Speaking just months after her husband's assassination, Jacqueline Kennedy looked back on her time with her husband in the White House as "our happiest years," the time that she and John F. Kennedy were closest, with an extraordinary personal and political partnership thriving during the high-pressure thousand days of the Kennedy presidency.
Those recollections were part of a series of conversations the widowed first lady recorded in early 1964, in oral history interviews that mark the most detailed and personal comments she ever made on the Kennedy White House years. The tapes were kept under seal by the Kennedy Library until this month.
ABC News' Diane Sawyer will host a prime-time, two-hour special based on the tapes tonight at 9 p.m. featuring exclusive, never-before-heard extended audio of Mrs. Kennedy's oral history, rare photographs, plus an exclusive interview with Caroline Kennedy, the child of Jacqueline and John Kennedy.
The audio and transcripts of the interviews, conducted by friend and longtime Kennedy aide Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., are being released in book form this month in "Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy."
The tapes are illuminating not just for the words but for how they're spoken, the distinctive, breathy voice – at times wistful, at times wickedly irreverent – revealing a new dimension of woman who carefully kept herself out of the public eye. With sounds of matches striking, ice cubes clinking, and even her children playing in the background, it's a rare snapshot into the life and private recollections of Jacqueline Kennedy.
The recordings also provide an intimate portrait of the Kennedy presidency at some of its most tense moments.
For more, visit http://abcnews.go.com/politics/Jacqueline_Kennedy.