It is nearly fifty years since the horrific assassination in Dallas, and during that time the appeal of John and Jackie Kennedy, a uniquely glamorous presidential couple, frozen in eternal youth by the terrible and sudden truncation of their reign, has if anything only deepened. Until w, however, single book has gone beyond the gossip and the conspiracy theories to tell the whole story of the Kennedy White House - soberly, comprehensively and compellingly. In a major work of history Sally Bedell Smith w does just that. Grace and Power is a compassionate and poignant chronicle of pivotal historical events seen from the inside out, behind the headlines and the carefully staged television appearances. When John Kennedy entered the White House he was only 43; his stunning wife Jackie, astonishingly, was just 31. Amidst all the superficial opulence and lavish partying, we see political crises like the Bay of Pigs and the burgeoning clamour for civil rights from the perspective of a president often barely well eugh to appear in public, and a lonely young woman wounded by her husband's insouciant philandering and trying to build a new identity for herself. We see how John Kennedy constructed his circle of advisers, lieutenants and officials with equal measures of altruism and expediency, and the claustrophobic dynamics of the Camelot court. With immense pathos, Sally Bedell's narrative shows how, at the very moment when the President and First Lady had come through the first difficult years of his term and could begin to contemplate a campaign for re-election, a sniper's bullets ended everything and forced Jackie Kennedy to assume the biggest role of her life. Above all, Grace and Power enables us to see the Kennedys and their inner circle beset by the sudden turns of history while, at the same time, their style and politics were shaping the history of America and indeed the world. For those too young to remember the era of the Kennedys as much as for those who will never forget it, Grace and Power is the classic account of a historical moment that left an indelible mark on the last four decades.
SALLY BEDELL SMITH is the author of the bestselling biographies of Princess Diana, William Paley and Pamela Churchill Harriman. She has been a contributing editor at Vanity Fair since 1996. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, Stephen G. Smith. They have three children.