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Journals: 1952-2000 Paperback – Bargain Price, September 30, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Over a career that spanned more than half a century, two-time Pulitzer Prize winnerâ€"The Age of Jackson (1945) and the biography A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House (1965; it also won the National Book Award)â€"Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., knew as much about the inner workings of government and society as any person alive. Schlesinger’s sons, both scholars, have painstakingly pared their father’s prodigious output (critics comment that the year 1999 is, oddly, missing from the final product, though Schlesinger died in 2007) into a document that should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the social and political forces that drove postâ€"World War II America. Journals is an important artifact, a "moving and monumental 48-year chronicle" (New York Times), and an insider’s playbook to a rich historical period.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics); Reprint edition (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143114352
  • ASIN: B0043RTAXY
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,051,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Susanna Hutcheson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Everyone loves gossip. Especially if it's true. Well, "Journals" has the dish. The author was there. When he talks about the Kennedy brothers, for example, we get more information than we've ever had before. It's not the old rehash. Yes, we hear about Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedy testosterone. But there's lots more here too.

This is about cafe society. The author was at the center of it for so many years. Much of what he tells us, he heard at private dinner tables and parties. So the stories are not well-known if known at all. That's one thing that makes this book so special and such a good read. Where else could you get this sort of information?

About the Kennedy administration the author pens, "I cannot banish from my mind the picture of these brave men, pathetically underequipped, dying on Cuban beaches before Soviet tanks" and "J.F.K. was in superb form at lunch."

This Washington insider gives us a look at the people in power that's not been generally known. It's fun and yet it's a bit scary when we discover how utterly ill prepared some of them were (and perhaps are) to deal with the major affairs of governing.

Nonetheless, this is a good book and I recommend it to you.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Izaak VanGaalen on October 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Arthur Schlesinger died in February of 2007 at the age of 89. In 2006, already ailing, he requested that his sons go through some 6,000 pages of unedited journals in which he had jotted done his daily observations and musings of the last 50 years. The pared down version is still a doorstopper at 894 pages. It is virtually a who's who of politics, literature, art, and academia of the last half century. Schlesinger's journal is reminiscent of Gore Vidal's memoirs and some of Truman Capote's works in that they are written in the chatty upper-crust Manhattan society banter of an earlier time. As in Vidal's and Capote's books, this one also contains lots of name-dropping and juicy bits gossip.

Schlesinger was a man of many talents: He was a great historian, a leading spokesman of liberalism, and he was the in-house intellectual of the Kennedy White House, the role for which he is most well-known. Kennedy was his contemporary and his hero, for he embodied the kind of liberalism that Schlesinger believed in deeply. Contrary to what many believed, Kennedy was very astute politically. Kennedy was quick to grasp political complexities and was able to skillfully turn them to his advantage. Schlesinger's tour of duty at the White House was undoubtedly the defining moment of his career. Although he was already an accomplished historian with important books on Jackson and Roosevelt, he was for the first time actually living and making history. This "proximity to power" remains a constant theme in these journals.

After Kennedy's assassination, Schlesinger stayed for a short time with the Johnson administration. This relationship did not last long since Johnson's temperment and style were antithetical to Schlesinger's.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By G. S. Thomas on November 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Arthur Schlesinger Jr. was a fixture in American politics for a quarter-century and a passionate observer for at least two decades beyond that. This book is fascinating for anyone interested in the post-World War II history of America. Schlesinger was on a first-name basis with most of the period's giants, and he offers equal doses of inside information, analysis and just plain gossip in his Journals. The sad thing is that this dispassionate historian, this acclaimed author who wrote with such style and insight about Jackson and FDR, was so surprisingly close-minded and sometimes mean-spirited about the leaders of his own period. He was especially myopic about the Kennedys, believing they could do no wrong, and accepting their major mistakes while excoriating other Democrats and Republicans for smaller transgressions. The professor, in fact, comes off as much the snob, hailing only those of either party who were born to wealth and/or attended Ivy League schools. The other drawback with the Journals is that Schlesinger's sons edited the book so poorly. Typos abound, and dozens of names are misspelled, both in the text and in the index. A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner certainly deserved better.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Commander Adama on December 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917 - 2007) is arguably the most prominent historian to come from the World War Two "GI" generation. The son of a distinguished Harvard historian, Schlesinger never earned a PhD, yet he still became the leading liberal historian of his era. He earned two Pulitzer prizes and numerous other literary awards, but his prominence came from his activities as a leading intellectual voice for the New Deal, New Frontier, Great Society-type liberalism that dominated the Democratic Party from Franklin Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson. In the 1950's Schlesinger became a speechwriter and confidant to Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic Party's presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956. In 1960 he angered many of his liberal admirers when he effortlessly switched from Stevenson to John F. Kennedy, whose liberal credentials were then suspect. When JFK was elected, he appointed Schlesinger as the first White House "Historian-In-Residence," and Schlesinger reached the peak of his power and influence in intellectual and Democratic Party circles. He energetically defended the Kennedy brothers from all critics, attended Bobby Kennedy's famous pool parties, and also found time to write theater and movie reviews and hobnob with Hollywood celebrities and famed novelists and artists. When JFK was assassinated Schlesinger - who despised Lyndon Johnson despite sharing his liberal views - left the White House. He then spent the rest of his career defending the Kennedy "legacy" from a growing number of critics, advising Bobby Kennedy during his tragic 1968 presidential bid, and loathing Richard Nixon, (surprisingly) Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. He never found the time to finish his most respected academic work - the multivolume "Age of Roosevelt" series.Read more ›
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