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Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation [Hardcover]

Ellen Fitzpatrick

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  49 reviews
47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommend March 7 2010
By Alice O'Malley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great book, highly recommend it. I am very grateful for the opportunity to read these letters, expressing the thoughts and feelings of these letter writers. The unqualified heartfelt expressions of empathy and sympathy reminded me of a time when people were not filled with hate and judgment about an indivdual's character flaws, puplically rejoicing in a person's faults, but instead chose to speak about that part of the individual's character which was truly great, because either it was real, which in this case it was, or believed, or had instilled inspiration, or just because it was the right thing to say, to offer strength to those in a state of mourning and to share in that mourning.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important book for this era March 9 2010
By Lyn Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
This may be one of the most important books for this era. The book transcends all generations. Baby boomers will be reminded how a nation united under tragedy. The younger generation will fully understand what the death of JFK meant to the nation, young, old, educated, uneducated, rich and poor. MS. Fitzpatrick has done a fantastic job of bridging the generational gap. The reader will also come away with the disturbing knowledge that we now have destroyed the English language with our wonderful technology. When a convicted felon's letter reads like exquisite poetry, it makes one wonder. To read one letter draws you into the next and the next. I loved it.
I also wonder, if this incident had occurred now, would the nation take the time to write letters of condolence to a First Lady? How do you "text" a condolence letter? Would anyone bother to "write" a letter.

Lyn Roberts
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo March 10 2010
By Ethel Joleen, Boston - Published on Amazon.com
Letters to Jackie is a book that will surprise many readers for many personal reasons. Most people do not realize how many Americans took the time to write a condolence letter to the First Lady. Politically, not every letter was written by people that agreed with JFK's politics, but the humanness of the loss was overwhelming and people ignored their politics. It's an important book for younger readers as well as it fills in large gaps of history that many have never encountered in school. They will experience through these letters a sense of hope and love for this man as a humanitarian. JFK affected ALL Americans in a profound manner- poor and rich, young and old. You will see this vividly when reading the letters' outpouring.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My letter is in the book April 11 2010
By Roberta S. Jacobs - Published on Amazon.com
This is what I wrote to family and friends about this book.

In October 2009, I received a phone call from Sarah Little. She said she was trying to connect with people who wrote to Mrs. John F. Kennedy. She asked, "Did you write a letter to her?" I said, "I wasn't sure that I had." Then she started reading what she had in front of her. I realized quickly that it was something I had written. We had a nice talk and I thought no more about it. A few weeks later, I received a letter from Mary Dalton-Hoffman. She told me a little more about the project and included a copy of my letter, a bio of Ellen Fitzpatrick, and a copy of the letter attached to a release form that she wanted me to sign and return. Still not willing to believe this was real, I sent the contract to my daughter, Linda, who is a lawyer. She saw no reason why I shouldn't sign it, but gave me some questions to ask. So I called Mary and asked the questions and still forgot about it. Then I received a couple of calls and said, "Yes, my letter could be used." Still more time passed and I got another call asking me to please sign the release. Then, she sent another copy of the release. Finally on January 5, 2010, Mary received my release. I wondered about the book. Then I received something from Amazon saying that there was a new book coming out March 7 called "Letters to Jackie" by Ellen Fitzpatrick. Last Thursday, March 11, 2010, I received my autographed copy of the book. My husband looked for my letter and found it. It takes up over 2 pages in the book. There is also a short bio. Over 1.5 million letters had been sent. About 250 letters were chosen to be included in the book. They are from all walks of life. Some were written by children, Negroes, people from other countries, a convicted felon, and even a wire from General Douglas MacArthur. It's really quite exciting to realize that I am included in the book. Although, I haven't had time to read the whole book, what I have read has been quite interesting. In a review at Amazon, Lyn Roberts says, "... To read one letter draws you into the next and the next. I loved it. I also wonder, if this incident had occurred now, would the nation take the time to write letters of condolence to a First Lady? How do you "text" a condolence letter? Would anyone bother to "write" a letter."

I guess I have to say, I still write letters, but now I email them to family and friends. I found the letters were woven together beautifully. The book stirs up so many memories of the time. Although the book is not an easy read, I find it a good perspective of that time in history.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Even though you showed no tears, I knew better than anyone that in the privacy of your own room, you cried" June 18 2010
By SusieQ - Published on Amazon.com
The title of my review is an excerpt from a particularly beautiful and compassionate letter from another widow, Helen Milano, to Jacqueline Kennedy, dated January 13, 1964. (Mrs. Milano's husband, a lawyer, was shot and killed by a client in April of 1963.)

Mrs. Milano goes on to tell Mrs. Kennedy:

"For me, nine months have gone by, and I still cry in
my pillow every night. Though I could not understand
why this should happen to my husband... I felt that
somewhere, somehow I would find the strength and the
courage to face reality. But thus far, my depression
was very great. I spent many hours with my priest and
he constantly told me that God would show me the way.

And then, while watching your sweet face, day after
day, I suddenly knew that God had chosen your courage
and tremendous faith to show me the way. Whenever my
day is bad and little on the depressing side, I think
of you, and say a Hail Mary for your husband and mine,
and the day seems to be a little less depressing.

God certainly moves in mysterious ways, for suddenly
'He' showed me the way through you, dear gracious,
humble and courageous Lady."

(I think the words Mrs. Milano uses to describe Mrs. Kennedy are just as applicable to Mrs. Milano.)

It's because of letters like this that this is a wonderful book. With what grief, respect and care these writers attempted to allievate Mrs. Kennedy's sorrow, and their own. Reading these letters really does give a reader born after 1963 a window into the emotions of the public and something of the visceral impact of the Kennedy assassination.

So why did I give this book four stars?

The letters are bordered with commentary from the author, Ellen Fitzpatrick. At page 201 Ms. Fitzpatrick states:

"It is hard to recall today that the culture of self-
revelation and public confession that is so much a
part of contemporary America did not exist in that
period. (...) The world of manners then stressed
propriety, decorum, and deference. _Many considered
rectitude, reserve, and reticence as virtues rather
than regrettable vestiges of repression one ought
to strive to overcome._"

That last sentence to me is Ms. Fitzpatrick's personal thrust into an otherwise affecting and well-edited collection of letters. I'll grant that some people may be reserved or reticent to the point of needing to overcome. But it's unfair for this imperceptive and insulated history professor to indicate these three traits are regrettable in every instance, or that they can't be virtues. I certainly don't believe that integrity, restraint and discretion -synonyms for rectitude, reserve, and reticence- are merely: "vestiges of repression" that ought to be overcome. I, for "one", could really do without the vomiting of out-of-control emotions - anger, prejudice, and "Too Much Information" that I see every day, just from switching on a TV or from reading "comments" sections in newspapers, or online. The writers of these letters, Mrs. Milano and the others, don't fall into this category - for all their emotion, they are gracious, thoughtful, and yes, restrained - just wanting to be consoled and to console.

Ironically, Jacqueline Kennedy, during those four intense days of national grief, was a model for the virtues of "rectitude, reserve and reticence" and probably would have been the last person to think that these qualities are regrettable.

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