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John F. Kennedy had an infinitely complicated relationship with his wife. On this occasion, probably in the summer of 1959, Senator Kennedy dictated a letter to his wife full of caustic insights. Here we eavesdrop on the Kennedy as he tells his wife of his visit to his in-laws home in Newport, Rhode Island. (p. 407)


Book Excerpt
Audio Clip 1, p. 407

As for his wife, Jack may not have been sexually loyal to Jackie, but he deeply appreciated her wry, mocking quality. If not for the exigencies of politics in a democracy, he probably would have enjoyed standing aloof with his wife and looking with her in disdainful amusement at what passed as humanity. He dictated a letter to her after a visit to Newport, probably in the summer of 1959, that exhibited those qualities in full measure, especially in his description of a dinner party. "I was taken into the kitchen and introduced to all the help who were just over from Ireland," he said into the Dictaphone. "I find them more attractive than the guests." He shared with Jackie an overwhelming concern for the sheer physical attractiveness of humans, wincing at the sight of ugliness. "Jenny Ryan was there with her rather squinty-eyed children for a five-week period," he said. "Mrs. Shaw [the nanny] is the loveliest figure actually on the beach and has a beautiful red-brown bathing suit that goes with her hair. She has let herself go however slightly around the middle."