All too human : the love story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy /
Edward Klein.
New York, N.Y. : Pocket Books, 1996.
406 p. : ill.
More Details
New York, N.Y. : Pocket Books, 1996.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references.
A Look Inside
First Chapter

ò It's All in the Breeding

ò Sex 101

ò Matchmaking in Georgetown

ò Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend

ò Dr. Feelgood

ò In Sickness and in Health

ò Material Girl

ò And Everything's Nice

ò Joy of Sex

ò The Sexiest Man Alive!

ò A Death Foretold

ò Nov '63

ò Legacy

ò Surprising Facts About Camelot

It's All in the Breeding

From the stable door, Herman Butler, the groom, watched as Jackie signaled Sagebrush, and the large gray Anglo-Arab mare leapt over a stone wall. Horse and rider seemed to hang in midair for a breathtaking moment before landing on the other side without breaking stride. Sagebrush let out a grunt, and her flanks quivered with excitement. Jackie urged her on, and they sped across a broad green pasture in one final breakneck gallop.

Jackie dismounted and handed off her sweat-slick horse to Butler. They chatted about her morning ride while she petted Butler's dog, a tricolor collie named Fuddy II. Since childhood, Jackie had been schooled in dressage- the art of guiding a horse with barely perceptible movements of hands, legs, and body weight- and she never tired of talking about horsemanship. She loved riding because it required discipline and physical courage and, perhaps most important of all, because it satisfied something deep in her aesthetic nature. Properly mounted on a fine horse, a woman always looked her best. (p. 15-16)

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Sex 101

Jack's sexual education started at an early age. When he was 12 years old, his father brought home his mistress, Gloria Swanson, the most glamorous movie star of the day. At the time, Rose Kennedy was away from Hyannis Port on one of her frequent shopping trips in Paris, and Joe and Gloria went for a sail on his yacht, which was named the Rose Elizabeth after his wife.

Young Jack stowed away below deck. When he peeked up and saw his father making love to Gloria Swanson, the bewildered young boy panicked and jumped into the sea. His father had to dive in and save him.

As Jack grew older, his father continued to tutor him in sexual matters in equally unconventional ways. On one occasion, when Jack came home from Choate, he found his bed covered with pornographic magazines that his father had left for his inspection.

"I think it's Dad's idea of a joke," Jack commented.

Later, Joe Kennedy would amuse his son by describing in clinical detail his sexual conquests of showgirls and other floozies. He offered to share his girls with his son and expected his son to reciprocate. (p. 91)

* * *

Jackie fell head over heels for Jack Marquand. A hint of how she felt was contained in a letter she sent to her stepbrother Yusha.

"I sort of feel you are miserably in love," she wrote, "and I know just how you feel."

Jackie and Jack Marquand went everywhere together in Paris. They ate at Chez Allard and La Grenouille, two little bistros on the Left Bank. They spent evenings at L'Elephant Blanc, where Jackie chain-smoked aromatic French cigarettes, drank grasshoppers-a cocktail consisting of creme de menthe, creme de cacao, and cream- and listened to Jack talk about his novel in progress, The Second Happiest Day , which he was writing under the pseudonym John Phillips. Everyone got very drunk. Arkadi Gerney, who was 6'2" and spoke half a dozen languages, tore off his shirt and danced bare chested to "Bongo, Bongo, Bongo."

In the hours before dawn, Jackie and Jack Marquand strolled along the banks of the Seine, past young couples making love in the shadows. They often ended up at Marquand's apartment on the Left Bank.

They made love in the fashion of the day, groping and fumbling and going almost all the way. It left Marquand, as the American saying went, "with blue balls." It left Jackie, as the French put it with more delicacy, une demi-vierge , a half-virgin.

Then one night, after a few too many grasshoppers, as they were going up to Marquand's apartment on the slow, creaky French elevator, Jackie let herself get carried away. She was in Marquand's arms, her skirt bunched above her hips, the backs of her thighs pressed against the decorative open grillwork. And when the elevator jolted to a stop, she was no longer ademi-vierge . (p. 18-19)

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Matchmaking in Georgetown

In the reflection of her bedroom mirror, she looked elegant in riding breeches, top boots, and a man's dress shirt. When she removed her hunt cap, tendrils of thick, wavy hair clung to the sides of her face, accentuating her exotic, delicate looks. She had not yet developed into a great beauty; that would come later. But at the age of 21, she was already an astonishing sight to behold. People were often at a loss how to describe her; some even went so far as to compare her to a forest creature, a fawn in the woods.

She lit up a Pall Mall, and pulled off her boots with a bootjack. As she undressed, she slipped a 45-rpm disk onto her portable record player, which was shaped like a cookie box with a handle on top. It had been given to her by an aristocratic Russian emigre named Arkadi Gerney, whom she had met in Paris during her junior year abroad. She began to sing along with the record:

"Bongo, bongo, bongo, I don't want to leave the Congo. Oh, no, no, no, no, no! ..."

She laid out two separate sets of clothing on a bed- one for lunch, the other for a supper party that was being given that evening in Georgetown by Charles Bartlett, the gifted young correspondent of The Chattanooga Times , who was well connected in the worlds of Washington society and politics. Charlie and his wife, Martha, had arranged the Sunday-night supper with the purpose of introducing Jackie to John Kennedy. (p. 16-17)

* * *

Jack knew how to work a room. He remembered the names of relatives and had memorized funny little anecdotes about mutual friends. In a few moments, he had everyone charmed and laughing at his wry jokes.

"Jack had a wonderful, inquisitive mind," Pat Roche said. "He was always asking questions. He was fascinated by everything, especially people in politics. He was a real networker and loved to mingle at parties. He was fun and loved a good joke."

Jack accepted a drink from Charlie and then made it a point to sit on the sofa next to Jackie. Up close, his gray-blue eyes were set off by the gleaming tan of his face. He had beautifully tapered fingers. He was supple, almost feline in his gestures, and he looked like money, breeding, and power. Jackie fixed him with her widely spaced eyes and seemed to hang on his every word. She was different from the women he was used to. She wasn't boisterous like his sisters, or blatantly sexy like his girlfriends. There was a strange otherness about her. She had large, masculine hands, and a flat-chested, thin-hipped boyish body. But her face was the face of an exotic beauty.

"I've never met anyone like her," Jack told a friend later. "She's different from any girl I know."

They were a perfect match: two masters of seduction. (p. 68-9)

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Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend


Louis Arpels flung his arms out wide, stretching the buttonholes on his snug double-breasted suit.

"Welcome," he said. "Welcome back to Van Cleef and Arpels."

Joseph Kennedy entered the hushed salesroom of the famous Fifth Avenue jewelry store. He had come alone, without Jack, to pick out Jackie's engagement ring. His son had no interest in such sentimental things.

Louis and Joe had a number of interests in common, including women and horse racing. Louis's strikingly beautiful wife Helene, who had made the Best Dressed List IO years running, took Rose Kennedy to the collections in Paris, where she would select Rose's entire wardrobe.

"Have you brought along a photo?" asked Louis.

"No," said Joe.

"Well, Helene knows the young lady in question quite well and has guided me in my selection," Louis said. "Very American, like what a schoolgirl from a good family would wear, nothing fantasy."

Louis snapped his fingers, and the two models came into the room. One of them was wearing an engagement ring with a square-cut emerald of 2.84 carats and a matching diamond of 2.88 carats.

The other model had on a ruby and diamond bracelet and a diamond leaf pin. Louis described the quality and design of each piece of jewelry, and after a while, Joe got up to go.

"Send them to Hyannis Port," he told Louis. "These will be the first serious pieces of jewelry Jackie's ever had."

The two friends walked to the front of the shop, and Louis held open the door to Fifth Avenue. Louis had not uttered a word about price. And Joe left without asking. (p. 153-5)

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Dr. Feelgood

There was a knock on the door.

"Come in," Jack said.

A short, dark-haired man with bright-red cheeks appeared. This was Dr. Max Jacobson, a New York physician who ministered to an amazing roster of famous patients- everyone from Winston Churchill and Greek shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos to playwright Tennessee Williams and Broadway composer Alan Jay Lerner. Max was known as "Dr. Feelgood," and he was carrying an attache case with built-in pockets for his secret elixirs.

"How do you feel?" Max asked.

"My back bothers me," Jack said.

"Why suffer if you don't have to?" Max said.

From his attache case, Max took out an unlabeled bottle. Using a syringe, he carefully extracted a small amount of medication- a mixture of amphetamines, steroids, Placenta, calcium, and liver cells. With his wrinkled hands, he plunged the needle into Jack's buttock.

"You feel like Superman," said Truman Capote, the flamboyant writer and one of the patients who experienced instant euphoria from Max's injections of "speed." "You're flying. Ideas come at the speed of light. You go 72 hours straight without so much as a coffee break. You don't need sleep, you don't need nourishment. If it's sex you're after, you go all night. Then you crash- it's like falling down a well, like parachuting without a parachute. You want to hold onto something and there's nothing but there but air." (p. 255-6)

* * *

"Until Paris," he continued, "Jackie was nothing but a little housewife. But then, she singlehandedly began to create Camelot. The furniture, the ideas, the cooks, the food, the fantastic people she invited to the White House- Casals, Bernstein, Frost. And she did it all herself. While Jack was busy with the presidency, Jackie was creating an American Versailles."

Yet, even while this transformation in Jackie's character was taking place, she felt physically weak. She had never recovered her health after the Caesarean birth of John Jr. She still tired easily.

"I need pep," she said. "That's why I need Max."

When Alexandre had finished with Jackie's hair, he left the room for a moment so that she could get dressed. Jackie turned to Max and told him that she was ready for her shot. But as the little doctor opened his attache case and took out a syringe, Letitia Baldrige stepped between him and Jackie. Tish was concerned that Jackie was developing a strong dependence on Max's amphetamines.

"Jackie," Tish said, "you don't know what's in that needle. This could be dangerous. I'm against this. Don't do it."

"Nonsense," said Max. "There's nothing in this needle but vitamins. Here, come with me, and I'll show you."

He led Tish away to her nearby bedroom, where he gave her a shot that sent her into orbit. Then he returned to Jackie and injected his magic elixir into her buttock. (p. 287-8)

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In Sickness and in Health

"We used to laugh," his brother Bobby said, "about the great risks a mosquito took in biting Jack Kennedy- with some of his blood, the mosquito was almost sure to die."

Since childhood, Jack had been the victim of high fevers, seizures, and collapses. Like many men whose formative years had been scarred by serious illness, Jack was ashamed of physical weakness. He feared that if the truth ever came out, it would be his personal and political undoing.

His illnesses sapped his strength and undermined him psychologically, for he had never understood their ultimate cause. As a child, he was sorely puzzled by his afflictions and wondered why his prayers to St. Jude- the patron saint of impossible causes- went unanswered. As he grew older, he began to accept his fate, and he lived for the moment, defying the odds, recklessly seeking pleasure, never taking himself too seriously. He did not expect to live beyond his forties.

He had spent a good part of his life sick in bed, reading and thinking about death. His Catholic upbringing with its emphasis on life after death, his lifelong illnesses, and his hairbreadth escape from death in his PT boat in the Solomon Islands had all focused his mind on mortality. (p. 86)

* * *

For her part, Jackie could not get pregnant no matter how she tried. This was exactly what Joe Kennedy had predicted when he told Morton Downey, "I don't think porcelain can carry babies." The Kennedys silently blamed her for the barren marriage, even though it was not at all clear that it was Jackie's fault.

In fact, Jack had long been concerned that his chronic venereal disease- nongonococcal urethritis, or chlamydia- would make him infertile. During the first year of his marriage, he visited Dr. William P. Herbst, an eminent Boston urologist, and had his sperm count tested to see if he was capable of fathering children. (p. 181)

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Material Girl

"I have something very special that my chef has prepared for you today," Soule said, leaning slightly toward Joe.

He recommended a roast boneless squab for Joe, and a chicken polonaise for Jackie. When the entrees arrived, Joe got down to business. Later, he described the conversation to Morton Downey, and Jackie gave her version to Lee.

"Jack doesn't want to lose you," Joe said.

"He has a peculiar way of showing it," Jackie said.

"I know your relationship hasn't been so hot," Joe said. "But you have to stick with Jack. He's going to be president."

Jackie said that she did not care for politics or politicians and did not like being a campaign wife. She had her own interests, which centered around literature and the arts. She wanted more freedom.

What's more, though she had always liked Joe personally, she felt that she was being suffocated by the Kennedy family. When she and Jack were in Hyannis Port or Palm Beach, she did not want to have dinner every night with the family.

"Once a week is fine," she said. "Not every night."

Joe did not have any problem with these demands.


Excerpted from All Too Human The Love Story Of Jack And Jackie Kennedy by Edward Klein Copyright © 1996 by Edward Klein
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1996-07-29:
As Klein, a former editor of the New York Times Magazine, notes in the acknowledgments for his book, people who knew the Kennedys have been increasingly willing to talk about them since Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's death‘which means that a lot of what used to be gossipy conjecture is now being authoritatively fleshed out. Klein lists more than 200 people who agreed to be quoted with attribution for his book, and cites many more sources as well; what he has come up with can surely be regarded, therefore, as thoroughly vouched for. It is an extraordinary story, of the physically frail but sexually voracious President (among many ailments, according to Klein, was a longstanding venereal infection) in a battle of wills with a wife as determined to live her own life as he was to live his. Her passion as a mother seems to have been the only constant for her, having lost two children, one by miscarriage and the other at birth (the two others were born with difficulty); and the book begins and ends with her trying to ensure that John and Caroline hear only the best about their father. For Kennedy, despite all his charm, comes across as a ruthlessly selfish person who found close relationships, other than those with macho bragging companions, difficult. For all Klein's efforts to put some heart into the marriage‘and it certainly seems clear that they were growing closer at the time the President was shot‘much of their life together seems to have been inspired by opportunism on both sides. What will strike many readers is how emotionally difficult‘"all too human"‘the Kennedys were: he with his brash drive, his deep cynicism, his basic contempt for women (as learned from his father), she with her spoiled upbringing and passionate attachment to her own lamentable father. Klein's book is a swift, dramatic and colorful read, even if he hasn't painted quite the picture he seems to think he has. Photos not seen by PW. First serial to Vanity Fair; BOMC selection. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 1996-06-01:
A former editor-in-chief of the New York Times Magazine chronicles the tragic relationship between JFK and Jackie. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, June 1996
Publishers Weekly, July 1996
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