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.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.60(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.90(d)|
|Age Range:||17 Years|
About the Author
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My biggest problem with the book is the editing. Schlesinger's sons wanted to have the book finished for his birthday, but he died before the book was completed. In their rush, they didn't do a very good job of editing. I am too young (38) to remember first hand many of the people and events he talks about, and I only remember the big names and events from past history lessons. It would have been helpful to have a cast of characters, similar to a play, at the beginning of the book to help identify the many personalities who were a part of Schlesinger's life. Also, in-text identitifications of people were inconsistent. As for Schlesinger himself, I disagree with the earlier two reviewers. I don't think Schlesinger "hero-worshiped" the Kennedys. I think he identified with them and their family strongly, but he also states when he disagreed with JFK's policies or discusses what he thought were his failings. I also don't see him as a Nixon-hater. Did he detest the man? Sure. But when he discusses his distaste for Nixon, it is more regarding his politics and how he implemented his policies than his personality. When Nixon lived next door to Schlesinger, he really didn't have much to say about him, and certainly didn't rant about his hatred of the man. What I found most interesting about this book is how politics haven't changed at all from the 50s. Republicans use the same tactics against Democrats they always have (not patriotic, want to turn America into a socialist/communist country, etc.) and Democrats even then had the tendency to wimp out. What is interesting is that the Democrats were known as the war party, not the Republicans. That is certainly a switch from now. I like Schlesinger. He is intelligent and reasonable in his views. He handles disagreements with his opinions calmly and seems to have a knack of making his old enemies his new friends (William Buckley). Throughout most of the book he is cheerful, full of purpose, and humorous. I find his frequent complaints about his inability to finish his FDR book (and I hope he managed to finish it) due to the letter-writing, speech-giving, etc. engagements funny and familiar. I've thought many times I could get more stuff done if people would quit bothering me! An earlier reviewer mentioned his constant complaints about lack of money, yet he is always going out to eat (and not at McDonald's either) and jetting off to Europe. I think that is odd too. Although I encountered the same situation when reading Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking (an amazing book--and Joan Didion was one of those people Schlesinger detested), and discussed with a friend who also thought it was odd. We decided that certain people--people who reside within the privileged circles of society--don't care as much about paying their bills and will always go out to dinner at a nice restaurant or go to Europe and never worry about paying those pesky bills. I don't know where Joan Didion and her husband and Schlesinger and his wife found the money to do all the things they did, but I figure some of it was the trips were paid for because they were business-related trips (many of Schlesinger's were) or some of their rich friends paid the way. Anyway, Schlesinger's Journal is good reading for the historical stuff (esp. once he got into the 90s--events and people I remember and who are still in the news)and I really wish I knew what he thought of the 2008 campaign and John McCain, Sarah Palin and Barack Obama.
An enjoyable read - but - the worship of the Kennedys was almost embarrassing to read. He complains about being broke all the time and yet dines out, vacations and parties with the movers and shakers, all the time. The hatred of Nixon, in particular, but others as well, shows a mean, petty little mind. He was human, but flawed. And to think he was writing national policy positions to be mouthed by our so-called leaders. Scary!!!
Great read, however I am uncomfortable with the elitist tone. Why have so many brilliant and lovely people described, got it (policies) so wrong over so many years.