In the summer of 1962, nineteen-year-old Mimi Beardsley arrived by train in Washington, D.C., to begin an internship in the White House press office. The Kennedy Administration had reinvigorated the capital and the country—and Mimi was eager to contribute. For a young woman from a privileged but sheltered upbringing, the job was the chance of a lifetime. Although she started as a lowly intern, Mimi made an impression on Kennedy’s inner circle and, after just three days at the White House, she was presented to the President himself.
Almost immediately, the two began an affair that would continue for the next eighteen months.
In an era when women in the workplace were still considered “girls,” Mimi was literally a girl herself—naïve, innocent, emotionally unprepared for the thrill that came when the President’s charisma and power were turned on her full-force. She was also unprepared for the feelings of isolation that would follow as she fell into the double life of a college student who was also the secret lover of the most powerful man in the world. Then, after the President’s tragic death in Dallas, she grieved in private, locked her secret away, and tried to start her life anew, only to find that her past would cast a long shadow—and ultimately destroy her relationship with the man she married.
In 2003, a Kennedy biographer mentioned “a tall, slender, beautiful nineteen-year-old college sophomore and White House intern, who worked in the press office” in reference to one of the President’s affairs. The disclosure set off a tabloid frenzy and soon exposed Mimi and the secret that she had kept for forty-one years. Because her past had been revealed in such a shocking, public way, she was forced, for the first time, to examine the choices she’d made. She came to understand that shutting down one part of her life so completely had closed her off from so much more.
No longer defined by silence or shame, Mimi Alford has finally unburdened herself with this searingly honest account of her life and her extremely private moments with a very public man. Once Upon a Secret offers a new and personal depiction of one of our most iconic leaders and a powerful, moving story of a woman coming to terms with her past and moving out of the shadows to reclaim the truth.
well written look into a long held secret...
By Campbell on Feb 09, 2012
The people bashing this book (especially those that haven't even read the book) merely b/c the author had the AUDACITY to tell her story need to get over themselves. Of COURSE this is truth. I believe every word of it. It is well documented that President Kennedy had scores of other women. It is also true that the author was outed by another author. John Kennedy was the most powerful man in the world. He was dashing and handsome and incredibly charismatic...all these things also well and endlessly documented. Why is it so hard to believe that a very young, incredibly naive and sheltered young woman would find herself in this situation. This was a different time. If the president wanted young girls in his bed, he had them. Nobody batted an eyelash. The legend of Camelot and the Kennedy clan make for wonderful stories but the truth is that John Kennedy was human. He was a man raised in an elite world in which he was groomed his entire life to become the president. He did whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. These young girls were at his disposal. Period. Trying to imagine being a 19 year old virgin with zero experience with men, being led to a bed by president Kennedy makes ME speechless. Yes she could have said no. She could have walked away...in theory. Yet his power over her was just as strong as any force on this planet. It would take a very mature and strong 19 year old to tell the president to back off. NOBODY said no to Kennedy. Not even grown men and certainly not young girls. The author of this book isn't painting him as someone who assaulted her. She is being very honest about being swept up and away by the situation and the momentum of the man and his incredible presence and charisma. I think she is brave to tell her story. Listen if you want to, or don't listen, but don't call her a liar just b/c you don't like the way truth grates against the fairy tale in your head.
thump on the head to Barbara Walters of THE VIEW
By Tink-the-cat on Feb 10, 2012
The insaneness of the ladies of The View made me order this - Barbara Walters and Whoopie Goldberg in essence scolded this woman for writing this book, asking this woman if she had thought about Caroline Kennedy's feelings??!! I was STUNNED!! WHo cares about Caroline Kennedy! Did Jack Kennedy ever think about his own actions - did he think about what he was doing to an impressionable teenager? Did he think about HIS LEGACY and his grandchildren?? SHAME ON YOU BARBARA - but I guess you'll still get invited the Caroline's hoUse to dinner because you did try!!! SHAME ON YOU WHOOPIE - you should have empathy towards someone who was taken advantage of......you're both hypocrites - which is why I am buying this book - I hope this woman makes millions - and that other young women read it - perhaps they will think twice when being manipulated not only by powerful men - but by old ladies who should know better - TWO THUMPS ON THE HEAD - ONE FOR WHOOPIE AND ONE FOR BARBARA!!
Believeable And Depressing
By G.i Gurdjieff on Feb 09, 2012
This book tells the story of Mimi Beardsley Alford, who as a 19 year old White House intern, had a sexual relationship with President Kennedy for an approximate 18 month period from June, 1962 to November, 1963. A relatively short book, it provides information about Alford's family background, her education, her affair with JFK,the fallout that came from keeping the relationship secret and then having it outed 40+ years later. While the veracity of her claims have come under a lot of scrutiny, I tend to think that she is telling the truth. I also get it in regard to how a young woman can get hoodwinked into a sordid affair with a powerful man. What I don't get is why this very short book was written. I saw Alford on a 60 minute television interview with Meredith Viera tonight after I finished this book. Truthfully, the interview basically covered the main points covered in the book. While on tv and in this book Alford remembers JFK with fondness, I thought JFK came off badly and at times really quite perverse. It was very obvious that Alford was one of many women that JFK used for sex. Speaking of her personal experiences with the president, Alford was blunt but not overtly graphic. Mostly she talked about the sexual liasons in the White House and on the road, playing what she called the "waiting game" which consisted of being sequestered in a hotel room(to avoid detection) until JFK had time for sex. She also had a pregnancy scare which turned out to be a false alarm, though first friend Dave Powers flew into action and managed to provide her with the phone number of an abortionist. Apparently the realities of her situation didn't shake up Alford enough as the relationship with Kennedy sputtered on for another year. I guess as a woman in 2012, a lot of Alford's youthful reasoning regarding this relationship when it was going on sounds ludicrous. However, if you put it into perspective of the way a young woman might have thought in 1963 it probably seems more plausible. That Alford appears to have been extremely naive adds to that credibility. When all this was going on, she appears to have given little thought to the entire thing except to maintain the veil of secrecy that was in place to protect Kennedy. The best way I can describe the whole thing is that Mimi was extremely naive and was victimized on a lot of levels. Interestingly enough, while all of this was going on it was an open secret to employees of the White House and the press who well aware of the president's activities. Kennedy wasn't concerned with subtlety on most levels and was unbelievably arrogant as many people in a position of power can be. Does Kennedy's legend take another blow with this book? Probably not. This sort of thing has been out in print for years, but it seems like this is just another dent in his armor. He comes across even creepier than I imagined, but that's just my opinion. In the end, I didn't dislike this book but it left me feeling bad that her youthful errors in judgement had long lasting and unhappy ramifications that haunted her for so much of her adult life. It also left me with a lot of questions that Alford concedes she cannot answer because she never thought about them at the time. In the end, reading this book will get people talking and may alter the public perception of what kind of person JFK was.
Honest and Disturbing
By Researcher on Feb 10, 2012
I stayed up last night into the wee hours reading this book. I believe every single word of it. I have absolutely no sympathy for the chorus that is singing "What will Caroline think?" HER father should have thought of that....not Mimi. Having been a young girl once upon a time in Washington, D.C., I can understand exactly how Mimi got caught up in things. She was no match for her predator. Do I believe that this impacted her marriage and future happiness? Yessssss. Do I appreciate her honesty and candor and courage for writing the book? Yessssss. Do I hope that her honest effort to accurately tell her side of a story makes her wealthy? Yesssss. I have absolutely no patience for the chorus who are chirping that this is made of whole cloth because JFK is dead. There is PLENTY of corroborative evidence. Congrats, Mimi. Thanks for your courage. Once again, for those critics who accuse Mimi of making this up, do a little research before you spout off.
By J. King on Feb 08, 2012
I really enjoyed this book. I pre-purchased it and opened it on Kindle lastnight. I read most of it lastnight and then just finished it today. It was hard to put down, not because of juicy details but for the real feelings she shares and the interesting way she dissects herself and her own feelings. I loved her real time analysis of herself back then and herself while married to Tony and then as a woman who finally found her voice. I really loved reading her entire description of what it was like, what she went through, how she felt. I cried when she talked about how she felt when JFK was killed. I would definitely recommend this book.
By Mom on Feb 10, 2012
I didn't watch it but I read Mimi was attacked by Barbara Walters while a guest on The View. Babs as well as others wanted to know.....Why write the book now? Won't this hurt his family? Like his family didn't know JFK was a hound dog? This book is much more than a tell all sex book that some want it to be. This is a book about a young gal at age .....NINETEEN folks!.....who was swept away by the president's pimp who guided her into the web of a man, our President. This book is about how secrets will eat at you and I for one know that to be true. This book is about a president who has been put on a pedestal for decades....whose Camelot life many want to replicate. Oh Really? Still want to? Read this book and it will be the straw. Marilyn Monroe? Ok. But a 19 year old whose frontal lobe hasn't connected and won't for a couple of more years!.....has not reached the stage of where one truly realizes choices do have consequences. Mimi is not the manipulator....she was manipulated......overcome by the most powerful man in the world. She kept her secret until outed just a few years ago. She wants to tell her side of the story. She wants to set the record straight. She's completely honest.....only to be judged by Barbara Walters?! Don't you just love it when the media puts down the people they exploit for their own fame.....how has Babs become famous?!....manipulation! What gaul! I recommend every young gal read this book.....to be armed with the lessons of Mimi so every young gal will not make the same mistake and not believe they are someone special if someone in power takes them under their wing only to abuse their trust and innocence. Yes, it's extremely rare that a President will abuse his power in such a way....well, Monica could take issue....... but it could be a teacher, a boss, a coach, etc. Mimi, thank you for your bravery. I was thrilled to read the ending and how your life is now. Good for you.
A different time
By E. Lewis on Feb 08, 2012
I preordered and opened it up on my Kindle this morning. It's hard to put down maybe because this is my timeframe. I think it must have been hard for the author to write. She shows a lot of insight into her thinking at the time and the culture of that privileged subset of the population in the '60's. I doubt that she's doing it for the money. More of a catharsis I imagine. I do feel sorry for Caroline Kennedy however. Must be hard to read these things about your father. Marilyn Monroe is one thing. Seducing a 19 year old virgin in your wife's bedroom is something else.
FOR EVERY GIRL
By Deeann Hoff on Feb 10, 2012
This is a book for EVERY GIRL . . . I share that 19 year old era with Mimi . . . I share the Invisibility, the strict morals, and the naivete of that period. More importantly and of greatest impact, I shared the aftermanth of keeping a SECRET for 40 years. While my SECRET was not the same . . . it was as familially and personally pivotal and emotionally crippling. At age 64 have only just revealed it to my own daughter. While Mimi relates the details of her 'relationship' with sensitivity and grace . . . this book is not about sex . . . it is about the - persepective of the 19-year-old SELF and the unpreparedness to both perceive and cope with situations of fascination & power involving men. This volume is about AFTERMATH . . . of trauma and its Survivability. How tragically superficial to have it viewed and reviewed through the narrow lense of sensationalism. It is NOT about JFK it could have been any man in a position of authority and power in the life of a teenage girl. I extend to you, Mimi, my heartfelt and sincere APPRECIATION.
Incredible Story, Hard to put down
By Louis Panesi on Feb 10, 2012
It was hard to put this book down. I felt a lot of emotion reading the book. Shock, disgust, sadness, sympathy. You will never look at JFK the same again. Although you can plainly see that he was a predator and what he did was disgusting, in the end you feel sadness for her and for him. In my opinion it was partly a love story. I really believe that JFK did care about her. I hope that she does not blame herself because there are not many young women her age (19) that could have resisted the President. This is truly an amazing story. I am sad that the author had to keep this a secret for so long. She is not a terrible person for writing this. I feel that she did not embellish anything.