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John F. Kennedy and Carolyn Bessette: New book makes stunning claims about their marriage

AOL.com Editors

A new book sheds light on John F. Kennedy, Jr. and wife Carolyn Bessette's marital struggles, claiming that JFK Jr. once punched a man that Bessette shared a forbidden kiss with.

J. Randy Taraborrelli's new book, "The Kennedy Heirs," excerpted in People, dives into the late couple's marriage as part of a broader examination of the third generation of Kennedys -- the grandchildren of Rose and Joseph P. Kennedy. For the explosive book, Taraborrelli conducted interviews with a slew of the family's friends and associates.

Part of what put Kennedy and Bessette's 1996 marriage on shaky ground was Bessette's inability to get completely comfortable with being in the public eye. As a publicist for Calvin Klein, she was used to being behind the scenes in the fashion world, but that changed when she became a target of the paparazzi in New York during her relationship with Kennedy. As the son of a former president, on the other hand, JFK Jr. was completely used to constantly getting his photo taken.

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Though Taraborrelli claims that the couple alleviated some of their anxieties by turning to partying (including allegedly doing cocaine, acid and Ecstasy), nobody around them claimed that substance abuse was a serious problem for them.

"This was the nineties when young people, like John and Carolyn, sometimes partied," he said. "They had experiences the way people often do. I found no evidence of any addiction or problems for either of them."

Tensions in their marriage boiled over after Bessette reconnected with an old friend, who she confided in sometime in 1998. Taraborrelli writes that one of their late-night conversations ended in a brief kiss, after which Bessette "pulled away and said, 'No, what am I doing? I can't be here right now.'"

Two days later, after Bessette confessed to her husband what had happened, her friend awoke to his buzzer ringing at 2 in the morning. When he answered the door, he found "John Kennedy, his face twisted in anger. John swung a punch. 'Stay away from my goddamn wife.'"

That, in addition to the his cousin, Anthony Radziwill's fatal bout with cancer, which weighed heavily on Kennedy, forced them to seek out couples counseling, Taraborrelli claims.

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"Both wanted to improve their marriage," he says. "John didn't want to be one of those Kennedy men who didn't care how his wife feels."

The next year, on their way to cousin Rory Kennedy's wedding on July 16, 1999, the couple's plane, piloted by John, crashed off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, killing the couple as well as Bessette's sister, Lauran, who was also aboard the plane.

"They were working on their relationship at the time they died," the author explains. "They though that had all the time in the world to figure this out. Together they had the most thrilling highs and the most crushing blows. They really did love each other, but the question I ask in the book and the question they asked themselves was, 'Is that enough?' Their love for each other was undeniable, but was it enough considering everything that was working against them?"

"The Kennedy Heirs: John, Caroline, and the New Generation - A Legacy of Triumph and Tragedy" by J. Randy Taraborrelli will be released on June 11, 2019. Pre-order it here.

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