New Books About the Kennedy's Offer a Look into the Darker Sides of JFK and JFK Jr

Mimi Beardsley Alford as a White House intern -- and JFK's lover -- in 1963.
Mimi Beardsley Alford as a White House intern -- and JFK's lover -- in 1963.

New books about President John F. Kennedy and his son, John F. Kennedy Jr., are a study in contrasts. One is about sex, power, and politics; the other a look at a sweet and exhilarating romance. But both show how these powerful and iconic men flirted with danger, and how their love of risk-taking affected the people in their lives.

Mimi Beardsley Alford was a White House intern in 1962, just four days into her internship in the White House press office, she was invited to swim at the White House pool. According to her new book, her affair with John F. Kennedy began that night, when she lost her virginity to the President of the United States at the age of 19.

"I was in shock," she writes in "Once Upon A Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath." "He, on the other hand, was matter-of-fact, and acted as if what had just occurred was the most natural thing in the world."

The affair lasted 18 months, and though there were plenty of shared baths, clandestine trips, and the occasional overnight, Alford says that she always called him "Mr. President" -- and that the two never kissed.

"There was always a layer of reserve between us, which may explain why we never kissed," she writes. "The wide gulf between us - the age, the power, the experience - guaranteed that our affair wouldn't evolve into anything more serious."

In excerpts published in The New York Post, Alford -- now a 69-year-old grandmother and a former New York City church administrator -- recounts the relationship in sordid detail.

"The fact that I was being desired by the most famous and powerful man in America only amplified my feelings to the point where resistance was out of the question," she writes. "That's why I didn't say no to the president. It's the best answer I can give."

The book covers more than just the presidents' sexual escapades, however. Alford describes a visit to Washington during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the president told her "I'd rather my children red than dead." And while Jackie Kennedy was recovering in Cape Cod after the death of their baby son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, the President was in Washington, D.C., reading condolence letters out loud to Alford.

The last time she met JFK, Alford was about to be married to her college sweetheart, Tony Fahnestock. It was November 15, 1963, just a week before JFK was assassinated in Dallas. She writes:

"He took me in his arms for a long embrace and said, 'I wish you were coming with me to Texas.' And then he added, 'I'll call you when I get back.' I was overcome with sudden sadness. 'Remember, Mr. President, I'm getting married.'

" 'I know that,' he said, and shrugged. 'But I'll call you anyway.' "

While Alford's book offers a look at the darker side of the father, Haag brings out the brighter side of his son, her first love, John F. Kennedy Jr.

In "Come to the Edge: A Love Story," she recalls idyllic days hanging out with her buddy "Kennedy" from her Manhattan prep school and, later, exotic trips filled with romance and tantric sex.

But, like his father, JFK Jr. had a love of risk and adventure. "I know now we were in shock," she wrote in an excerpt published in Vanity Fair.. "I thought it was just me who was terrified, but then I saw John, my captain: John, who was never afraid. Unable to be still, he paced the beach muttering something, his eyes wide and to the ground. "Don't tell Mummy, don't tell Mummy," he repeated like a mantra to no one. Mummy wasn't there, and he wasn't talking to me."

"It was then that the danger we had been in really hit me. John was afraid," she continued. "I had never seen him like this-not skiing down a run in a whiteout in Jackson Hole or nearly colliding with a gray whale in Baja. There was an exhilaration about him, a high. He was almost smiling. Then he noticed that his hand was shaking. He held it out to show me, and we marveled that it continued to shake for the next 15 minutes."

It seems like foreshadowing: Ever the risk-taker, JFK Jr. died when the small plane he was piloting crashed near Martha's Vineyard in 1999.

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