Monday, January 13, 2014

"These Few Precious Days" by Christopher Andersen (2013)

I picked this book up with no intention of reading it all the way through, let alone review it. It seemed as if it would be the gossipy type of “beach book” you take on vacation and don’t expect much of. I love being wrong.

In this carefully annotated and indexed book, the author has penned a comprehensive look at one of the most fascinating power couples ever. This is the story of the marriage of President and Mrs. Kennedy during the 1,000 days that they inhabited the White House, as well as the world stage. It is a fascinating story because it is so well documented and it accurately reflects the attitudes of the early 1960’s.

Relying on the memories of those who were closest to the couple; a range which spans everyone from the President’s sisters to the White House Staff; the author covers just about every base there is in telling the story of the Presidents numerous affairs, as well as his respect for his wife. If that seems odd; as it does to me; then reading this book will expose you to the jet set world of the 1960’s when everybody, it seems, was pushing the boundaries of the ordinary, and accepted, social mores.

The fact that the President had his hands full with one world crisis after another during this period, did little to slow down his Lothario like appetite for women; any women; anywhere; anytime. This appetite was always present, even before he became President, but was exacerbated by his use of powerful steroids and painkillers, mixed with amphetamines. Dr. Jacobson, known to millions as Dr. Feelgood, was logging more air miles that Hillary Clinton as he traveled back and forth from New York to Washington, California, Florida and even accompanying the President on his first foreign summit with Khrushchev in 1961.

But more than anything else, this book is the portrait of a woman coming to terms with a world she did not much like, yet came to command. From her efforts to restore the White House to her last years as an editor, this woman was as close to a Queen as America has ever had. Surprisingly, this was a fascinating book to read.

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