Intermission: Listening to Jackie Kennedy

Posted by Megan Greenwell

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Reading news coverage of famous figures' candid words can be mildly titllating, but nothing can replace the feeling of eavesdropping that comes from hearing the recordings themselves. And when the famous figure in question is one of the most-discussed First Ladies in American history, the effect is even more powerful.

Eight-plus hours worth of recordings of historian Arthur Schlesinger's interviews with Jacqueline Kennedy were released today, and the clips that have hit the web are fascinating. She was certainly candid—in large part, perhaps, because she was told the tapes wouldn't be released until 50 years after her death, or 2044—calling Martin Luther King Jr. "a phony" and saying her husband considered his vice president, Lyndon Johnson, unqualified to lead the nation. She endorses traditional gender roles, describing her own marriage as "Victorian or Asiatic," and describes the terror of living through the Bay of Pigs crisis.

For those of us who weren't born when President Kennedy was assassinated, it's easy to forget that his wife was only 34. Listening to her talk through her grief makes her seem very human and very young indeed. Have a listen.