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Book Review

August 23, 2012
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‘Mrs. Kennedy and Me’


Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

Reviewed by Barb Palar

By Clint Hill

Gallery Books

04/03/12

$26

343 pp

She’s one of the last century’s most fascinating characters. It would be hard to find a woman who has had more written about her, more photographs taken of her, and more speculation and judgment about her life than Jacqueline Kennedy. Much of what we read about her focuses on the scandalous and the negative. Clint Hill’s memoir paints a different picture. You may remember Hill as one of the pivotal character in the moments just after the assassination of JFK. He’s the heroic Secret Service Agent who bounded onto the back of the presidential limousine as it began to speed away from the scene in Dallas.

Mr. Hill was assigned to Mrs. Kennedy shortly after JFK’s election in 1960. He was unhappy about the assignment at first; he saw it as a demotion. But as he grew to know her, he came to relish the position. His admiration and affection for the first lady grew along with his respect for the job and its place in history. She obviously became quite fond of him, too, and looked to him as a confidant and trusted advisor.

Hill recounts many ups and downs with the first family including the birth of John F. Kennedy Jr. as well as the birth and death of Patrick. He traveled extensively with Jackie, to Paris, Italy, India and Greece. He isn’t afraid to poke fun at himself as he recalls playing tennis with Mrs. Kennedy at the White House, wearing a suit and falling into the water fully clothed while trying to help the President unjam his boat. Of course, the moments of that day in 1963 play out dramatically and painfully. Hill blamed himself, and probably still does, for not being able to protect the President.

Hill’s style is a bit clunky, but it’s an appropriate tone coming from a stocky man of the ’50s with humble midwestern roots. Something more polished would probably seem disingenuous. “Mrs. Kennedy and Me” is a new, intimate and fascinating glimpse into a life that’s been over-examined by those who would never know her as well. CV



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