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Caroline Kennedy Gets Standing Ovation

Her mother thought American history was boring because not enough women were in it, Kennedy said.

Even before the event began, she got a standing ovation.

Caroline Kennedy was in the Bay Area on Tuesday night for the only West Coast stop on her national book tour.

She shared tidbits from her latest book, “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy” with a full house at the in Redwood City.

Sensibly dressed in a black cardigan and dress combo, Kennedy elegantly pointed out that last week, her latest book bumped Dick Cheney’s book out of the New York Times' Best Sellers top spot.

The audience applauded with delight. Kennedy subsequently shared stories about her life with the 1,300 or so people who bought tickets to hear her talk and get their books signed. Notably, three quarters of the audience were women.

The compilation is one-half audio book and one-half written word that contains recordings of a series of conversations between former White House aide Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

“These were formal interviews, not accidental,” Kennedy said, “Both understood that they were creating a primary source document.”

The chats were taped and transcribed four months after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas in 1963. The transcriptions are a rare glimpse into the life of a woman who valued her privacy and notoriously declined to give interviews.

The tapes were locked in a vault for decades, echoing what happened to the Manchester interviews, but are being released now, 17 years after Jacqueline’s death, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s presidential inauguration.

Jacqueline Kennedy agreed to the interviews with the understanding that this was an oral history project which would serve future generations of Americans who are interested in her husband, and his time in the White House, Kennedy said.

“And now that she’s an international icon, it’s hard to remember that she was only 31 when my father became president,” Kennedy told the audience as she leaned forward slightly to rest her arm on the podium. 

The goal of publishing these audio recordings is to perserve an intimate portrait of JFK's presidency, stimulate an interest in public service, and help initiate discussions about how we can solve the problems of our time, Kennedy said.

While some balk at the candid things that Jacqueline Kennedy says in the tapes about female politicians, Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy said that these unfiltered descriptions enhance the public’s appreciation for her mother. She asked that people consider historical context that envelops the interviews.

Jacqueline was a public figure who inspired women to live life on their own terms and continues to do so today, Kennedy said.

"She thought American history was boring because there weren't enough women in it; I'm glad she changed that...and made possible the world we live in today," she said.

The compilation contains seven conversations between a young widow and a Pulitzer-prize winning historian. It has received rave reviews on the national stage.

“It’s one of the most remarkable pieces of history I’ve ever read or been engaged with,” says Jon Stewart, host of the Daily Show, “It’s so human.” 

Kennedy continues her nationwide book tour in October and will be in Boston on Oct. 3, Chicago on Oct. 5, and New York on Oct. 13. 

Tuesday's event was hosted by The , in partnership with Cargill and , where the hardcover book and CD compilation sell for $60.

To watch a video clip of the standing ovation, press the play button on the video next to the photo of the Fox Theatre attached to this article.

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