[777]: America’s Reluctant Prince by Steven M. Gillon

The summer of 1999 was the first time I’ve become aware of the impact the Kennedys have in America and the world as a whole. Tragically, it was because John perished in the sea with his wife, Carolyn and her sister, Lauren.

America’s Reluctant Price brought that feeling of loss back to the surface all over again. At the time, it felt like an incredible weight sat on my chest. And it was because of a squandered opportunity to know a great person when they were still alive. The loss felt greater somehow. It was like losing a person before you even get to know them. It left me feeling hollow.

Before I read this book, I can count on one hand all the things I know about John F. Kennedy, Jr:

  • He was a Kennedy.
  • He lived a charmed life.
  • He was handsome and magnetic.
  • He would’ve made his parents proud.
  • Had he lived, we would’ve perhaps change the course of America’s political landscape and made a great impact on the world.

But with every page, this book offered an insight that was every bit shocking, tragic, and beautiful at the same time.

John’s life was far from charmed. He was a mediocre student who barely scraped by. He was surrounded by people who were hypnotized by his presence and his name. Most of the time, he didn’t know who was real. Posthumously, he still fascinated the world.

But here, we see the real truth behind the handsome face — behind the charmed life. The truth was, he was burdened by the legacy of his name. Constantly afraid that he would never be good enough. I suppose it would be akin to having Michael Jordan as your father. That no matter what you do in life, the legacy will follow you around, and you will never measure up.

He was a devoted son who also did his best to be a good husband. but Carolyn could not cope with the same burden that John carried. Hounded by the paparazzi, she became a recluse. She ended up hating being married to someone whose birthright was in the same vein as royalty.

The truth is, John’s life was full of tragedy. Starting with his father who was assassinated in front of his mother. And it was almost befitting that his life would end tragically.

Most of the reviewers have commented that there’s nothing new about this biography. That if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all. As one of the thousands who will always be in awe of the Kennedys, I will never stop reading about this family. I will forever be thinking of what could’ve been, what kind of life he would’ve led, and how great the world would’ve been had we not lost him.

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