Sunday, December 18, 2011

From 1966: Author Chased By Summons

The following article is from exactly 45 years ago today, published on December 18th, 1966. It was written by Joe Debona.

William Manchester was a Wesleyan history professor. He was commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy to write what she hoped would be the definitive account of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The agreement gave both Jacqueline and Robert Kennedy the right to approve the book's contents, and provided that most of the royalties would accrue to the Kennedy Library.

William Manchester, author of "Death of A President," is caught right smack in the middle of a spirited controversy sparked by the attempt of Mrs. John F. Kennedy to block publication of the book.

But Manchester's wife is accepting it with equanimity.

She said Saturday night she is not particularly disturbed by the uproar raging from her quiet home here to New York, to Washington and clear across the nation.

"Of course the phone is ringing pretty constantly," she conceded, "and this can be a little nerve-wracking at times with all the reporters attempting to reach Bill. But I can't say it particularly bothers me," she laughed.

Is Confident
Mrs. Manchester also stressed she has "confidence" in her husbands book, which deals with the assassination in Dallas of President Kennedy and the events that followed that tragedy.

Mrs. Kennedy, taking the position Manchester's alleged use of interviews with her would cause her "great and irreparable injury," has resorted to court action in her try at stopping publication.

Mrs. Manchester, apparently in high good humor Saturday night, said in response to a reporter's question that her husband was out of town and could not be reached.

"Is he going to make a statement?" she was asked.

Mrs. Manchester laughed again.

"You know as much about it as I do." she said.

She noted that not only newspaper reporters are striving without much success to get in touch with her husband.

Thursday night, Mrs. Manchester said, a team of cameramen from a television network rolled up to the house--looking, of course, for her husband, who wasn't there.

Cooperate With Press

"So they took pictures of the front of the house," laughed Mrs. Manchester. "After all, they're all nice people and only trying to do their job."

The Courant reporter had a good suggestion for the Manchesters.

"If I were your husband, I'd take my money, pack up the family and take off to the Riviera for a long vacation in the sun." he said.

Manchester reportedly received $665,000 from Look magazine for a serialized condensation, scheduled to start hitting the stands next month.

Mrs. Manchester just laughed again at that one.

But in response to another query, she said in a serious tone, she has read the controversial 350,000-word book, which is slated to be published in hardcover in April by Harper & Row at $10 per copy.

Mrs. Manchester also indicated she wishes a lot of other people critical of the book had also read it.

"I have confidence in Bill's book," said Mrs. Manchester. "I'm as sorry as he that all this had to happen, but feel the uproar will subside once the book is published and readers judge it exlusively on its contents and merits."
Manchester ultimately reached an out of court settlement with Jacqueline Kennedy, and agreed to cut 7 pages (out of 654) from his book. "Death of a President" was published in the spring of 1967 and was a best seller, earning over $1M for the Kennedy library by 1970.


Anonymous said...

I love where it says "Complete and Unabridged".

Madam Nirvana (Molly Salafia) said...

Interesting article!