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Second Best Thing

Marilyn, JFK, and a Night to Remember
Narrated by: Arthur Morey
Length: 1 hr and 12 mins
4 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

President John F. Kennedy. Marilyn Monroe. A probing nonfiction short story that reconstructs an enchanting night in history by the New York Times bestselling author of Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer.

On the night of May 19, 1962, the marquee of the old Madison Square Garden boasted: “BEST THING TODAY...JOHN F. KENNEDY / 2ND BEST THING...MARILYN MONROE.”

Few things illustrate the magnetism of the Kennedy era like Marilyn Monroe co-headlining the President's massive birthday fundraiser, and suggestively crooning "Happy Birthday." But only a privileged few know what happened months earlier, when the two icons spent a weekend at a private summit hosted by Bing Crosby, and later, after the New York extravaganza, at the top secret, invitation-only midnight affair at a millionaire's Manhattan town house.

For more than half a century, this exclusive, no-press-allowed after-party has been shrouded in rumor and myth. Lot 6191 in the 2010 auction of White House photographer Cecil Stoughton's archive - "Marilyn Monroe at JFK Party" - included twenty-three prints. Their negatives, marked in Stoughton's hand with "Sensitive material, Do not file," were seized by the National Archives. Among the collection: the sole existing photograph of Marilyn and the president. Spellbound by the intimacy of the image and the force of public imagination, bestselling historian James Swanson masterfully reconstructs the fabled soiree, bringing alive a night that history nearly left behind.

©2020 James L. Swanson (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What members say

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    4 out of 5 stars

A nice little essay about the events that happened

Pro tip: set the speed up higher so the narrator doesn't get tedious and boring.

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  • Rosemary
  • 06-03-2020

An interesting Disappointment

This is a bad title for any book. The author is a good researcher but there is no real story here. He claims new information about a mysterious photo of the evening party after JFK's birthday bash where a nearly naked Marilyn performed in Madison Square Garden, but there is no record of anything of interest happening at the after party and the photo he mentions is a dud. It could be a M.M. -JFK discussion of the stock market for all we know. Alot fuss about nothing followed by a plea from the author for more material on this occurrence. Four cards don't make a flush and that's what we have here.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-04-2020

Amazing, so interesting.

Following it up with "Mrs Kennedy and Me" to get another perspective on Kennedy family!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Stephanie Rogers
  • 01-03-2020

"Happy Birthday Mr. President"!

The narrator made me feel like I was standing in the wings at Madison Square Garden just before Ms. Monroe took the stage, AND took me to an after-party as a bonus! It was a peek behind the curtain of a time when the political and entertainment worlds were more energetically linked. All that, and Mr. President JFK too, made for an intriguing story. (Would love to know if those negatives are ever found, though!)

1 person found this helpful

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  • April pando
  • 27-02-2020

it was great

i love the narrator. she's amazing and big reason i picked this book. the story was a great listen. takes a minute to get started, but when it does its very gripping.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • happyjo
  • 07-05-2020

Second best thing

I loved learning more about Marilyn Monroe and JFK. This was an interesting and enjoyable short documentary.

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  • Pam H.
  • 25-04-2020

Not what I expected. Very disappointing.

Touted as a revealing recount of one night in history and the relationship between Marilyn Monroe and JFK, but really an attempt by the author to compile a complete guest list, including identification of and recollections of those photographed at the exclusive after party on the night Marilyn sang happy birthday to JFK.

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  • Alien Life Form
  • 25-04-2020

Big tease, but that night remains a mystery

The narration is a bit on the "droning" side, but the subject matter is so interesting, it poses no problem.

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  • Kenrothson
  • 19-04-2020

Very interesting

Second Best Thing is a very informative and interesting take on a night shrouded in mystery and scandal over the years.

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  • Maggie May
  • 16-04-2020

miss pics

only thing wrong with audible is not being able to see photos in the book

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  • Montzalee W
  • 12-04-2020

Very interesting about JFK & Marilyn!

Second Best Thing
Marilyn, JFK, and a Night to Remember
By: James L. Swanson
This is a short story about missing photos from a secret party with JFK and Marilyn Monroe! The photos were from the only person JFK would allow to take pictures there, Cecil Stoughton. The author is a historian and describes how he was able to get some of these photos. Very interesting!
I am a Marilyn and history geek so I really enjoyed it.

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  • Alan Masson
  • 14-05-2020

Hopes too high

Had high hopes for this, Arthur is an outstanding narrator, and this moment in history is of a golden age in Camelot that seems almost seared apon the cultural consciousness.
But though some of the description is admirable, I was awaiting revelations that never came, and therefore left somewhat disappointed.

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  • Teresa.
  • 16-04-2020

Not bad

Thankfully not a salacious story. Interesting about the photos and negatives, but wasn't told in a more, personal interesting way

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  • Daniel Delahoyde
  • 02-04-2020

An Enjoyable, Short and Easy Listen

I enjoyed this short story about JFK, his famous birthday celebration and the private party after. The writer describes the star studded gala event, Marilyn Monroes' performance and John F. Kennedys' public and private persona, putting it it all in context with the mood and mores of the times. There's historical fact, mixed with biographical detail, as well as ample amounts of the gossip, glitz and glamour. It's all done with great style, I was taken back to a bygone era, on a journey I thoroughly enjoyed.
The best part of this Audible audio book is, without doubt, the narrators performance. The narrator sounds American, his tone and accent, make his voice a pleasure to listen to. In addition, his understated journalistic style, is perfect for this subject matter, as is his more mature timbre.
Altogether an enjoyable short listen for quiet afternoon.