Prather’s Pick: A new biography about John F. Kennedy Jr.
Recently, while browsing through new books at the Moffat County Library, I found two new biographies about the Kennedys. I was surprised to find them because so much has been written about the Kennedy family, it doesn’t seem that there could be anything new to write about. I was wrong.
This column features one of the biographies. “The Good Son: JFK Jr. and the Mother He Loved” was written by Christopher Andersen who has written other Kennedy biographies, including “These Few Precious Days,” previously reviewed in this column.
About “The Good Son,” Andersen writes: “In a sense, I have been writing on this book for over two decades…” During that time, while doing research — and he has done an incredible amount of it — some of his sources asked him to keep certain pieces of information confidential. Since then, though, some of these people have passed away, and now Andersen is able to use “fresh details and thoughts” in his books.
“The Good Son” is divided into two parts: “His Mother’s Son” and “John on His Own.” After a brief preface, however, the book begins with the events of July 16, 1999, when the Piper Saratoga, piloted by John Jr., crashed, killing John, his wife Carolyn Bessette, and sister-in-law Lauren.
Later on in the book, the reader learns that John Jr. always loved planes, from the time he was a small boy. At the time of the plane crash, John was learning to be a pilot. He had not yet taken the instrument flight test so he needed to fly under visual flight rules. John’s instructor was usually with him but not this time. The plan had been to be in the air when it was still light. However, they were two hours late getting started.
John was headed for Martha Vineyard Airport from where they would go to Hyannis Port to attend a wedding. It wasn’t long before it turned dark, and the night was described as “black.” The author writes about the way the human brain can become disoriented in such a situation, and John hadn’t yet had the training to cope with such a situation. Besides that, he suffered from attention deficient disorder (something I had not read before), which complicated matters further.
John, his wife, and sister-in-law perished in the plane crash. The book begins this way and ends with John’s death. The chapters in between cover John’s birth, the early years at the White House, the days following the assassination of John’s father, the Onassis years, John’s adult years, and a lot more. A significant part of the book deals with John’s relationship with his mother.
This is an interesting and well-written book. Christopher Andersen is the author of about 25 books. Besides the Kennedy family, he has written biographies of Princess Diana, the Clintons, Michael Jackson, George and Laura Bush, and others. “The Good Son” is published by Gallery Books (2014). It costs $27 in hardcover.
I also found and read, “Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story,” another biography, which I will cover in next week’s column.
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