Indira Gandhi pushy, horrible: Jackie Kennedy
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Last Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2011, 12:42
  
New York: It's a side of Jacqueline Kennedy only friends and family knew. Funny and inquisitive, canny and cutting. In "Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F Kennedy", the former first lady was not yet the jet setting celebrity of the late 1960s or the literary editor of the 1970s and '80s. But she was also nothing like the soft-spoken fashion icon of the three previous years.

She was in her mid-30 s, recently widowed, but dry-eyed and determined to set down her thoughts for history.

In the conversations she refers to France's Charles de Gaulle, whom she had famously charmed on a visit to Paris, as "that egomaniac" and "that spiteful man". Indira Gandhi, the future prime minister of India, was a "prune bitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman".

In a different side to her, the tapes reveal her pleading with her husband to allow her and their children stay with him in event of a nuclear Armageddon , around the time of the Cuban missile crisis. "Please don't send me anywhere. If anything happens, we're all going to stay right here with you," she told the president, according to ABC News.

In the event there was not enough space in the White House bomb bunker, she told him: "Please, then I just want to be on the lawn when it happens - you know - but I just want to be with you, and I want to die with you, and the children do too - than live without you."

Kennedy met with historian and former White House aide Arthur M Schlesinger Jr in her 18th century Washington house in the spring and early summer of 1964. At home and at ease, as if receiving a guest for afternoon tea, she chatted about her husband and their time in the White House.

The young Kennedy children, Caroline and John Jr, occasionally pop in. On the accompanying audio discs, you can hear the shake of ice inside a drinking glass. The tapes were to be sealed for decades and were among the last documents of her private thoughts. She never wrote a memoir and became a legend in part because of what we didn't know. The book is coming out on Wednesday as part of an ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of president Kennedy's first year in office. Jacqueline died in 1994, and Schlesinger in 2007.

Bureau Report


First Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2011, 12:22


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