Historical Notes: Sex & the Single Senator

In 1953, John F. Kennedy was a handsome, wealthy freshman Senator—and at 36, Washington's most eligible, elusive bachelor. In midsummer, after a six-month campaign for Jacqueline Bouvier's vote, Kennedy wrote to a wartime buddy: "I gave everything a good deal of thought, so am getting married this fall. This means the end of a promising political career, as it has been based up to now almost completely on the old sex appeal."

Hyperbole, of course, but it reflected the wry eye that J.F.K. characteristically turned on himself and his clan. The Kennedy candor comes through with engaging clarity in the...

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