Tag Archives: John F. Kennedy

BOOK REVIEW: Happy Times by Princess Lee Bouvier Radziwill (168 pages) by Gregory Hilton

The author is the younger sister of the late First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and she witnessed many key events during JFK’s presidency and his rise to power. The Bouvier sisters were the epitome of taste, style and elegance in the 1960s and ’70s. Despite reports of a rivalry, they were each others most trusted confidants.
They were beautiful, smart, superbly dressed, and lived privileged lives in beautiful places. They also encountered tragic and unbelievably sad events, but you will not read about them in this book. It is a brief and pleasant memoir and is primarily about the 1960s.
“Happy Times” is a coffee table scrapbook which reveals a limited amount about her life story. The author acknowledges this is not a definitive biography and many important chapters in her life have been omitted. The Princess focuses on good times and vacations, and does not mention the assassination of her famous brother-in-law, the untimely death of her son, the strained relationship with her mother, or the divorce of her parents.
She first wed at the age of 20 and the marriage lasted for six years before being annulled. Her second marriage to Prince Stanisław Radziwiłł lasted 15 years. He was from a Polish noble family, and his mother died in a Soviet labor camp during WW II.
In 1979, Radziwill became engaged to Newton Cope, the owner of the Huntington Hotel on San Francisco’s Nob Hill. The marriage was called off five minutes before the wedding ceremony was to begin. The groom would not sign a prenuptial agreement which stipulated a $15,000/month payment to the bride. Her third marriage to director Herbert Ross in 1988 ended in divorce shortly before he died in 2001.
In the summer of 1999, her nephew John F. Kennedy, Jr, 38, was killed in a plane crash and three weeks later, her son Tony, 40, died of testicular cancer. The story of that painful summer is best told by her daughter in law, Carole Radziwill, in the New York Times best seller, “What Remains.”
The tragedies are known to all, but she reveals the love and compassion behind the scenes. Radziwill has a remarkable ability to be positive in the face of adversity. Her message is to focus on the good, not the sad. She believes it is best to move on and keep going.
There are no political statements or negative feelings in this book. Her ex-husbands and famous boyfriends would all approve of the text. A typical example is when she describes a fun filled friendship with author Truman Capote. They attended dozens of parties as a couple, but she omits their major falling out in his final years.
This is an easy read, and it is full of pictures of smiling celebrities from her remarkable life. They include Diana Vreeland, Rudolf Nureyev, Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, Leslie Caron, Peter Beard, Richard Meier and Aristotle Onassis. The photos from her private collection alone are worth the book’s price. You will understand why the sisters were regarded as American royalty, and you note many of the people in their circle were taken prematurely.
Both sisters were incredibly thin, and to curb her appetite, Jackie was a secret chain smoker. She died at the age of 64 from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which was probably related to smoking. The sisters were especially close to Jean Kennedy Smith and her husband Stephen Smith. She was JFK’s youngest sister, and he was a longtime smoker who died after a brief battle with lung cancer at the age of 62. Prince Radziwiłł also died of lung cancer at the age of 62.
“Happy Times” is the complete opposite of the many derogatory comments found in Diana Dubois’ “In Her Sister’s Shadow: An Intimate Biography of Lee Radziwill.” If you like Lee Radziwill, then this book will be enjoyable. If you want to read about extramarital affairs that happened 50 years ago and harsh criticism of her, than the Dubois book is for you.

The Missile and Bomber Gaps: The Grand Deceptions of the 1960 Presidential Campaign by Gregory Hilton

Today in 1961 President Dwight Eisenhower gave his farewell address. The best known portion is when the departing President warned “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” Continue reading

Holy Week and the Importance of Religious Tolerance by Gregory Hilton

Passover, Good Friday and Easter all Occur During Holy Week

Passover, Good Friday and Easter all Occur During Holy Week


The eternal message of Holy Week is conquering sin, death and evil, and Easter is my favorite service of the year. Easter is about our lives today, and its message is especially relevant for those who are encountering difficulties. This victory over death promises us a personal resurrection and eternal life.
I am from New York and many of my friends and colleagues are Jewish. They are correct in reminding me that Jesus was born into a Jewish family, he grew up as a Jewish boy, he worked as a Jewish young man, all of his teachings imply a Jewish setting and worldview, and he went to the Cross to be the Messiah of the Jewish people, as well as the “Lamb of God” who “takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). We Christians joyously recognize that our Savior was Jewish.
I would also like to address the Muslim community. It is important to discuss Holy Week in light of many recent statements demonstrating religious intolerance. There are over 1 billion Muslims in the world. I agree with former President George W. Bush who described Islam as “a faith based upon peace, love and compassion.” He said it is a religion committed to “morality, learning and tolerance.” I believe the passages from Koran in this video are taken out of context.
The Koran says “Even if you stretch out your hand to kill me, I shall not stretch out my hand to kill you.” Islam comes from the root word ‘salaam’, which means peace. The suicide bombers are bad Muslims. Suicide for any purpose is prohibited in Islam, and so is killing innocent people.
I do not have a religious test for the President and I am not making any judgments based upon his middle name. Obama critics are falsely claiming the President is a Muslim. They say: “Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim name. If it walks, talks, looks, smells and feels like a duck, it’s a duck.”
It is important to be tolerant of all religions, and John F. Kennedy addressed this when he spoke to Protestant ministers in Texas in the fall of 1960:
“Because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured. . . I today visited the Alamo. For side by side with Bowie and Crockett died Fuentes, McCafferty, Bailey, Badillo and Carey — but no one knows whether they were Catholics or not. For there was no religious test there. . . Do not judge me on the basis of publications that carefully select quotations out of context from the statements of church leaders, usually in other countries, frequently in other centuries, and rarely relevant to any situation here.”
JFK also has a Passover/Easter message for all of us. It is the last line of his Inaugural Address, and it is engraved in marble at his Arlington tomb: “With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”