America’s endless fascination with Camelot has enshrined countess pictures of Jack and Jackie Kennedy, Caroline and John-John in our national iconography, but few books have focused on their instinctive grasp of the media’s visual magic. Now, in a volume that combines arresting photography and perceptive analysis, Camelot insiders and media experts tell the whole story of the “love affair” between the Kennedys and the camera—a far more complex and sophisticated relationship than we often suppose.
The Kennedy Mystique looks behind and beyond what first meets the eye, reminding readers that JFK and Jackie recognized and used the media’s power, and encouraged photographers to capture private moments as well as public events. Unique commentaries from Kennedy intimates and observers like Letitia Baldridge, Hugh Sidey and Robert Dallek provide rare perspective on the photographs as historical records, as image-management, and as symbols. Readers learn, for instance, that the heartwarming shots of Jack laughing with John one Halloween were spontaneous, but the famous “candids” of Jack and Jackie putting the children to bed were staged.
The Kennedy Mystique puts the carefully crafted vision of Camelot in context of early-’60s culture and history to show how JFK and Jackie turned photography, celebrity, and media savvy into a potent political tool—and left a visual legacy of irresistible and lasting appeal.