Nonfiction November: Be the Expert…Books About the Kennedys

Nonfiction November

This post is part of Nonfiction November hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, Becca at I’m Lost in Books, and Leslie at Regular Rumination. This week, the hosts asked us to Be the Expert, Ask the Expert, or Become the Expert on a topic of our choosing. I chose to Be the Expert by sharing 3 or more books that I have read and can recommend about the Kennedys.

I’ve always loved reading about the Kennedy family. You’ve got glamour, wealth, and very scandalous behavior…what’s not to love?! And, you can feel good about it all since you’re likely learning a fair amount of history in the process. The Kennedys are my quintessential “Biogossip” (i.e. biographies that are so gossipy that they read like Page Six) subjects and two of the books below are on my Biogossip Recommendations List.

Books about Jackie Kennedy…

Jackie Kennedy, America's Queen, Sarah Bradford, Conversations with John F KennedyAmerica’s Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Sarah Bradford
My favorite biography of Jackie Kennedy.

Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy compiled by Caroline Kennedy
In 1964, Jackie Kennedy recorded seven interviews with historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. about her life with JFK. She is astonishingly candid (especially for such a private person) and divulges her true feelings about many public figures, as well as her experience with JFK. I read this in book form, but if I had to do it again, I would listen to it as well. I think it would be worthwhile to hear her tone of voice as she’s recounting her experiences.

Books about the Kennedy marriage…

Grace and Power, Sally Bedell Smith, Kennedy marriage, Kennedy Wives, Amber Hunt

Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House by Sally Bedell Smith
Smith specializes in biographies of powerful and glamorous women (she’s also done Queen Elizabeth, Pamela Churchill Harriman, Princess Diana, and the Clinton White House years). Grace and Power is the most in depth book I’ve read on the Kennedy marriage, focusing on their short time in the White House.

Kennedy Wives: Triumph and Tragedy in America’s Most Public Family by Amber Hunt and David Batcher (Release Date: 12/2/14)
I’m cheating by including this one because it will be released on December 2nd and I haven’t read it yet. But, I do have an ARC and plan on reading it. I’ve always wondered how the Kennedy wives (all of them, not just Jackie) put up with the philandering behavior of their men and I’m hoping this book will give me some answers!

On to the good stuff…books about Kennedy scandals…

Bobby and Jackie Kennedy, C David Heymann, Nemesis, Ari Onasis, Peter Evans

Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story by C. David Heymann
Yes – you read that right – a behind the scenes look at Bobby (not Jack!) and Jackie Kennedy’s long rumored affair. Other Kennedy books I’ve read have vaguely alluded to a “more than friends” relationship between Bobby and Jackie. But, this is the first one to make a direct case with supporting evidence that the rumors were true. And the author is a well-respected expert on all things Kennedy.

Nemesis by Peter Evans
Nemesis explores Bobby Kennedy and Ari Onassis’ longtime, bitter rivalry and how Jackie was somewhat of a pawn in their game. Ari is portrayed as a glorified, albeit very successful thug and, Evans presents an interesting case for his involvement in Bobby Kennedy’s assassination. This claim is somewhat outrageous and I wonder if it’s true, but it’s definitely something to think about and anchors the many scandalous revelations in this book.

Books about JFK’s assassination…

11/22/63, Stephen King, JFK assassination, killing kennedy, bill o'reilly

11/22/63 by Stephen King
I’m cheating again…this book is technically historical fiction, but I learned so much about JFK’s assassination from it that I’m going to include it here with the appropriate caveat. It’s one of my all-time favorite books and explores what would happen if someone could travel back in time to try to stop the assassination of JFK.

Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
Probably the best primer on JFK’s assassination. This is the book to read first if you’re a relative newcomer to this topic. It wasn’t my favorite because I read it after reading a lot of material on the assassination, so it felt a bit rehashed for me. But, it is the most straightforward and clearly laid out account of this historic event out of all that I’ve read…and I wish I’d read it first!

I’d love to hear about any other Kennedy books you would recommend! Interestingly, Musings from a Book Mammal chose the Kennedys as her topic as well and her list is almost completely different from mine, so check it out!

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  1. Bex wrote:

    Thanks so much for this post and amazing recommendations! I know next to nothing about the Kennedys and these look like a great place to start. People have been recommending the Stephen King to me for ages so I might actually get it from the library 🙂

    Posted 11.9.14 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      11/22/63 is one of my favorite books of all time – of any genre…it was just fantastic. And I’m NOT one to normally buy into any book involving time travel, but he made it work.
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted 11.9.14 Reply
  2. As you have shown, there is no shortage of books about the Kennedys. Jackie has always been my absolute favorite. I admire her allure, style, and grace.

    Posted 11.9.14 Reply
  3. Great post for Nonfiction November, Week 2! The Kennedys are always good for a dose of juicy gossip, scandal, etc.

    I have to put my Be the Expert post together still–tomorrow when the kids are at school and I get a quiet house again!

    Posted 11.9.14 Reply
  4. Eva wrote:

    Laurence Leamer has a companion series about the Kennedys that is so good! The Kennedy Men (I think this is actually split into 2 books, one covering 1910-1963, the other starts after 1963, but I’ve only read the first one) and The Kennedy Women. The Kennedy Men was fantastic, but The Kennedy Women! Exquisite.

    Posted 11.10.14 Reply
  5. bookmammal wrote:

    Great topic idea! 🙂
    I’ve also read Grace and Power and liked it–but it didn’t make the cut for my list. I just couldn’t include EVERYTHING, right? And I agree with the comment above about Lawrence Leamer’s Kennedy books–I’ve read all of them but especially enjoyed Kennedy Women.
    I’ve never read any of Stephen King’s novels, and I am SO NOT INTO time travel, but maybe I need to give 11/22/63 a try . . .

    Posted 11.10.14 Reply
  6. I have always been curious about the Kennedys (especially Jackie) but haven’t read anything about them yet. I think I’m going to start at the top of your list.

    Posted 11.11.14 Reply
  7. Trish wrote:

    I love that both you and book mammal chose this subject but such different books! That’s the great thing about nonfiction–you can quickly spiral into a nonfiction funnel that just keeps spinning and spinning! So.Many.Great.Books!

    I’ve only read 11/22/63 (loved!) but wow about Bobby and Jackie! I recently watched the mini-series about the Kennedys and it was a fascinating look at a subject I don’t know much about (other than having visited the 6th Floor and driving/walking by the area many times).

    Posted 11.12.14 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      I know, right?! I was disappointed at first to see I had the same topic as someone else, but ended up intrigued that we had such different lists…so, I ended up putting a link to her post on mine!

      Though I’ve read a fair amount about them (but, would in no way claim to be an actual expert :)), I have never been to the actual site…so you’ve got one on me!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted 11.12.14 Reply
  8. Brona wrote:

    The Kennedy’s are endlessly fascinating I agree – & I live on the other side of the world!
    I’ve never understood how Jackie married Onassis & we all wonder what the world would now look like if JFK had lived (& Bobby).

    Posted 11.13.14 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      I know, right?! One of the books I read says Jackie married Onassis for the privacy and protection (security) he could provide her. Only a billionaire could provide that stuff 🙂

      Posted 11.13.14 Reply
  9. I really like that you included 11/22/63 on your list even though it’s not actually nonfiction. I feel like well-researched historical fiction can have some elements of nonfiction that are really educational and they sometimes stick with me better because I’m enjoying the fictional parts of the story so much.

    Posted 11.13.14 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      I totally agree!!

      Posted 11.13.14 Reply
  10. Lu wrote:

    I loved that you included a couple of fiction books in this list! Last year we had a “If you liked this novel, read this nonfiction” topic and I loved reading those recommendations!

    Posted 11.16.14 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      I love that concept! Only one of the titles was fiction – 11/22/63, but I feel like really good historical fiction can be just as good as nonfiction sometimes! And I definitely still learn a lot from them!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted 11.16.14 Reply

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