For over twenty years Robert Littell was John F. Kennedy Jr.'s closest confidant. Now, in a beautiful and moving memoir, Littell introduces us to the private John. A story of laughter and sorrow, joy and heartbreak, The Men We Became is an unforgettable memoir.
Rob Littell was a freshman at Brown when he met the young JFK, Jr. during orientation week. Although Littell came from a privileged background, it was worlds apart from the glamorous life of the son of the late President and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Eager to be accepted on his own terms, Kennedy admired Littell's irreverence toward his celebrity and they became close friends.
John opened up to Littell on a very personal level, revealing the complex and sometimes tense nature of his relationships with his sister and cousins, as well as his mother's extraordinary influence on John - and how they both worked to keep it from being overbearing. John's marriage had its ups and downs and Carolyn had made enemies of some of his friends, but she was in great shape mentally and physically and they were planning to have children.
Littell recounts wonderful dinners at Jacqueline Onassis's apartment where she surprised him with his favorite dinner of specially burned hamburgers and weekends at her retreat in Martha's Vineyard where she critiqued their touch football while lying on a chaise lounge, her face covered in cold cream and cucumber slices. As students, Littell and Kennedy bummed around Europe. They slept in Hyde Park, sampled the pleasures of Amsterdam, ran afoul of customs officers and almost got busted at the Ritz Hotel for smoking pot. They even shared apartments in New York City until Jackie summoned them to dinner one day and gently suggested it was time to grow up. The two went on to pursue their professional lives. John trained as a lawyer - and Littell speaks of his friend's anguish at repeatedly failing the bar - and then he founded his own political magazine, which seemed only fitting because Kennedy yearned to live up to the family name and accepted that politics would be his destiny. Later on, Littell was a part of JFK, Jr.'s secret wedding to Carolyn Bessette on Cumberland Island, Georgia, and three years later a pallbearer at his funeral.
From shared adventures, private moments and lasting memories, Robert Littell offers a unique look at John F. Kennedy Jr.'s life - one that has never been seen before.
Of all of the banter recounted in this extended eulogy to his late friend, the most germane conversation comes when the author recalls his friend John F. Kennedy Jr. reading Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye, Ken O'Donnell and Mike Powers's memoir of the late president John F. Kennedy. The author writes, " even suggested that I'd be writing about him one day." That quote almost serves as an ethical balm for the reader concerned that JFK Jr.'s life has been written about and exploited by so many. Though far from an autobiographical masterpiece, this book offers Kennedy voyeurs an exciting dose of nostalgia. Littell's account is adoring but not hagiographic. While most of the anecdotes involve the mundane stuff of male friendship, Littell acknowledges certain not-so-shocking facts distorted in the tabloids, such as John's seeking therapy after failing the bar exam for the second time, his occasional use of marijuana, his vanity and his marital difficulties. Littell's narrative is also a commentary on fame and how fame affects all who are touched by it. Littell claims that John trusted him not because Littell worshiped his celebrity, but because he didn't: they became "closer each time pushed public self away." In one telling episode, Littell plops himself down beside Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis after making a joke about John and his friends, and she gaily chides him, "I so love your irreverence." That irreverence is on full display in this sweet, heartfelt panegyric, which will undoubtedly be snapped up by readers of Laurence Leamer's Sons of Camelot. 35 b&w photos not seen by PW. First serial to Redbook.