From his entrance into Democratic leadership circles in the 1950s through his years in the Kennedy administration and up until his last days, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., was always at the vital center of American politics. For more than half a century, the master historian recorded his experiences and opinions in journals that together form an intimate chronicle of life at the highest levels of American politics and culture in postwar America. This extraordinary volume contains his candid thoughts about the signal events of our time, from the Bay of Pigs to the devastating assassinations of the 1960s, from Vietnam to Watergate, and from the fall of the Soviet Union to Bush v. Gore. Filled with Schlesinger?s trademark acerbic wit and tremendous insight, Journals is a fitting tribute to a most remarkable American life.
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Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. was a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and biographer. His many books include A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House, To Lose a Battle, and The Almanac of American History. He died in 2007.From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. The beloved cultural and political commentator Schlesinger (1917-2007) formed his left-leaning worldview during FDR's New Deal; a liberal scholar and historian, Schlesinger produced more than 25 books (his last was 2005's War and the American Presidency), won two Pulitzers and became a powerful force in shaping liberal political thought. Taking readers through Schlesinger's diaries year by year, the book begins with Schlesinger's first encounters with presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, for whose (unsuccessful) campaign he would become a speech-writer; fortunately, off-years pass by quickly (1953-1959 take up fewer than 30 pages), picking up again in 1960, when Schlesinger became special advisor to President Kennedy. With characteristic candor, Schlesinger weighs in on both: of Stevenson, "probably even more conservative than I had thought"; of JFK, "he has most of FDR's lesser qualities. Whether he has FDR's greater qualities is the problem for the future." Subsequent years bring the expected: Vietnam and LBJ, the assassination of Robert Kennedy, Nixon and Watergate, the rise of Reagan and the fall of the Soviets, the first Gulf War and the second George Bush, all viewed through Schlesinger's singular perspective. Interspersed between an endless, engrossing parade of lunches with luminaries such as Henry Kissenger and Jackie Onassis, Schlesinger discusses his own work and a few personal details ("Another year; another house... spent most of the month getting settled at 118 East 82nd Street with my beloved Alexandra"). Most of the memoir, however, is a pleasingly understated whirlwind of big names and bigger issues. Rich in insight and cagily observed history, Schlesinger's weighty memoirs will mesmerize political junkies; even lay-readers will be charmed and fascinated by Schlesinger's take on the 20th century's last half.
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