Rare Jacqueline Kennedy interview being made public

A seven-part interview that Jacqueline Kennedy gave in early 1964 is being published as a book and an audio recording.

The New York Times reports that the interview, one of only three Kennedy gave after her husband's assassination, had been kept private until now at her request. In it, she speaks with the historian and Kennedy aide Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. for a total of eight and a half hours. They discuss President John F. Kennedy's time in office, their marriage and her role in his political life. They do not discuss his death.

From the Times:

At just 34, and in what her daughter, Caroline Kennedy, describes in a foreword to the book as “the extreme stages of grief,” Mrs. Kennedy displays a cool self-possession and a sharp, somewhat unforgiving eye. In her distinctive breathy cadences, an intimate tone and the impeccable diction of women of her era and class, she delivers tart commentary on former presidents, heads of state, her husband’s aides, powerful women, women reporters, even her mother-in-law.

The Times highlighted several stinging quotes Kennedy gave about public figures. French president Charles DeGaulle is called “that egomaniac.” The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is “a phony." Indira Gandhi, the future prime minister of India, is referred to as “a real prune — bitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman.” Kennedy quotes her husband saying, of Lyndon Johnson, "Oh, God, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon was president?" 

In the interview, Kennedy discusses her husband only in positive terms, presenting herself as "adoring, eager for his approval and deeply moved by the man," the Times reports. She says he wept in her presence a handful of times, including after the failed attempted invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961.

In a foreword to the book version, the Times reports, Caroline Kennedy wrote that the decision to publish was prompted in part by the 50th anniversary of her father's presidency, and by a desire to have her mother's perspective included in the public record.