Picks and Pans Review: Jack and Jackie: Portrait of An American Marriage

updated 07/15/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/15/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Christopher Andersen

Read again about how Jack fumed over Jackie's spending! Relive Jackie's triumphant visit to Paris! Eavesdrop as the couple squabbles over press photographers' access to their children (Jack wants more, Jackie less).

Though Andersen, who has written unauthorized biographies of Madonna, Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger, among others, dutifully talked to many of the couple's friends, relatives and employees, most had nothing fresh to say. He does dig up a brief, heretofore unreported affair between the young Senator and Audrey Hepburn in the early days of his romance with Jackie. With her exquisite looks and intelligent conversation, says one acquaintance, Hepburn "out-Jackied Jackie." Of course, Kennedy's White House ambitions precluded marriage to the Brussels-born, non-Catholic movie star.

Andersen's account picks up some speed during the White House years, and so, he writes, did his subjects—who both received regular injections of an amphetamine "cocktail" from Dr. Max Jacobson, aka the notorious Dr. Feelgood. The narrative slows when he repeats the list of women JFK supposedly bedded during his Administration.

It is the author's belief that Jack and Jackie had a deep affection for each other, and that beneath all the trappings of wealth and power, they too faced many of the same life problems—miscarriages, caring for aging parents—that ordinary Americans confront. That's a hard sell to readers wading through page after page of philandering, drug use and megabuck shopping sprees. But then comes the devastating death, touchingly told, of the couple's third child, Patrick, on Aug. 9, 1963. And in this instance, at least, the Kennedys bore their grief privately, with dignity and pretty much like any other couple. (Morrow, $24)

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