From the New York Times bestselling author of American Legacy, RFK, and A Woman Named Jackie, an in-depth look at the much talked-about -- but never fully revealed -- relationship between Jackie Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy
Few writers have immersed themselves in the world of the Kennedys as completely or successfully as C. David Heymann, whose biographies of Jackie, Robert, John F. Kennedy Jr., and Caroline together have sold millions of copies and have shed light on the private lives of the most prominent members of this iconic American family. Now he draws on more than two decades' worth of personal interviews, as well as previously unavailable reports and briefs from the Secret Service and the FBI, to create a complete picture of the complex relationship that existed between two of the most heralded figures of the twentieth century.
Americans have long been fascinated by the rumored love affair between Jackie Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy. With Bobby and Jackie they will finally get more than a glimpse of their emotional and romantic connection. An open secret for decades among family insiders, their affair began as a result of their shared grief over the assassination of the president in 1963 and lasted until Bobby began his run for the Demo-cratic presidential nomination in 1968.
Readers will gain behind-closed-doors access to Bobby and Jackie's liaison, from late-night trysts at Jackie's Fifth Avenue apartment to fervent embraces at the Kennedy estate in Palm Beach. They will also learn more about the deep friendship that grew out of the couple's shared tragedies, their family loyalty, and their overflowing ambition.
It was "perhaps the most normal relationship either one ever had," Truman Capote observed. "In retrospect, it seems hard to believe that it happened, but it did." Poignant, illuminating, and enormously entertaining, Bobby and Jackie is a glorious account of a legendary romance.
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July 12, 2009
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Excerpt from Bobby and Jackie by C. David Heymann
I first heard hints and whispers of a romantic involvement between Robert and Jacqueline Kennedy while res earching and conducting interviews for A Woman Named Jackie, my 1989 biography ofthe former First Lady. Because Jackie was still very much alive at the time, it is easy to understand why interviewees were reluctant to discuss the romance in great depth or detail. Following Jacqueline's death in 1994 -- and after I had begun work on RFK, my 1998 biography of Robert Kennedy -- interview subjects, old and new, were suddenly much more eager to explore the topic. Thereafter nearly every biography of Bobby or Jackie, including volumes by Edward Klein, Christopher Andersen, Sarah Bradford, and Peter Evans, capitalized on my research and reported on the Bobby-Jackie affair, in certain instances adding new details to those already known.
After the publication of RFK, I continued to probe the subject, collecting further material and information. I was aided in part by the release in 2007 of a set of previously unavailable reports and briefs prepared by the Secret Service and the FBI, released to me under the Freedom of Information Act. Covering the years 1964 to 1968, when the liaison took place, these documents confirmed what I had already ascertained by way of personal interviews. I was thus able to piece together a complete picture of the complex relationship that existed between two of the most heralded figures of the twentieth century.
Too often in earlier biographies, Robert Kennedy was depicted as something of a choirboy when, in fact, he enjoyed the same proclivity for extramarital affairs as his brothers, Jack and Ted Kennedy. Insiders, among them Ted Kennedy as well as his sisters, were evidently well aware of the circumstances. Given Bobby's and Jackie's shared grief over the 1963 assassination of Jack Kennedy, it is not difficult to imagine how such an unlikely union could begin. The relationship grew and continued on its own, ending not because of lack or loss of affection but out of pure practical necessity when RFK decided to run for president in 1968. It is also clear, in the confusing days following Bobby's death, why Jackie turned to Aristotle Onassis for solace, agreeing to marry him and to leave the United States and raise her children abroad.
Despite the conclusive accounts of those insiders quoted in this volume, I don't doubt for a moment that some readers will remain skeptical that a romance actually took place. In the course of writing four books on the Kennedys, I have come across individuals who still deny the rampant womanizing of JFK, both before and after he became president. It took The New York Times, often cited as our most authoritative newspaper, some thirty years to admit in print that Jack Kennedy had numerous affairs outside his marriage. With all this purported womanizing, the doubters ask, how is it possible that JFK still had time to run the country? A somewhat related query might be posed regarding Bobby and Jackie. If such an affair took place, how is it conceivable that they managed to keep it out of the public eye? The answer to the first question is that President Kennedy compartmentalized his life to such an extent that he was able to preside over the nation while at the same time pursuing a hyperactive social schedule. The answer to the second question is that in the 1960s, the private lives of public figures were simply not covered by the media, certainly not to the extent that they are today when even the slightest impropriety, sexual or otherwise, gets reported, probed, and reported again.
Certain readers may also wonder or ask if it is even necessary to divulge the inner (or private) lives of biographical figures such as Robert and Jacqueline Kennedy. As a biographer, it has always been my conviction that sexual (or personal) behavior is integral to a fuller understanding of a person's life, particularly in the case of a public personality. Knowing that Robert and Jackie Kennedy became romantically involved following JFK's death -- and for reasons that this volume attempts to reveal -- sheds a whole new light on who they were and what made them tick. It demonstrates, among other things, that they were motivated by many of the same temptations and emotions that drive the rest of us. It helps us gain a fuller comprehension not only of them but also of ourselves.
Copyright (c) 2009 by C. David Heymann