based upon the books she edited, but amazingly the author gives a lot of insight into Jackie Kennedy's character, values, taste and even her attitudes about JFK, etc.. Much information and insight is gleaned from the books she chose to pr ...more
Verna Seal
Gift from Katrina for Christmas - so far really really good! I enjoyed this book a lot and now have a very long list of books to read that I have to get in here! THANK YOU KATRINA!
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author endeavors to learn more about the elusive Jackie Kennedy through examining the books she took on as an editor at Viking and Doubleday. It was interesting to see which books she took on, which she fought for and which didn't interest her much. Most of the authors who worked with her found her to be a very good, sometimes exacting, editor. She told one author "I want to be the editor you want me to be."
Jan 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is a captivating and iconic figure which makes her a great subject for a book. Known mainly for her role as wife to the powerful (JFK) and rich (Onassis) it's refreshing to read about her later life as an independent woman who supported herself by working as an editor. It's always a plus when a book gives you new ideas for reading possibilities and Kuhn's Reading Jackie added at least a page of Jackie-edited volumes to my Amazon wish list. A further bonus of this caree ...more
Dec 10, 2010 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Jackie O spent the last twenty years or so of her life as an editor at Viking and Doubleday, and prior to that, she was an avid reader. Kuhn explores Jackie's relationship to her own writing, the books she loved, and the books she published, as a means of getting to know the press-shy icon.

What I loved:
* I learned a lot about Jackie. I don't even think I knew that she had the long career as an editor. I only knew her as the stylish widow of Power and later Money.

* The ode to books. Like any avid
Jan 25, 2015 rated it liked it
People have wondered for decades what Jackie felt about JFK's affair with Marilyn, about her real relationship with Ari, considering his reputed ill-treatment of her. Jackie never, of course, addressed these subjects publicly nor did any of her confidants. "Reading Jackie" tries to answer those questions by examining her choices as an editor. Yet the book itself notes there were books she was assigned (Michael Jackson's autobiography) that she really didn't want to edit.

There were some interesti
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: presidents
I think I am the perfect reader for this book because of my interest in presidential history and in books about the act of reading. I've read many books about the Kennedys but I hadn't realized Jacqueline Kennedy was such a reader. I didn't know much about her later career as an editor or that she'd been selected for a prestigious magazine internship as a young woman. Though I already admired her as a First Lady, I'm glad to have learned so much more about her. It makes me sad that she wasn't ab ...more
Feb 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Well-written and certainly interesting if only for the revelation of the intelligence and strength of a woman that the whole world has seen only as the picture of grace and grief. It's an interesting way to look at an icon - through the books she acquired and edited - but undoubtedly books, those we own, read, edit, write in the margins of, do say something about us, and Kuhn does a formidable job of showing what Jackie's books said about her. A certain level of awe is removed from the distant J ...more
Oct 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
This is a library book, and I'm very glad I didn't buy it. I'm about a quarter of the way through it and just not enamoured; frankly, I don't know that I'll bother to finish it.

The premise of the book is good. Unfortunately, I just don't find it to be very well-written. Something about the writing style reminds me of something I might have written in high school. Many of his conclusions seems to be pretty broad and far-fetched. As an example: he claims that Jackie was interested in the occult,
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a great glimpse into the later years of Jackie's life. Despite her iconic status very little is actually known about Jackie's personal life and how she felt about her celebrity. Accordingly, this book makes some leaps of faith in interpreting the projects she worked on professionally. Some hit the mark, others seem a bit far fetched, but overall it's a very interesting concept.
It's also inspiring to think of the many ways in which Jackie reinvented herself over the course of her life.
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Always had an interest in reading more about Jacqueline Kennedy's career as an editor at two of New York's prestigious publishing houses. Pat Conroy's My Reading Life also on my list of "to read".

This book was a revelation to me about Jackie's stunning success as an editor with two Doubleday. She Having edited 100 books over last 20 years of her life, some of which were major bestsellers, the book also examines her abhorrance of the jet-setting lifestyle. More often than not, she would disappear
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookgroup
Hard to review. Fascinating information and insight into her and also into the world in her lifetime. I particularly liked the aspects,that showed how she reinvented herself and, how she was, in many ways, exemplified the changes brought on by the women's lib movement.

I had problems with the structure of the book. I'm still not sure what the organizing principle was. Seems like that may be a result of having too much material.

Still, just learning how many interesting books she edited and suppor
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I was surprised that I liked this take on the subject (Jacqueline Onassis as editor) better than than the other book (“Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis," by Greg Lawrence). Kuhn sort of eviscerates Lawrence, and it was an "ah-hah" moment to realize that Gelsey Kirkland's Lawrence is the same man. The Lawrence book is more pretentious; this book is just a good gossip, although I will never believe that Onassis really loved "Wide Sargasso Sea," which is just a mise ...more
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jackie Kennedy Onassis was well known to be a very private person. The premise of this book is that the books she edited & brought into print during her time of working at Viking & Doubleday reveals her tastes & passions. One can "get to know who she was" using this method. As a person who is always interested in what one is reading & checking out people's personal libraries this book was "right up my alley" so to speak. I enjoyed this very interesting book.
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was very enlightening; I learned a lot about this fascinating woman that I don't think I would have known if I had not read it. This being said, I found the writing a bit formulaic and the same points being reiterated many times over. Sometimes the author included information that didn't seem relevant, bits of story that were haphazardly thrown in and were never expanded upon. Despite these shortcomings, however, I was captivated to meet a Jackie beyond Camelot.
R.S. Lentin
Sep 22, 2011 is currently reading it
Icon in my eyes, Jackie Kennedy, is portrayed through the books that she published over the course of her editorial career. When I had the opportunity to take a class in the offices of Random House, luck was with me when the instructor (who worked with Jackie at Doubleday!) gave me a copy of the book. Needless to say, I’m enjoying the picture of Jackie that Kuhn paints during the time of her life when she guarded her privacy, yet through her work was most revealed.
Jul 20, 2012 rated it liked it
This was a very different way to learn about a famous individual and more fascinating than a straight-forward historical accounting. You learn more about the authors of the books Jackie edited, too, an added bonus. Got a little tedious and I returned it to the library without reading a few of the chapters.
Jenny Mehlow
Sep 15, 2011 rated it liked it
I didn't finish this book before my e-loan on my e-book ran out. I found it interesting but a bit repetitive at times - "if you want to know Jackie, just read the books she edited" but have been written about 100 different ways in the parts that I did read. But you did feel like you knew her a bit more after seeing what she did with her career as a book editor.
Feb 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
It's interesting to learn about Jacqueline Onassis's career in the publishing world and to see how this work was fulfilling to her, as well as helpful to a number of authors. The author did too much speculating on how certain books reflected Jackie's thinking and inner life, but without the speculation I don't know how much of a book he would have had.
You won't see this many stars often, but this book certainly deserves them. I really recommend that all of my Goodreads friends read this wonderful book. What a great idea for a book and certainly one of the most literate books I have ever read. A real Good-Read (couldn't resist that!)
May 22, 2012 rated it really liked it

I loved this. It was a fair portrayal of a lady who has been criticised and lauded in equal measures. It didn't focus on her time as the wife of Kennedy or Onassis, but on her successes as an editor with Doubleday in New York. Fascinating!
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Not incredibly well written and the author was a little too fawning but the subject matter was fascinating, ie what Jackie's list of books she published as an editor revealed about her character, apart from her two famous husbands.
Feb 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
I tried, but just couldn't get into this. I ended up kind of skimming areas. I did find the section that describes Jackie's relationship with Princess Grace [Kelly] particularly interesting.
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
I did really enjoy this book. I guess the part that took me by surprise, was when a friend's name was part of the book!
Oct 01, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a different picture of Jackie and gives a good understanding of her & the life she had. Whether you admired her or not, her place in history is assured. I found it interesting.
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I'm a novelist, biographer, historian, scribbler, and dabbler. I've helped to make commercials on chocolate chip cookies. I've also taught history to college students and led dazed kids on London theatre trips. Somehow my first novel MRS QUEEN became a national bestseller. It has been optioned by The Weinstein Company for a movie. A second novel PRINCE HARRY BOY TO MAN has just been published. It ...more
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