Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath Hardcover – Feb 8 2012
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“With the benefit of hindsight and good old-fashioned maturity, [Mimi Alford] writes not just about the secret, but the corrosive effect of keeping that secret. . . . You can’t help liking her, or her elegant and thoroughly good-natured book.”—The Spectator
“What [Alford] sacrificed in lucre she has more than recovered in credibility and dignity.”—The Washington Times
“Compelling . . . a polished voice telling a credible story you can take to the bank.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Explosive . . . searingly candid.”—New York Post
About the Author
Mimi Alford lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, Dick. Together they have seven grandchildren. This is her first book.
Top Customer Reviews
What is fascinating about Mimi's account is the emphasis she realized in the power of politics. Of course Presidents have been seducing naive, nineteen year old girls since tale as old as time. Look how easy it was. Yet, even more interesting than Mimi admitting the power "the President" had over her; was the ability she has in telling her story so that one questions if Mimi acted any differently than the rest of us would have. Whose going to turn down an invitation the White House? to travel first class on presidential excursions? weekend getaways? but more than that- she stresses the psychological aspect any girl feels when an admirable man gives her attention. even if it weren't the president, any girl wud be flattered.
And I personally can't even believe people are surprised to learn that JFK was a womanizer, moreover, its crazy to think that people would think that this book would tarnish his memory. Much like Bill Clinton, these men were great presidents, so much so that JFK is idolized and almost defied by people. Yet, what Mimi ultimately exposes is him as a person. No doubt he was publicly charming but there were layers to him and often people forget he was human too.
And so was she, which is ultimately what the story is about. It's her story.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
While the veracity of her claims have come under a lot of scrutiny, I tend to think that she is telling the truth. I also get it in regard to how a young woman can get hoodwinked into a sordid affair with a powerful man.
What I don't get is why this very short book was written. I saw Alford on a 60 minute television interview with Meredith Viera tonight after I finished this book. Truthfully, the interview basically covered the main points covered in the book. While on tv and in this book Alford remembers JFK with fondness, I thought JFK came off badly and at times really quite perverse. It was very obvious that Alford was one of many women that JFK used for sex. Speaking of her personal experiences with the president, Alford was blunt but not overtly graphic. Mostly she talked about the sexual liasons in the White House and on the road, playing what she called the "waiting game" which consisted of being sequestered in a hotel room(to avoid detection) until JFK had time for sex. She also had a pregnancy scare which turned out to be a false alarm, though first friend Dave Powers flew into action and managed to provide her with the phone number of an abortionist. Apparently the realities of her situation didn't shake up Alford enough as the relationship with Kennedy sputtered on for another year.
I guess as a woman in 2012, a lot of Alford's youthful reasoning regarding this relationship when it was going on sounds ludicrous. However, if you put it into perspective of the way a young woman might have thought in 1963 it probably seems more plausible. That Alford appears to have been extremely naive adds to that credibility. When all this was going on, she appears to have given little thought to the entire thing except to maintain the veil of secrecy that was in place to protect Kennedy. The best way I can describe the whole thing is that Mimi was extremely naive and was victimized on a lot of levels.
Interestingly enough, while all of this was going on it was an open secret to employees of the White House and the press who well aware of the president's activities. Kennedy wasn't concerned with subtlety on most levels and was unbelievably arrogant as many people in a position of power can be.
Does Kennedy's legend take another blow with this book? Probably not. This sort of thing has been out in print for years, but it seems like this is just another dent in his armor. He comes across even creepier than I imagined, but that's just my opinion.
In the end, I didn't dislike this book but it left me feeling bad that her youthful errors in judgement had long lasting and unhappy ramifications that haunted her for so much of her adult life. It also left me with a lot of questions that Alford concedes she cannot answer because she never thought about them at the time.
In the end, reading this book will get people talking and may alter the public perception of what kind of person JFK was.
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