America's Reluctant Prince
A major new biography of John F. Kennedy Jr. from a leading historian who was also a close friend, America’s Reluctant Prince is a deeply researched, personal, surprising, and revealing portrait of the Kennedy heir the world lost too soon.  Through the lens of their decades-long friendship and including exclusive interviews and details from previously classified documents, noted historian and New York Times bestselling author Steven M. Gillon examines John F. Kennedy Jr.’s life and legacy from before his birth to the day he died. Gillon covers the highs, the lows, and the surprising incidents, viewpoints, and relationships that John never discussed publicly, revealing the full story behind JFK Jr.’s complicated and rich life. In the end, Gillon proves that John’s life was far more than another tragedy—rather, it’s the true key to understanding both the Kennedy legacy and how America’s First Family continues to shape the world we live in today.

America's Reluctant Prince Details

TitleAmerica's Reluctant Prince
Author
ReleaseJul 9th, 2019
PublisherDutton
Rating
GenreBiography, Nonfiction, History, Politics, Biography Memoir

America's Reluctant Prince Review

  • Dale Wyant
    January 1, 1970
    This is a thoroughly researched and honest account of a man who was victimized by a society that forced him to live up to their images of him, unwilling to let him be a human being. Gillon had a unique perspective of being a teacher and friend to John and saw the conflict of his life throughout. It is a true biography, not a salicious attempt at cashing in on his relationship with a "celebrity." I highly recommend this book. I was born the same year as John, so it was also a great history lesson This is a thoroughly researched and honest account of a man who was victimized by a society that forced him to live up to their images of him, unwilling to let him be a human being. Gillon had a unique perspective of being a teacher and friend to John and saw the conflict of his life throughout. It is a true biography, not a salicious attempt at cashing in on his relationship with a "celebrity." I highly recommend this book. I was born the same year as John, so it was also a great history lesson and gave insight into the headlines of the day when politics started to mix with pop culture.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    This book provides a good insight into a person whose life was basically lived out in the media— I feel so much more empathy for him that I did before. Crazily, I had never realized that he really didn’t even remember his father, and wouldn’t really have an understanding as to why he was famous until he was older. But, I wonder where the author got his intimate details (quoting conversations he wasn’t part of) if he wasn’t that good of a friend? It’s hard to believe the info came from close frie This book provides a good insight into a person whose life was basically lived out in the media— I feel so much more empathy for him that I did before. Crazily, I had never realized that he really didn’t even remember his father, and wouldn’t really have an understanding as to why he was famous until he was older. But, I wonder where the author got his intimate details (quoting conversations he wasn’t part of) if he wasn’t that good of a friend? It’s hard to believe the info came from close friends— especially the awful portrayal of Carolyn. There was plenty of interesting information, even some unknown facts, but much detail could/should have been left out. The author states John was a private person, but shows no real respect for his privacy (or his wife’s).
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  • Stephen
    January 1, 1970
    This felt to me like a 500 page Vanity Fair article. I’ve always been fascinated with the Kennedy family and JFK jr, so I was eager to read this new biography. This book did give me sense of who he was, what he was like, his feelings about his father and mother and Caroline, the pressures he was under — real and imagined. But, you know what? He didn’t really do anything to merit a biography. And died too young to become what he was meant to be. Besides offering an inside look at the heated launc This felt to me like a 500 page Vanity Fair article. I’ve always been fascinated with the Kennedy family and JFK jr, so I was eager to read this new biography. This book did give me sense of who he was, what he was like, his feelings about his father and mother and Caroline, the pressures he was under — real and imagined. But, you know what? He didn’t really do anything to merit a biography. And died too young to become what he was meant to be. Besides offering an inside look at the heated launching of George magazine, this biography lists endless repetitions of John running from the paparazzi, John meeting and dating famous people, all doors opening for John, everybody wanting to meet John, John exercising in Central Park, John being reckless, John running from his legacy while earnestly protecting it while trying to figure out what to do with his life. John was mesmerizing and dazzling on the outside but inside was a lost little boy who never became the man he yearned to be. Which makes for an elusive biography.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent informative book. Easy to read and well written. It corroborates stories with those books written by John's assistant RoseMarie Terenzio's "Fairytale Interrupted" and Carolyn's alleged paramour Michael Bergin who wrote "The Other Man". Finished the book two days shy of the 20th anniversary of his death. It brought back the feelings of devastation and grief I felt. I appreciated the author's attempt to explain why John meant so much to the world and readily agree with him. John was spec Excellent informative book. Easy to read and well written. It corroborates stories with those books written by John's assistant RoseMarie Terenzio's "Fairytale Interrupted" and Carolyn's alleged paramour Michael Bergin who wrote "The Other Man". Finished the book two days shy of the 20th anniversary of his death. It brought back the feelings of devastation and grief I felt. I appreciated the author's attempt to explain why John meant so much to the world and readily agree with him. John was special..."son of a king" indeed.
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  • Carol Wiilliams
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this book. It was interesting to read new things and learn how much John carried inside his heart and head.I am always skeptical when an actual acquaintance of John writes a book. So many scream Money Grab! (RoseMarie Terenzio). This book seemed genuine. Carole Radziwill’s book, What Remains, is excellent.The only issue I had with it was the author jumped around so much and it was confusing to keep track of dates and years. One page you were in 1998 and the next you were back in 1997.I I enjoyed this book. It was interesting to read new things and learn how much John carried inside his heart and head.I am always skeptical when an actual acquaintance of John writes a book. So many scream Money Grab! (RoseMarie Terenzio). This book seemed genuine. Carole Radziwill’s book, What Remains, is excellent.The only issue I had with it was the author jumped around so much and it was confusing to keep track of dates and years. One page you were in 1998 and the next you were back in 1997.I feel like I found part of the Real JFK Jr. in this book. I never knew how much turmoil he had going on in his life because he always seemed so put together.A lot of new facts came out that I didn’t know occurred. So many.... If Only Moments. If only this or that had not happened in the order they did then maybe all three would still be alive.Carolyn did not want to go on that trip and had told John. RoseMarie Terenzio stuck her nose in and more or less bullied and guilted Carolyn into going so John would not look bad for going alone. Carolyn would still be alive if not for Terenzio butting in. Lauren may have not gone either. I can’t help but wonder what their lives would be like today had they lived. I’m not sure that marriage would have lasted.... but we will never know.
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  • Charlene Dapelo
    January 1, 1970
    Really slow and nothing new. Same story we’ve read before.
  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    What IfThis book brings to me so many questions about JFK Jr.What if his dad had lived. Would the choices he made later have still happenedWhat if he had driven that nightWhat if he had listened to his mother all those years ago.Would JFK Jr lived up to what others expected of him, what his family wanted.Would he be the same man Questions we will never get the answers to but this book gives you some insight into what he grew up to be.
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  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    I was already familiar with the majority of the material presented, but there were definitely new and interesting tidbits, mostly about Carolyn-how JFK Jr was her dream man and she was intent on getting him. Neither she nor Jackie come off particularly well so in that respect, despite the author being a friend of JFKJr, it was an honest and balanced portrait.
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  • Rita H
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 rounded up for solid writingThe writing skill shown is professional, the research amazing, and it flows smoothly. I can appreciate how much time was spent on research, interviews, and drafting this journalistic biography. The author, a college mentor/business connection/friend of JFK Jr. had access to people who previously would not open up to others and I learned so much about the whole Kennedy clan that I hadn't known. I enjoyed the early part of the book concentrating on JFK and Jackie's 3.5 rounded up for solid writingThe writing skill shown is professional, the research amazing, and it flows smoothly. I can appreciate how much time was spent on research, interviews, and drafting this journalistic biography. The author, a college mentor/business connection/friend of JFK Jr. had access to people who previously would not open up to others and I learned so much about the whole Kennedy clan that I hadn't known. I enjoyed the early part of the book concentrating on JFK and Jackie's meeting and their marriage, Caroline and John's bond, snippets about life in the White House, even the part about Onassis and how he doted on John on his private yacht and Greek island. Of course I had some interest in his own marriage and troubled relationship with Carolyn Bissette Kennedy. And then there is the accident that shocked so many in the world...But the drawback for me (and this is my personal take on it, not a criticism of the work) is that it is 464 pages... just way too long for an average reader such as I, who has just a casual interest in the subject. We are given so many details, such minutiae about Kennedy the businessman and editor of the magazine 'George' than I could-- or wanted-- to handle. For the reader who is deeply interested in the Kennedy family and bits of U.S. history spanning the late 50s to late 90s (or scholars, historians, & business people) this will be a good selection for you. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a case of "it's not you, it's me" for this book.
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  • Lexi
    January 1, 1970
    Very well written and very readable, which is all the more remarkable given the subject. JFK Jnr just seems awful. Really awful. Misogynistic, spoiled, lazy, entitled, patronising, rude, arrogant, disinterested, unfocused, reckless, and immature. The author tried very hard to demonstrate his thesis that John Kennedy Jnr was a good friend and didn’t achieve much else, but even that seems a stretch when the author admits throughout that people wouldn’t have tolerated his awful behaviour if he wasn Very well written and very readable, which is all the more remarkable given the subject. JFK Jnr just seems awful. Really awful. Misogynistic, spoiled, lazy, entitled, patronising, rude, arrogant, disinterested, unfocused, reckless, and immature. The author tried very hard to demonstrate his thesis that John Kennedy Jnr was a good friend and didn’t achieve much else, but even that seems a stretch when the author admits throughout that people wouldn’t have tolerated his awful behaviour if he wasn’t JFK’s son. I do think there was unacceptable expectations placed on him, which he was never capable of meeting. He was not clever, he was not the great hope for a second Progressive Kennedy administration (didn’t think welfare was a good idea, made people lazy!), and he had no work ethic. He just wanted to do what he wanted to do and that wouldn’t have played out well. The last thing the US needs is another spoiled and inexperienced brat in public office because they think they have a birthright. He was accepted to an Ivy League school with very basic grades and seemed shocked it wasn’t all just handed to him. He couldn’t be reached to discuss academic probation because he was off in Africa - which loads of young people would love to do would they have the means and no financial worries like rent and tuition, he complained about the press but courted them constantly, his mother used in his defence that he was constantly torn between being able to do what he wanted to do and his obligations and it was very hard for him (!! Who isn’t?! Who wants to go to a minimum wage job instead of their own interests?!), his mother wrote his university application, he defended his cousin and Mike Tyson following rape allegations and conviction, he borrowed money from friends with lesser means and never paid it back, he treated his home staff poorly, had temper tantrums, treated women poorly, didn’t demonstrate any understanding that there’s an obligation that comes with privilege of his family’s kind - particularly given the illicit origins of their fortune, he took opportunities from more eligible people for things he didn’t even care about (position in the DA office), behaved like a frat boy his whole life, felt his Uncle Ted was unfairly treated (the man who left a woman to die for 10 hours underwater without reporting it and potentially saving her, yet retained public office), and recklessly flew the plane that crashed and killed his wife and her sister. Overall the book made me constantly annoyed at him.However the author is reasonably fair, considering the close relationship he had with the subject. I can understand him wanting to see the good side, and there was obviously some good will there. But a tough read for anyone critical of unearned privilege, despite how well written it is.
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  • Idelle Kursman
    January 1, 1970
    I remember reading about John F. Kennedy Jr. in the papers all my life. When I was still living in Rhode Island, I recall seeing his picture in The Providence Journal when he was attending Brown University. This book brought back so many memories. I was excited to read about him taking the political science class of Professor Edward Beiser because I used to babysit his children growing up. I recall asking Mr. Beiser if he had JFK Jr. for a student -- he did but told me he was no different than h I remember reading about John F. Kennedy Jr. in the papers all my life. When I was still living in Rhode Island, I recall seeing his picture in The Providence Journal when he was attending Brown University. This book brought back so many memories. I was excited to read about him taking the political science class of Professor Edward Beiser because I used to babysit his children growing up. I recall asking Mr. Beiser if he had JFK Jr. for a student -- he did but told me he was no different than his other students. Apparently, he wasn't as starstruck as I was.Author Steven M. Gillon did a fabulous job summarizing the basic difficulties of JFK Jr.'s life: The public was hoping he would go into politics like his father. When little John gave the salute at his father's funeral, people felt he was the heir apparent to his father's legacy. In truth, he barely remembered his father--he was almost three years old when Kennedy was assassinated. JFK Jr. did not even remember saluting his father but the public did, and unrealistic expectations were placed upon him for the rest of his life. His mother Jackie inadvertently made it even harder for him because she wanted to preserve her husband's legacy, comparing it to Camelot, and unwittingly putting more pressure on her son to be the heir apparent.Gillon was one of Kennedy's teachers at Brown and then a friend. They kept in contact for the rest of Kennedy's life. Handsome, easygoing, and well-liked, Kennedy's life was filled with blessings and opportunities most of us only dream of. Yet he had his share of problems, which Gillon writes about: ADD, growing up with the Secret Service protection, a troubled marriage, launching his magazine, lack of direction in his life, etc. His life consisted of many accomplishments on a small but meaningful scale, and he was basically a good and caring person. Kennedy didn't let the accident of his birth into a wealthy and prominent family make him feel superior to others.My only criticism is I wished Gillon would have written more about his relationship with his sister Caroline. Except when they were little, she rarely appeared in the book.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    I remember well the day I saw the TV coverage that John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s plane was missing. I remember thinking, "Oh no! I hope he's not dead!" I remember having a hard time parting from the coverage to do anything else. JFK, Jr. was a fascinating American figure to many people, myself included. Had he not been so handsome I doubt there would have been such an interest in his life. I also remember when the magazine "George" debuted--and I remember thinking about getting it because it seemed lik I remember well the day I saw the TV coverage that John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s plane was missing. I remember thinking, "Oh no! I hope he's not dead!" I remember having a hard time parting from the coverage to do anything else. JFK, Jr. was a fascinating American figure to many people, myself included. Had he not been so handsome I doubt there would have been such an interest in his life. I also remember when the magazine "George" debuted--and I remember thinking about getting it because it seemed like such a good idea mixing pop culture with politics; but in the end I didn't like politics enough to get it, and while I had an interest and attraction to its editor, it wasn't enough for me to justify spending money on a magazine I probably wouldn't ultimately be that interested in reading. The book was thorough coverage on JFK Jr.'s life. The title "John F. Kennedy Jr. America's Reluctant Prince" is so accurate because of the fact that this man was born into a life of public scrutiny. He seemed to handle it the best way he could, and for the most part with grace. The author says that John once told him he had 2 identities--the public and the private. This book was an effort for readers to know more of the private person. Much of the book was about his last venture, the magazine "George." The book succeeded in letting us get to know the complicated young man who seemed like a very good person who wanted to make his own mark on the world and leave it a better place. The fact that the end of his life had so much unresolved turmoil is sad (magazine probably folding, marriage possibly ending, best friend about to die, career in politics a big question mark). However, he seemed to have a side where he took risks and that eventually caught up with him. While reading the book I watched the documentary (related to this book) about the last year of his life which provided more visuals and conversations with people with regard to who he was. We are left to wonder "what if..."
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  • Kathy Kelley
    January 1, 1970
    This book was a fascinating read. Like many Americans, I have always been intrigued by the Kennedys and this book gave some great first-hand information. The author actually knew John pretty well and he has done extensive research to corroborate any information presented here. John was constantly burdened by the mantra of his family heritage. He simply couldn't get away from the image of him saluting his father's casket, an event he doesn't even remember as he was only 3. He wanted to be known i This book was a fascinating read. Like many Americans, I have always been intrigued by the Kennedys and this book gave some great first-hand information. The author actually knew John pretty well and he has done extensive research to corroborate any information presented here. John was constantly burdened by the mantra of his family heritage. He simply couldn't get away from the image of him saluting his father's casket, an event he doesn't even remember as he was only 3. He wanted to be known in his own right as a viable businessman and maybe future politician. At times he abhorred his celebrity, at other times he used it to open doors. The book paints a very unflattering picture of Carolyn Bessette. She was moody and hormonal most of the time. It recounts times of her calling George staffers in the middle of the night and cursing at them. She had an affair during her marriage to JFK Jr. and also freely used cocaine. She was unprepared to handle the celebrity status that came with marrying JFK Jr. The marriage was on the rocks at the time of their deaths and most do not think it would have lasted. Another facet of John's life chronicled here was his close, brotherly relationship with his first cousin, Anthony Radziwill. Anthony was battling cancer and the scenes between the two men were touching and memorable. They showed a compassionate side to JFK Jr. Sadly, John died before his cousin, who followed a few weeks later. The book is sometimes tedious as it goes into the nitty gritty details of launching the pop/political magazine, George. John definitely had a temper and many staffers remember shouting matches between him and his business partner. The magazine was struggling financially at the time of his death and folded soon afterwards. I would definitely recommend this book to those who want an inside look at John F. Kennedy, Jr.
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  • Mary Sisney
    January 1, 1970
    I've read more books about the Kennedy family than I have about any other celebrities, including my favorite writers Toni Morrison and William Faulkner. Gillon's biography of his friend of approximately twenty years is one of the best, mainly because he's an academic--in fact, a historian. The book includes personal comments by the author, comments from the many JFK Junior friends, colleagues, and family members ( cousin Tina Radziwill and cousin-in-law Carole Radziwill) Gillon interviewed, and I've read more books about the Kennedy family than I have about any other celebrities, including my favorite writers Toni Morrison and William Faulkner. Gillon's biography of his friend of approximately twenty years is one of the best, mainly because he's an academic--in fact, a historian. The book includes personal comments by the author, comments from the many JFK Junior friends, colleagues, and family members ( cousin Tina Radziwill and cousin-in-law Carole Radziwill) Gillon interviewed, and historical information discovered during intensive research. The sections on John's years at Brown, where Gillon met him, and the tumultuous years developing and publishing the magazine GEORGE, to which Gillon contributed, were the most interesting. I was hoping that section would cover Ann Coulter since I knew she had worked at the magazine, and she did make a cameo appearance, along with Laura Ingraham, as a young conservative woman whom John promoted. But the most interesting cameo appearance was by another young conservative blonde woman. I couldn't wait to tell my Facebook friends that Kellyanne Conway was once a comedian. And who knew the now infamous David Pecker was so instrumental in getting the magazine published? I didn't. He even spoke at the GEORGE launch. If I had realized that writers like William Styron and Norman Mailer contributed to GEORGE, I might have read it before the death of its editor made me curious.
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  • Kelly Boone
    January 1, 1970
    Enjoyed reading about JFK, Jr. in general. There were numerous stories to support the argument that he tried to respect his Camelot legacy while being his own person, a struggle that few of us would want. I hoped the author would take a neutral political stance but unfortunately the bias is woven through out. I wondered how the experience of John’s close uncle, Ted Kennedy/Chappaddick would be handled and I was beginning to think it was omitted. For a sensitive boy, this unnecessary death of Ted Enjoyed reading about JFK, Jr. in general. There were numerous stories to support the argument that he tried to respect his Camelot legacy while being his own person, a struggle that few of us would want. I hoped the author would take a neutral political stance but unfortunately the bias is woven through out. I wondered how the experience of John’s close uncle, Ted Kennedy/Chappaddick would be handled and I was beginning to think it was omitted. For a sensitive boy, this unnecessary death of Ted’s date should have been devastating, and could surely may have inspired John to be a better person, but that was never discussed. The bias also shows whenever those [insert subtle but dehumanizing adjective] Republicans are discussed. Half the country is conservative, half is liberal- there is truly no need to demonize either side. I do have a sense that JFK, Jr. may not have bought into this pattern of thought, so that was refreshing. It was an easy read, but not a page turner for me, after the chapter covering the terrible assassination of his father. If you’re a Camelot afficianado, you’ll love the book.
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  • Deborah McEachern
    January 1, 1970
    I grew up "with" the Kennedy family. One of my early memories is JFK's funeral on the television -- I wasn't in school yet and I suspect I was mildly frustrated because it likely pre-empted "The Friendly Giant" that day. RFK's death hit me much harder...he hung on for a while and I remember praying he wouldn't die as well. Caroline was my sister's age and John was around my age. When he was young, he reminded me much of my brother. And unlike so many other people, I found I mourned his death mor I grew up "with" the Kennedy family. One of my early memories is JFK's funeral on the television -- I wasn't in school yet and I suspect I was mildly frustrated because it likely pre-empted "The Friendly Giant" that day. RFK's death hit me much harder...he hung on for a while and I remember praying he wouldn't die as well. Caroline was my sister's age and John was around my age. When he was young, he reminded me much of my brother. And unlike so many other people, I found I mourned his death more than Diana, Princess of Wales. It just seemed...unfair, somehow. So much promise, gone. And now his sister was the only member of that family left.This book, written from a personal perspective, was well-researched, touching and heartbreaking. Even as I read it, I found I kept hoping in a corner of my mind that the ending could change. I wonder sometimes how the United States would be had John been able to live out his life to all his potential. He had it all, as his uncle put it...all but the gift of years. Definitely worth a read...but the ending still feels wrong.
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  • Joy
    January 1, 1970
    Being one of the people that can't get enough information about JFK, Jr., I loved this book and read it over the weekend as I hated to put it down even to sleep. Much of it was information that I did not know which was great that it wasn't the same old stories. The new information solidified that John was an ordinary man and not the expectation that people were hoping for. He was a good and considerate man and didn't want to ride on the Kennedy coat-tails, but of course used it when it was to hi Being one of the people that can't get enough information about JFK, Jr., I loved this book and read it over the weekend as I hated to put it down even to sleep. Much of it was information that I did not know which was great that it wasn't the same old stories. The new information solidified that John was an ordinary man and not the expectation that people were hoping for. He was a good and considerate man and didn't want to ride on the Kennedy coat-tails, but of course used it when it was to his advantage. He still needed some phone calls made on his behalf from his mom or other family because he just didn't have the drive and they helped him unbeknownst to him. He hated confrontation unless absolutely necessary, and let his partners or friends be "the bad guy" not to diminish his image. Although I have a copy from my local library and have two weeks until I turn it back in, I might read it again since I have the time and read it so fast this weekend.
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  • Kimber
    January 1, 1970
    Some interesting new infoThere was a lot of information I had read elsewhere, but quite a bit of new information about JFK, Jr. as well. I appreciate the way Mr Gillon writes, with easy flowing verbiage, and informationally important. Many good sources and quotes, from sources probably not known to the general public before now. Well researched.What I did not appreciate was a comment he made on page 404 of the e-book edition, with regards to other commentators and writers speaking about why they Some interesting new infoThere was a lot of information I had read elsewhere, but quite a bit of new information about JFK, Jr. as well. I appreciate the way Mr Gillon writes, with easy flowing verbiage, and informationally important. Many good sources and quotes, from sources probably not known to the general public before now. Well researched.What I did not appreciate was a comment he made on page 404 of the e-book edition, with regards to other commentators and writers speaking about why they felt JFK, Jr. meant so much to the nation: "In trying to answer that question many overreached, assigning John a significance that he did not deserve." I would suggest that how ever these people responded was their own subjective opinion, as were Mr. Gillon's, and his comment is merely his opinion and not necessarily fact, nor the final say.
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  • Jquick99
    January 1, 1970
    If you’ve read the other books about John John, which the author cites, then there really isn’t anything new here. Soon after his death, a bunch of people, mostly his business colleagues wrote books. Even Carolyn’s ex (who claims they were still intimate after she was married) wrote a book. Maybe 2. It seems the author read all those and combined them together into this book. I guess they all wanted notoriety for being friends or related to him. Unsure why this is being published now. The book i If you’ve read the other books about John John, which the author cites, then there really isn’t anything new here. Soon after his death, a bunch of people, mostly his business colleagues wrote books. Even Carolyn’s ex (who claims they were still intimate after she was married) wrote a book. Maybe 2. It seems the author read all those and combined them together into this book. I guess they all wanted notoriety for being friends or related to him. Unsure why this is being published now. The book is overly long. NOT because it’s all about John, but a lot of background information, especially everything you did or didn’t want to know about Brown. I also don’t like it when the author involves himself into the story. Thus author REALLY inserts himself and wish this was edited out. I guess he wants to feel Special.
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  • Anna Fenoglio Tift
    January 1, 1970
    I grew up in a Kennedy house. I had RFK posters on my wall in 1968 (I was 7) JFK Jr was my age, we had the same touchstones, grew up in the same era, needless to say with very different lifestyles. I may or may not have shed a brief tear when I heard his plane went down. And that's the background you need to appreciate this book. It was interesting reading how difficult his life really was: only son of an icon, two icons really, and of course, a gorgeous man. And while he seemed to have everythi I grew up in a Kennedy house. I had RFK posters on my wall in 1968 (I was 7) JFK Jr was my age, we had the same touchstones, grew up in the same era, needless to say with very different lifestyles. I may or may not have shed a brief tear when I heard his plane went down. And that's the background you need to appreciate this book. It was interesting reading how difficult his life really was: only son of an icon, two icons really, and of course, a gorgeous man. And while he seemed to have everything, he also lost three fathers/father figures by the time he was a teenager. So much was expected of him and monitored by the press. On the other hand, he played football bare chested in Central Park. Like most biographies, it's only as interesting as you find the person.
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  • Laurie
    January 1, 1970
    I read so many memoirs that when I switch over to a biography, I always feel there is some distance between the author and the subject and for good reason. That’s what biography is - writing about someone else’s life - not your own and hence, the distance. So I felt that here - the distance - but I understand why. I thought this was an all-around sturdy biography of John Kennedy, Jr. reflecting the solid historiographical perspective of the author who is an historian. And every time I get to the I read so many memoirs that when I switch over to a biography, I always feel there is some distance between the author and the subject and for good reason. That’s what biography is - writing about someone else’s life - not your own and hence, the distance. So I felt that here - the distance - but I understand why. I thought this was an all-around sturdy biography of John Kennedy, Jr. reflecting the solid historiographical perspective of the author who is an historian. And every time I get to the end of this particular story, I long for it not to be true so that we can get to the real end of the story, the one we’ll never know.
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  • Jan Mardis
    January 1, 1970
    I remember the day JFK died, and I remember the photo of John saluting his father. I had hoped to better understand John by reading this book. But my take away was that he was still trapped in that same little boy mode. I can see if he had lived him running for president and winning, but we will never know. Makes me also question did Rose Marie feel guilt since she encouraged Carolyn to go on the fatal trip, and if she hadn't she and her sister wouldn't have been in that plane. It would have bee I remember the day JFK died, and I remember the photo of John saluting his father. I had hoped to better understand John by reading this book. But my take away was that he was still trapped in that same little boy mode. I can see if he had lived him running for president and winning, but we will never know. Makes me also question did Rose Marie feel guilt since she encouraged Carolyn to go on the fatal trip, and if she hadn't she and her sister wouldn't have been in that plane. It would have been so much better to just say she couldn't make it. No excuses necessary. But we can never go back and say if only..... those what if I had done so and so will destroy you if you dwell on them. And the Kennedy family could have paid back the money for the search. I would have thought if anything Caroline would have wanted his ashes scattered where he was happiest in Greece and in private.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    Well written and thoroughly enjoyable. Real insight to the man that JFK Jr. was. I live in New Jersey now but grew up in New York so I have a definite appreciation for him as a New Yorker.I found myself thinking-please don't fly that plane on 7/16! But of course-just as in the Titanic movie where I beg for the ship not to sink-it inevitably does. The only thing I did not like about the book was that it was not chronological , but I though it was thoroughly researched -you can tell that "Stevie" Well written and thoroughly enjoyable. Real insight to the man that JFK Jr. was. I live in New Jersey now but grew up in New York so I have a definite appreciation for him as a New Yorker.I found myself thinking-please don't fly that plane on 7/16! But of course-just as in the Titanic movie where I beg for the ship not to sink-it inevitably does. The only thing I did not like about the book was that it was not chronological , but I though it was thoroughly researched -you can tell that "Stevie" spoke to a lot of different people in John's life when writing this book.You will enjoy this book If you have interest in the Kennedy family.
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  • Caroline
    January 1, 1970
    This book opened a huge can of worms for me- I will have to read another book to see the similarities and/or contrasts. One chapter he is portrayed as an entrepreneur ahead of his time by starting George, the next a “dumb hunk.” A presidential hopeful who was a pothead? Estranged from his sister at the end of his life? I believe he was an unpretentious person who was tortured by his celebrity and what to do with his life, which ended too soon. Incredibly sad.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    Maybe 3.5. Well done biography. Managed to avoid being salacious and gossipy, I guess because it was written by a historian rather than a magazine writer. Pretty boring at parts which I guess is because JFK Jr was all expectation but had yet to really do anything himself. So why write a book about him? I dunno, but I read it. 🙃
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  • PrairieReader
    January 1, 1970
    I have always been interested in the Kennedy family (loved The Kennedy Women: The Saga of an American Family which I read a REALLy long time ago) and was eager to pick up this new biography of JFK, Jr.I thought the author did a really good job of separating himself as a friend and confidante of JFK, Jr. and presented a very unbiased view, exploring both the good and bad sides. It was very interesting to put into perspective that many, many more people had many, many more memories of John's fathe I have always been interested in the Kennedy family (loved The Kennedy Women: The Saga of an American Family which I read a REALLy long time ago) and was eager to pick up this new biography of JFK, Jr.I thought the author did a really good job of separating himself as a friend and confidante of JFK, Jr. and presented a very unbiased view, exploring both the good and bad sides. It was very interesting to put into perspective that many, many more people had many, many more memories of John's father than he had. It was good to be reminded that this man was THREE years old when he saluted his father and, despite the fact that millions remember it, to JFK, Jr., it was a picture in the history books.I thought the most interesting parts of the story were how the women in JFK's life were presented. While there was very little mention of his sister, Caroline, there were fascinating segments on his mother, Jackie, and his wife, Carolyn. Both have been presented in the media as very enigmatic and mysterious, but neither are presented in a very flattering light here. It is easy to forget that Jackie witnessed her husband's murder, held fragments of her brain in his lap, all of which were presented on a very global scale, and was widowed (and essentially homeless, such as it was) with two small children at the age of 34. Oh, and she had just buried a baby. No wonder she drank more than a little and was absent from home more than a little after the assassination. That being said, I would not have wanted to be on her secret service detail. Carolyn just sounded like someone suffering from mental and addiction issues, and it doesn't seem as if she and John brought out the best in each other.Another title to add to the continuing pile of Kennedy books.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    The story has been told before, but never so comprehensive. I’ve read many books about JFK, JR, but there were some new (to me) well documented facts. Of course we all know how it ended, but I was inspired to read every last word, and then some.
  • Nancy L. Mounce
    January 1, 1970
    Incredible readThe author tells the good, the bad, and the ugly. This book was so well written and I felt that the author, as John's friend, also tries to be true to history, I will probably read again and again. Such a remarkable story.
  • Sharalynne Pasztor
    January 1, 1970
    Yes he was rich and handsome. But he had a messed up marriage, a magazine that was failing, hated his brother-in-law, and lived with the constant pressure to live up to his father's legacy . All very sad.
  • Penny
    January 1, 1970
    This was a very well written novel. Some parts droned on and digressed to politics. I preferred reading about JFK Jr.'s life. There were many facts brought to light that I were new to me. His life ended much too soon.
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