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Fresh Perspectives on the Camelot Couple

July 25, 1996|PAUL D. COLFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Booksellers stock new works in all sorts of sections--biography, new fiction, African American titles and even one big department we've seen called People.

What they really need is a section called the Kennedys. Another wave of titles about President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is reaching stores.

The bigger books in the group focus on the couple--Christopher Andersen's new "Jack and Jackie: Portrait of an American Marriage" and Edward Klein's "All Too Human: The Love Story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy," which goes on sale Aug. 15.

Andersen, a former senior editor with People, has written biographies of Madonna, Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson. On Sunday "Jack and Jackie" will mark its third week on the New York Times' national bestseller list.

"Jack and Jackie," which William Morrow & Co. put on sale June 21 with tales of other Kennedy loves (he with Audrey Hepburn, she with William Holden) may have creamed off some of the market for Klein's "All Too Human." However, the latter will emerge from Pocket Books to no shortage of media interest, based in large measure on the author's known friendship with Jackie Onassis and his high profile as a contributing editor to Vanity Fair. The September issue of the magazine on sale Aug. 9 will carry a lengthy excerpt from Klein's book, to be followed by a cover story in Parade and a piece on ABC News' "20 / 20." Oh yes, there's also a book party being given by Calvin Klein at his beachside home in the Hamptons, ensuring ample gossip-column attention.

And there is a third book, "Jacqueline Bouvier: An Intimate Memoir," written by John H. Davis, a first cousin and contemporary who fondly recalls the idyllic childhood summers the children passed at the East Hampton estate of their grandfather, John V. Bouvier Jr.

Davis has written five previous books about the Bouvier and Kennedy families. This 200-pager, to be published by John Wiley & Sons in a few weeks, covers only up to Jackie's wedding in 1953 to the future president, but the book goes a long way to highlight the formative influence of her privileged background and her warm relationship with her father, the philandering Jack (Black Jack) Bouvier.

In "Kennedy & Nixon," subtitled "The Rivalry That Shaped Postwar America" (Simon & Schuster), Christopher Matthews, the Washington bureau chief of the San Francisco Examiner and the host of a political show on the CNBC cable channel, reports a complex relationship, rooted at first in a "genuine friendliness" while the two men were serving in the House.

In "Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: The Making of a First Lady," photographer Jacques Lowe presents many of the flattering images he took from 1956 until the president's death in 1963. Put out by General Publishing Group in Santa Monica, the book has a foreword by Onassis' former White House social secretary, the etiquette maven Letitia Baldridge, and the eulogy given in 1994 by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Columnist James Brady recently pondered why we are repeatedly drawn back to the Kennedys. Writing in Advertising Age, he reminded readers that John F. Kennedy, "with looks and money," provided a youthful and dashing change from the "gray, middle-aged" presidents who had come before him. Jack and Jackie were "Scott and Zelda without the gin," Brady added.

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Garden Growth: House & Garden, shut down by Conde Nast Publications three years ago, will be relaunched next month in a much-buzzed-about issue that will weigh in at 372 pages--205 of them ads. The advertiser response makes it the biggest rainmaker since George bowed with 175 ad pages last year.

Meanwhile, comes other word from Conde Nast that next spring it plans to test an issue of Personal Best, spinning off for a male audience what is now the name of GQ's health-and-fitness section.

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Klein Still Kicking: Newsweek on Wednesday wanted the world to know that political columnist Joe Klein still works for the magazine. In an unusual announcement, the news weekly countered a Wall Street Journal report that said Klein had been suspended as a result of his false denials about being the anonymous author of the novel "Primary Colors."

It seemed to be a question of semantics. Newsweek Editor in Chief Richard M. Smith explained that he had asked Klein to extend his vacation in order to reflect on the fallout over being unmasked as Anonymous and to discuss the controversy with colleagues. At the same time, Smith repeated his admiration for Klein ("a fine analyst and commentator") and added: "I very much want and expect him to remain a Newsweek columnist."

Those who know Klein say he has a lofty opinion of his talents and that his extended absence from the pages of Newsweek would have a punitive effect.

Newsweek and Klein have been at the center of a debate over whether it was ethical to deny authorship of the bestseller.

* Paul D. Colford is a columnist for Newsday.

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