President Kennedy leaving a press conference in the State Department Auditorium on March 21, 1963. Behind him on the left is Press Secretary Pierre Salinger. (Abbie Rowe, White House, JFK Library)


JFK & the Press

President Kennedy read the papers voraciously and took a personal interest in all the reporters who covered him. Like all presidents, he was frustrated when he couldn’t control press coverage, though many historians think he did a better job at it than nearly any President before or since. JFK enjoyed an especially close relationship with Phil Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, but felt that the columns of New York Times’s Washington Bureau Chief James “Scotty” Reston were dull.


Jacqueline Kennedy & the Press

Jack Kennedy’s high regard for working members of the press was not shared by Jackie, even though she was the one who had once put in a brief stint in daily journalism. Though Jackie clearly enjoyed her and Jack’s close relationship with Newsweek’s Ben Bradlee and his wife Toni, socializing was one thing and providing the press with material quite another. Jackie made most reporters who were doing their job feel like intruders. For someone who valued quiet time alone, intense media attention could feel insupportable, and Jackie sometimes responded caustically. Once, for example, when asked about what she planned to feed her new German Shepherd puppy, she answered, straight-faced: “Reporters.” Nonetheless, Jacqueline Kennedy succeeded brilliantly at getting favorable coverage from women’s interest reporters. And she even made her peace with wire service ladies like Helen Thomas (UPI) and Frances Lewine (AP), who seemed to be constantly trailing her. 

More About Dear Mrs. Kennedy



Print & On-line Reviews
and Articles


On December 5, 2010 Liesl Schillinger wrote in a full-page article in the New York Times Book Review:

"The correspondence gathered in this book . . .  testifies to the impact of Kennedy’s life, and also offers, as the editors correctly observe, “a glimpse into the lost art of letter-writing". . . .
     “Even the least polished letters have a powerful effect. . . .
     “Books like DEAR MRS KENNEDY . . . have extra-literary value.”
To read the entire review:

On November 27, 2010 the Boston Globe magazine published an interview of me by Joseph Kahn:
"A country at a loss: Condolence letters after JFK's death paint a portrait of pain and hope, says the co-author of a new collection"

On November 7, 2010 Rinker Buck, premier political writer for the Hartford Courant, published a long article about the book, "Letters to Jackie Kennedy Resurrect Emotional Time":

"In the weeks following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963, letters of condolence to his widow, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, flowed into the White House at the rate of 40,000 per day. At the time, because the FBI and the Secret Service suspected a conspiracy in the killing of the president, they encouraged the first lady's staff to open, read and catalog every communication, just in case a few letters offered clues to the story behind the shooting. Eventually, more than 3,000 volunteers in Washington and New York sorted through more than one million pieces of mail to Jackie, and by March 1964, a tasteful, engraved acknowledgment card had been sent to 900,000 letter writers around the world.
     "These are but a few of the fascinating details to be found in Jay Mulvaney and Paul DeAngelis' "Dear Mrs. Kennedy, The World Shares Its Grief, Letters, November 1963" (St. Martin's Press, $19.99), both a sampling of the letters themselves and the massive effort to document them 47 years ago. The book is a curiously sentimental throwback to a time when letters — not e-mails or Facebook postings — actually meant something to people, and a testament to the enormous outpouring of emotion that followed Kennedy's death. . . . "
     To read more:

On November 4, 2010 Barbara Marshall, staff writer for the Palm Beach Post, ran a long article about the book:

"If the unthinkable happened today, how would a sorrowing nation express its grief to the first lady? Probably, in a bleating of tweets and emoticon-choked e-mails:
     "OMG! OMG! feeln bad 4 U. He was gr8.
     "But 47 years ago, heartsick people from around the world conveyed their despair at the assassination of John F. Kennedy in the lost eloquence of handwritten letters, now collected in a new book, Dear Mrs. Kennedy, The World Shares Its Grief. Letters, November 1963. . . . "

In their November 2010 issue, THE COASTAL STAR, a monthly covering South Palm & Coastal Delray Beach, Florida, ran a front-page portrait of letter writer Kathy Fay's family's relationship to Jack Kennedy and her contribution to DEAR MRS. KENNEDY. The article includes interview comments from both Kathy and me (and on the inside jump, a separate article about Kathy meeting Paul McCartney in DC two months after JFK's assassination).

Lexington’s (Massachusetts) COLONIAL TIMES Magazine, featured the contribution to Dear Mrs.Kennedy of Lexington letter writer Jean Winchester in their October/November 2010 issue:
     “It’s so amazing that my letter was sandwiched in between those of Dr. Spock and Winston Churchill. . .  When the publisher called me, he said my letter represented so many people in my age bracket. It was such a tragedy. I just wrote her from my heart.”



YouTube Video: A Conversation with Co-author Paul
De Angelis About His New Book

By videographer Jürgen Kalwa, including a guitar piece composed for Mrs. Kennedy in 1963 and recorded for the first time.

WritersCast Interview with Paul De Angelis About Dear Mrs. Kennedy
David Wilk interviews Paul De Angelis.


On-line Reviews & Coverage


"It . . . gave me insight into one of the most compelling events and one of the most compelling families in American history."


"Let me just say it: I cannot recommend it highly enough. One of the blurbs on the back says that it is a great book for the bedside table. It's true."


RUNDPINNE, 11/24/10:
"Rather than merely selecting several letters to allow the readers to get a sense of what the world felt, the authors went a step further to reconstruct those four horrific days in Jacqueline Kennedy’s life and the months following through various letters ranging from dignitaries to average citizens. Dear Mrs. Kennedy is a beautiful, historic treasure, a time capsule in book form. . . "



"A book about a horrible time when the whole world came together as one united force.  What a beautiful thing, even in tragedy."


". . . The book is history but it is also human feelings written for us all to experience thanks to Mulvaney and De Angelis."


" . . .  This book gives an inside look at the world’s response to a shared sense of grief. It will probably mean the most to those who lived during the Kennedy years, and who will always remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news . . . ."


". . . This book gives an astute impression of what it was like to live through such a historically trragic event. . . . I set the book down both enteratined and reassured of the good nature of people . . . I would suggest this book to anyone who is interested in history. . . . "


SIMPLY STACIE, 11/17/10:
". . .Many times I found myself crying — not teary-eyed, mind you, but full-on crying — over the expressions of sympathy, the raw emotion that is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed.
     "Dear Mrs. Kennedy
is powerfully moving, an unforgettable collection of a nation’s expression of sadness, distress, and horror over a senseless event that rocked the world."


"It always sounds so trite to say those of us who are over fifty remember where we were on November 22, 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. But, even those of us who were only six remember, and we remember the sounds and sights of the subsequent days. Jay Mulvaney and Paul De Angelis, in compiling a collection of letters written to Jacqueline Kennedy, have reminded us how the country and world shared those experiences. . . .  [A] beautiful, moving remembrance of that agonizing time."


OVERSTUFFED, 11/11/10:

"I am not much of a history buff.  I have decided that this is due to the incredibly boring manner in which the history books I studied in school were written.  I might also lay blame on less-than-stellar history teachers, too.  Suffice it to say, I usually don't enjoy reading history books, but every once in a while, one comes along that makes history come alive and draws me right in.
     "Dear Mrs. Kennedy
by Jay Mulvaney and Paul De Angelis was one of those books for me.  It is not just a collection of letters written to Jacqueline Kennedy upon the death of her husband, though that is what the book centers around.  It is a time capsule of feelings, frozen in its pages and ready to be felt again by the reader.  I was bawling by the end of the first chapter as I realized what it must have been like for The First Lady and how amazingly she dealt with the entire ordeal. . . "



"I truly appreciated the authors’ decision to do more than just catalog the letters.  They introduced each one by telling who the letter writer was in relation to the president, giving the reader a much more complete snapshot of the history of the time.  This was so helpful to someone like me. . .

     "My reaction to this book surprised me.  I was a baby at the time so have no firsthand memory of the assasination, yet I was greatly moved by the expressions of sympathy.  I had to put the book down more than once as the tears just flowed out of me.  It also made me realize more acutely than ever before the value of the written word; the art and sensory pleasure of beautiful stationary and handwriting as opposed to emails and text messages.
     "This is a book every American who cares about history should read as it is a fascinating portrait of the time; an intimate portrayal of the hope personified in one young man and the shock as that hope was extinguished so violently."



"Over one million pieces of correspondence were received from people in all walks of life and all ages. The letters were heart-felt and filled with sympathy. After many of them were read, they were packed into boxes. Mrs. Kennedy promised the letters would be preserved in a future Kennedy presidential library.
     "And that’s where they have stayed until recently. Now Jay Mulvaney and Paul DeAngelis have compiled many of them into this stunning compilation.  Dear Mrs. Kennedy is an example of how people around the world felt on that terrible day in 1963.
     "This book is both sad and inspirational. It’s a reminder of how we all felt at the end of 1963. More importantly, it reminds us how much we have in common. I highly recommend this book to those of us who lived through this time period and to younger folks as well. Good history."



Advance Review

From Publisher's Weekly

Mrs. Kennedy: A World Shares Its Grief

Jay Mulvaney and Paul De Angelis,
St. Martin's, $19.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-312-38615-3

Immediately after President Kennedy's assassination, more than 1,250,000 letters arrived at the White House from the famous and ordinary citizens alike, expressing their sorrow and sympathy for the president's young widow, Although she promised that the letters would be displayed at the Kennedy Library, they remained filed in a warehouse for decades until the opening of the library building. A controversial culling reducing the collection to 368,000 letters also delayed cataloguing of the letters until 1988. Mulvaney ((Diana and Jackie) and former publishing executive De Angelis regard the collection as a "poignant time capsule," and they include an informative historical backdrop for their selections, including letters from society queen Babe Paley, Rev. Billy Graham, and publisher Bennett Cerf, among many others. For those who relive the pain of the Kennedy assassination every November 22, this volume will provide company and perhaps some consolation. 20 b&w illus.



“I thought I would never read another Kennedy book until I picked up Dear Mrs. Kennedy. The book is overwhelmingly sad yet profoundly inspiring that over a million Americans cared enough to write letters. Anyone who cares about American history and the heart of the American people will want to read Dear Mrs. Kennedy. Jay Mulvaney and Paul De Angelis provide a rich context that makes the letters ever more meaningful.” 
—Laurence Leamer, author The Kennedy Women, The Kennedy Men

“More than a collection of condolence letters to a grieving widow, Dear Mrs. Kennedy is ultimately a window into the broken heart of a nation at a time of unspeakable tragedy. You will not be able to put down this deeply moving, inspiring book.”   
—Donald Spoto, author Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

 “A book for every bedside.  Framed by Paul De Angelis’s deft narrative, these carefully selected letters of condolence take us back to a moment in history we would do well to revisit.” 
—Frances Kiernan, author of The Last Mrs. Astor

 “Poignant and beautifully presented, this moving selection of letters to the First Lady is a remarkable record of a nation in mourning. This cogent volume will bring to mind an extraordinary time for those who knew the era and will be a revelation for younger generations who wonder what engendered the mythic appeal of the Kennedy years.” 
—Margaret Leslie Davis, author of Mona Lisa in Camelot

Dear Mrs. Kennedy is a poignant, at times shocking, reminder of how the world reacted in horror to the assassination of President Kennedy and how so many tried to express their deepest sorrow and pain to his widow. This book is a fascinating window into America's soul at the midpoint of the 20th Century and a profound reflection into the eternal questions about God, the meaning of life, and how we as mere mortals deal with senseless, inexplicable tragedy. In these letters to Jacqueline Kennedy, we are reminded why the world admired her courage, dignity and grace in the face of such evil and how she helped keep the country together at the very moment it seemed to fall apart.”
—Thomas Maier, author The Kennedys: America's Emeralds Kings.

“In this moving and lively account of the wonderful wave of letters to Jacqueline Kennedy in the sad days of November 1963, readers will be taken back to that time of world-wide mourning for the young American president. None felt that more than the thousands of Peace Corps Volunteers, whom John Kennedy had sent forth to Asia, Africa and Latin America and to whom people in the countries where they were serving came in shock and sympathy.” 
—Harris Wofford, former senator from Pennsylvania, author Of Kennedys and Kings

“Dear Mrs. Kennedy brings back to life the first national tragedy to be experienced as a mass media event. Using telegrams and old-fashioned letters, and with contributions from what seems like every well-known figure of the early 1960s, Mulvaney and De Angelis have deftly recreated an emotional turning point in American popular consciousness.”
—Martin Kaplan, Director of the Norman Lear Center, USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism