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Although next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F Kennedy, the ‘American royal family’ continues to fascinate the world. Now, the definitive collection of Mark Shaw’s renowned photographs of the Kennedys has been released, offering a unique glimpse behind the scenes of the legendary First Family.

Who were the Kennedys, the people behind the legend? The answer might be found in the expanded new version of Mark Shaw’s classic 1964 work, ‘The John F. Kennedys: A Family Album’. More than half the images in the large-format book have never been seen before, and are said to be the finest-ever reproductions of Shaw’s work. For the very first time, complete access was granted to the Mark Shaw Photographic Archive so that the rare, personal and private moments of the remarkable family could be made available to the public.

Mark Shaw - the unofficial photographer and friend of the Kennedys - captured them on film at their most relaxed: images of a carefree, barefooted Jacqueline, laughing and playing on the beach or in the house with her children; the campaign trail; the President relaxing at home with friends and entertaining at the White House.

Also included in the collection is JFK’s favourite shot of himself: walking alone on the dunes at Hyannis Port. Finally, a poignant conclusion is the photograph of the riderless horse and the fallen leader’s reversed riding boots - a visual expression of the triumph and tragedy of the Kennedys, and an image likely to remain with the reader long after the last page has been turned.

The Kennedys’ is a captivating and unstaged portrait of America’s most loved First Family, capturing the glitter and glamour, as well as the affectionate personal moments. There is no sign of the fighting and infidelities that apparently troubled the perfect marriage of the world’s most famous couple, nor of the series of tragedies which were to follow. 

Classic Driver

07 Sep, 2012

Laura Leivo