The Good Son by Christopher Andersen

Two Fridays ago I blogged about the book I was currently reading, “The Good Son,” by Christopher Andersen. Andersen has written a lot of celebrity biographies and I’ve read a few of his other books. I enjoy the way he writes and how he is so thorough in his story telling.


This book details the relationship between John F. Kennedy Jr. and his famous mother Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and how it shaped his entire life. Jackie had to delicately balance the Kennedy legacy expectations for John and his sister Caroline, as well as allowing them to live their own lives.

Andersen has spoken with many close friends and colleagues of the Kennedys that share intimate stories about the family dynamic through the years. I would say though that I didn’t feel like there was a ton of new information or stories. Three people that were close friends of JFK Jr. (Billy Noonan, Rob Littell, and RoseMarie Terenzio) who all wrote books about their friendships, were quoted throughout the book. I’ve read all of their books but haven’t blogged about them all just yet. But some of the stories I had heard about before in other books or through the media.


I will say though that it was nice to see the relationship evolve between Jackie and the children. She raised them so well and encouraged them to travel, and do adventurous things while also giving back to society and helping others.  It shaped a lot of their personalities and their future endeavors. Jackie also made a point of keeping her children away from some of the other Kennedy cousins who were more wild. She worried they would negatively influence them.


I also found it heartbreaking that John was constantly living in his father’s shadow his whole life. The media was relentless in bringing up his father and his legacy. It also didn’t help that John’s birthday was just 3 days after his father’s brutal assassination, so that right about his birthday every year the media would bring it up.

Everyone describes John as so charming and it’s so sad and unthinkable that he was cut down in his prime, before he was able to enter politics or have children of his own.


The Men We Became by Rob Littell

In this book, The Men We Became, by Rob Littell paints an intimate and honest portrait of who JFK Jr. was. Rob and John met as freshmen at Brown University and were friends for 20 years. They grew up together, lived together, went on numerous adventures (such as Europe, helicopter skiing, kayaking) and attended each other’s weddings, etc.


Rob is very honest about everything that they went through. He talks about how John dealt with being a celebrity and everything that went with it, including an incident with a stalker in college who showed up at their door. Rob saw how the legend of John’s famous father JFK affected him and his and other people’s expectations of him. He also addresses a lot of the rumors about John, John and Carolyn’s relationship, mentions of them wanting to have kids, John’s talk of running for president, and his dynamic with his famous mother Jackie.


I love reading books from people who knew him well because they paint him in such a positive light. JFK Jr. seemed like a stand up guy, who was so loyal, adventurous, charismatic, and down to earth. The hardest thing about reading books about him is how it always has to end with his untimely death, leaving those closest to him reeling from the enormous loss.


It is easy to see how much they loved and respected one another. They had a true ‘bromance’ and supported each other through the varying stages of their lives. It’s a book about true friendship, growing up, and loss.

JFK Jr, George, and Me by Matt Berman


Matt Berman was John F. Kennedy Jr’s creative director for George magazine and he wrote a book based on their professional and personal life through those years.

Matt did a great job painting a picture of New York and the magazine world and how fast paced it is. He writes in short chapters which makes it more readable for me and also more addicting because I tell myself I’ll just read one more chapter, and then of course I read more.

He talks about how he met JFK Jr, Carolyn, and how close they all became. Matt compared John to his older brothers, how they teased him and were protective of him at the same time. He was a normal kid from Connecticut (as was Carolyn, a fact which they bonded over) and found himself in an exciting world filled with celebrities and working closely with the son of the most beloved president.


Matt talks about photo shoots with big celebrities such as Demi Moore, Ben Stiller, Robert Di Nero, Drew Barrymore, Elizabeth Hurley, Cindy Crawford, and Barbara Streisand. He talks about what they were like and his interactions with him. Matt also said people lit up when they saw John.

Matt talked about his insecurities, which I thought was really refreshing and honest. He wondered if people were nice to him just because he was John’s creative director. He always sensed celebrities disappointment when he just showed up and they realized John wasn’t coming.  He felt the pressures and expectations from the media to deliver each month. But John gave Matt confidence he didn’t always have in himself. John had a way of putting people at ease.


And no book about JFK Jr is complete without the heartbreaking ending of his untimely death. Matt recounts the day their plane went missing and how he was thinking about John’s last time doing everything from waking up, to locking his bike and the last meal he had. He went through all the emotions of numbness, denial, and anger.

I love the way he summed it up, “How could thing turn so quickly? In one minute, John was nothing. Just as nothing had turned into everything when I met him, everything turned into nothing when he died So many things turned out to be the opposite of what they initially seemed. The first cover of George was actually a woman; the Prince and the Vampire (me) were very much alike; John’s icy wife turned out to be warm and funny. The job I wasn’t sure I could handled helped me come into my own. When their plane crashed into the sea, pure water turned into a brick wall.”


It’s a really sweet look into their friendship and life at the George magazine. He shows you how real and down to earth both John and Carolyn were and it just breaks your heart to think they were cut down in their prime, just like that, taken away from all the people who loved and knew them, and people in the public who didn’t know them at all, but felt like they did.


Carolyn Bessette Kennedy

Carolyn Bessette Kennedy breaks my heart. I can’t believe that she is not around anymore, along with her husband John F Kennedy Jr, and her sister Lauren. They looked so in love and happy and were so young. She was such a style icon and so classically beautiful. If you want to hear about her beautiful soul you should read What Remains by Carole Radziwill, who was married to JFK Jr’s cousin. It made me cry and was written so well. b472b8e6069309ffc9d37af6e42d5192






What Remains by Carole Radziwill


Carole Radziwill was the wife of Anthony Radziwill, JFK Jr’s cousin. Her book, What Remains A Memoir of Fate, Friendship and Love, is a heartbreaking tale of her life and the losses she experienced and endured.

Her husband Anthony had cancer on and off for 5 years and she chronicles their life in and out of the hospital. It is so well written and you really feel for her and her struggles. Carole is so honest about her feelings towards cancer and how hard it was to go through it. She goes over everything, including the doctors visits, the dialysis, the research she did, and the meetings with cancer experts.

I also really enjoyed getting an intimate look into the friendship she and her husband shared with John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette. They were so close and shared everything together, including vacations and hospital visits. They were often at the hospitals with the Radziwills for morale support. It is so nice to have a picture painted of what that couple was really like, straight from their family versus the tabloids and other unverified sources.

The book also goes over Carole’s career as a journalist and how she and Anthony met and fell in love. She grew up in a small town as the girl next door and went on to marry a Prince. History would occasionally pop up into their lives and I love the way she portrayed it and talked about it. For example, Anthony was JFK’s godson and he had a rocking chair that was once the President’s, that was in the oval office. That rocking chair sat in his apartment. They led normal lives but every once in a while something would come up that had to do with Anthony’s family and all that came with it.

If you are unfamiliar with this family and what happened, I won’t spoil it for you. But I will say that Carole Radziwill is a fantastic writer and has a new fan in me.

I read a lot of books and this is the first one that made me cry. It will break your heart.

John and Caroline by James Spada


John and Caroline is a fantastic black and white depiction of the lives of the beloved Kennedy children. This book has 255 photos starting from their births up until John Jr’s tragic premature death.

“They were the youngest children to live in the White House in over a century -Caroline just three and John Jr a newborn when their father took the oath of office. Symbolizing the youthful vigor of the new administration, they won the hearts of the American people as they romped around – and under their father’s desk in the Oval Office. And when, three years later, Caroline kissed JFK’s coffin and John Jr. saluted the passing bier, they were forever etched into the nation’s collective heart.”

“We see their awkward adolescence, their sorrows at senseless losses in the family, their first forays into romance, their efforts to establish themselves as responsible adults, their happy marriages and Caroline’s motherhood. And we watch in admiration as Caroline recovers from the untimely death of her beloved brother to assume the mantle of the Camelot legend.”

The nation fell in love with the  young Kennedys as they moved into the White House and continued to be interested in their lives as they grew up. Their lives were well documented and it’s a great look into their lives with and without their beloved father JFK. Jackie Kennedy raised such responsible, kind hearted adults and she deserves all the praise and admiration. My heart breaks for Caroline who has witnessed such tragedy in her life. The Kennedys continue to peak my interest.