Once Upon A Secret: The Book Worth Reading

onceLast week, I stumbled on a book by accident at a Dollar Tree store in Kentwood, Michigan. After picking up my kids from school, I was expecting to go home and relax with the family in an unfriendly winter season punctuated with freezing temperatures. But that was never the case. Kids being who they are: always demanding and adamant on what their heart desire. “Daddy, each of us needs to bring a book for a present tomorrow,” said my 8-year-old 2nd grade girl. I asked why I wasn’t told in advance. “Daddy, it’s my fault but have a look at the note from my teacher,” she said. What more choice do I have other than driving all three of them to the store where my time would be eaten up.

My eldest son is a book worm by nature; he cannot pass anything written without peeping through it, a culture he has inherited from me. He did not need a book for present but was quick to visit the book aisle and soon grabbed three novels. I followed him and also got my share of the books. One of the books turns out to be Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy. Authored by a former White House intern in February 2012, Once Upon a Secret catalogued Mimi Alford’s 18 months secret affair with the 34th President of the United States.

My hunger to understand how the affair began was soon in motion: who did what, why it was not leaked by the media and how Mimi kept the story for nearly 50 years until basic details were published in the 2003 Kennedy biography An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963 by Robert Dallek.

It is one of those books that is hard to put down once you start flipping its pages. In essence, every chapter gives an interesting piece of evidence and rich lifestyle. How Mimi was able to give such a moving story and how she came to terms with her past and moved out of the shadows to reclaim the truth is quite interesting.

Another puzzle of the book was how the virgin Alford was completely swept away by Kennedy. The duo went to bed just four days into her White House Press Office intern service, and continued the relations even after the internship ended. Mimi said President Kennedy’s ability to build walls, compartmentalise them, making sure that no one ever knows him completely kept her affair secret from even the Criminal Investigation Agents.

Where was Jacqueline Kenndy in the midst of President Kenndy’s affairs is one’s guest? Mimi answered all that in Once Upon a Secret where she revealed her struggles to overcome the occasional disingenuous nature of her treatment by the president whose assassination left an unhealed wound on her soul. But the biggest take on her is the guilt she later felt about the inescapable part she and Kennedy played in each other’s life.

Mimi Alford, who currently lives in Massachusetts with her second husband, depicts her unhappy first marriage and what she called the “emptiness of it.” She regretted why she allowed “silence to enter her marriage and grew and never left.” Her biggest challenge had been how to peel off the biggest layer of her secret affair with President Kennedy.

But the greatest surprise of all is Mimi Alford’s willingness to do again what she had done, given the same circumstances.  Once Upon a Secret, a must-read book, is worth more than a dollar. It will widen your horizon and answer so many whys you might be struggling with. If you want to know how power – absolute power – corrupts, read Once Upon a Secret.



  1. Luntango Suun Gann Gi

    Oh Dear, the documented history tells us that the Kennedy brothers were dogs on heat where women were concerned.
    As for “Slept with President” opportunistic interns America is full of them.
    Merry Christmas everyone – and think of Mariama rather than this harlot!

  2. What an interesting book! I definitely want to read it. Thanks Musa for this.

  3. Glamorising infidelity. …! Not worth the paper it’s written on, unless……
    And definitely not for me.

    Merry Christmas (to all) and a Happy New Year. .

  4. It is not about glamourising infidelity but understanding how and why they happened. Every story provides a lesson that people have to learn from. What are the lessons in this particular story.

  5. Bax is an indotrinated conservative. Come on, you want to say that Kairo must not entertain what is of public interest. I beg to defer totally. I read this book soon after it came out. Some of its chapters relate directly to me. That does not mean I cheat.

  6. The likes of Bax believe in democracy that suit their beliefs. A disappointment for a PDOIS fanatic.

  7. The problem is about the betrayal of public trust by people elected into highest office. Sadly, these people abuse their power to abuse powerless women who become corrupted and intoxicated in the end.

  8. Luntango Suun Gaan Gi

    Kaddy, “powerless women” who keep a President’s Sperm Drop for years??? Manipulative NONSENSE! This woman is using the tale of a One-Night Stand to make millions. Gold-Digger I say!!! Thanks Bax, that is why we are In-Laws!

  9. @ Malang Njie…..”The likes of Bax believe in democracy that suit their beliefs…….

    A disappointment for a PDOIS fanatic.”

    Comment…I will disregard your “PDOIS fanatic” jibe, but what exactly do you mean by “democracy that suits their (my) beliefs…?”

  10. @ Baboucar Samba .. (1) “Bax is an indotrinated conservative….”

    Comment…Excuse my ignorance, but what is this supposed to mean..? And indoctrinated in “Conservatism” by who..?

    (2) “Come on, you want to say that Kairo must not entertain what is of public interest.”

    Comment…I did not say that at all…Perhaps, you should have sought clarification before you misrepresent what I stated….

    What I meant was that if a woman, who knowingly cheated with a married man (regardless of his position), published a book about their immoral acts of infidelity, then that to me, would constitute “glamorising infidelity”…I am not saying that Kairo is glamorising infidelity or that the story should not be carried by the paper..

    I agree entirely with Kaddy Jabang that the issue is about the “betrayal of public trust” by elected officials and thus, may be a matter of public interest…

    I also agree, to a certain extent, with Anta Diop that understanding the “how’s” and “why’s” may be essential to the public, but I doubt very much that such questions would sincerely and wholly be answered/understood from the one sided narrative of an active participant in this betrayal of trust…

    I think such questions are best answered through impartial official enquiries, rather than the “biased” narrative of a party to the affair..

    And until I see a convincing argument, I will stand by my views…

  11. Luntango Suun Gann Gi

    @Bax: “I agree with Kaddy entirely”. Come on my in-law, I thought we were in a United Front to face Dictator Kaddy together! I see that you will not support me until you have the top spot to fashion the argument your way. I mention not – – – – –