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One of The New Yorker’s Best Books of 2023
“One of the most detailed, nuanced portraits of Jackie to date.” —The Washington Post
An illuminating and “wholly refreshing” (David Maraniss, New York Times bestselling author) biography of the young Jackie Bouvier Kennedy that covers her formative adventures abroad in Paris; her life as a writer and photographer in Washington, DC; and her romance with a dashing, charismatic Massachusetts congressman who shared her intellectual passion.
Camera Girl “shines with wit and intelligence” (Library Journal, starred review) as it brings to life Jackie’s years as a young, single woman trying to figure out who she wanted to become. Chafing at the expectations of her family and the societal limitations placed on women in that era, Jackie pursued her dream career as a writer. Set primarily during the years of 1949 to 1953, when Jackie was in her early twenties, the book recounts in heretofore unrevealed detail the story of her late college years and her early adulthood as a working woman.
Before she met John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Bouvier was the Washington Times-Herald’s “Inquiring Camera Girl,” posing compelling questions to members of the public on the streets of DC and snapping their photos with her unwieldy Graflex camera. She then fashioned the results into a daily column, of which six hundred were published.
Carl Sferrazza Anthony, a historian and leading expert on First Ladies, draws on these columns and previously unseen archives of Jackie’s writings from this time, along with insights gleaned from interviews he conducted with her friends, colleagues, and family members. Camera Girl offers a fresh perspective on the woman later known as Jacqueline Kennedy and Jackie O, introducing us to the headstrong, self-assured young woman who went on to be one of the world’s most famous people. “For anyone of any age, the Jackie in Camera Girl offers an example of intentional living” (Hillary Rodham Clinton).
About the Author
Carl Sferrazza Anthony is the author of a dozen books about presidents’ wives and families, including As We Remember Her: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the Words of Her Family and Friends; The Kennedy White House: Family Life and Pictures, 1961–1963; and the two-volume First Ladies: The Saga of the Presidents’ Wives and Their Power, 1789–1990. He has served as guest curator for presidential library exhibits, written for numerous national publications, and served as contributing editor to the late John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s George magazine.
“In Camera Girl, Carl Anthony slows down the story of Jacqueline Bouvier so that her complexity and wide range of interests can be grasped during the period of her life before marriage, political obligation, and tragedy—when she is forming a distinct sense of what role she hopes to someday play in the larger world. From designing her red ‘Bouvier cape,’ to her descriptive letters of new cultures and shrewd assessments of individuals, to her cartooning skills, to translating and analyzing French diplomatic and military texts about Indochina, we see Jackie in her fullness. For anyone of any age, the Jackie in Camera Girl offers an example of intentional living.”
—Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, #1 New York Times bestselling author of What Happened
“Carl Anthony has found a wholly refreshing way to look at one of the most gazed upon women in American history, while also revealing how essential Jackie Bouvier was to Jack Kennedy's intellectual and political development. Camera Girl is as delightful as it is insightful.”
—David Maraniss, New York Times bestselling author of Barack Obama: The Story
“In this charming portrait, Carl Anthony traces the genesis of Jacqueline Kennedy's mesmerizing personality. Behind her privileged upbringing, Jackie coped with a dysfunctional family and cultivated an independent spirit as well as a questing intellect. In Anthony's telling, her determination to make her way on her own terms foreshadowed her groundbreaking role as First Lady.”
—Sally Bedell Smith, New York Times bestselling author of Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House
“A lively depiction of a young woman who relished every opportunity to regard the world from her own perspective.”
—The New Yorker, Best Books of 2023
"Whether she’s avoiding a traffic ticket after speeding in her car named Zelda, or translating books for Kennedy’s report on the history of France in Indochina, this portrait of young Jackie Bouvier shines with wit and intelligence."
—Library Journal, starred review
“Camera Girl offers one of the most detailed, nuanced portraits of Jackie to date."
—The Washington Post
“A convincing and colorful reconsideration of a first lady known more for her style than her substance . . . [Anthony] sheds intriguing light on Jackie’s stint as a columnist for the Washington Times-Herald, the engagement she called off prior to marrying JFK, and her volatile and occasionally violent relationship with her mother.”
“The Jacqueline Bouvier whom Carl Anthony brings to life in these deeply researched pages is a revelation. She is defiant, curious, independent—and a rule-breaker determined to chart a course that would make history take notice.”
—Karen Tumulty, author of The Triumph of Nancy Reagan
“Anthony uncovers the root of Jackie’s distinctive blend of rebelliousness and vulnerability, independence and insecurity that would attract and confound supporters and critics alike. By drawing on extensive interviews with Jackie’s contemporaries and family, oral histories, and presidential archives, Anthony delivers a well-rounded depiction of this eternally fascinating, covertly complicated, and perennially misunderstood historical and cultural icon.”
“What shaped Jackie Kennedy Onassis to become one of the most influential women of the 20th century? In this lively, dishy account, author Carl Anthony traces four formative years when she was Jacqueline Bouvier, negotiating her way into adulthood with a determination and an independence that belied the reserved mien she showed to the world. ‘Become distinct,’ she told herself. And so she did.”
—Susan Page, New York Times bestselling author of The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty
"Prior to her marriage to John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Bouvier was an ambitious journalist and photographer, a remarkable period of her life captured in this engaging coming-of-age biography . . . Drawing on Bouvier’s letters and interviews, Anthony pulls together a compelling portrait of a young woman facing both the problems of her time and timeless issues. Should she focus on her career or getting married? How can she be respectful to her problematic parents while still declaring her own adult independence? A well-crafted biography that could easily spawn both a delightful TV drama or a historical look at female journalists."
—Kirkus, starred review