*This is a book review of the book Reading Jackie by William Kuhn*
Jackie Kennedy Onassis shouldn’t be remembered as a fashion icon. To be frank, after completing the book by William Kuhn, Reading Jackie -Onassis should be remembered as a fierce editor. Reading Jackie is a remarkable biography that shows a side of Jackie that is largely silenced by popular media. Kuhn provides a backstage look of Jackie’s lifetime before her marriage to JFK until her last days before her death in 1994.
In the book, she goes through difference phases in her life (well, doesn’t everybody?); however, there was always something consistent in her life and it was not fashion. No, fashion was the least important thing she thought about. The consistent factor that defined the final twenty years of her life was editing. Yet, her love for literature shaped her personality open and closed doors.
Ironically, Jackie never intended to gain world wide attention while others like the Kardashian clan exploits it intentionally. In fact, she never gave a damn about fashion or what the media largely focused on her. She was a natural for great style, but books was her real legacy.
She worked for Viking and Doubleday. She edited nearly 100 books in her career and had dozens of unfinished projects by the time she passed away. Jackie adored challenging projects and found the perks of her fame to persuade well known personalities like Michael Jackson to write his autobiography. Yet, being Kennedy-Onassis didn’t symbolize immediate success as an editor. There were plenty of occasions that some of her works weren’t well received by critics. Even failed projects such as the autobiography by Richard J. Daley never came true.
In the end, Khun wisely penned a book with style, humor, seriousness and a respectful biography of the former First Lady. Above all, Kennedy-Onassis was destined to live an intense life because at an early age, Jackie won a prestigious Vogue award for writing (when Vogue featured stronger journalism) and this recognition marked a future that would unravel after the death of Aristotle. As a widow, Jackie found herself away from the shadow of two well known men. She found her voice through editing. Her editing voice was loud and eternally printed in words.