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The Letters of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Hardcover – Deckle Edge

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (October 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812993098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812993097
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Influential historian and ardent liberal Democrat, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote about 35,000 letters in his lifetime. Seemingly a representative selection, this gleaning from that trove reveals his circle of correspondents, which included intellectuals, Democratic Party politicians, and journalists. Reading Schlesinger’s missives, one can follow political events from the 1950s through the 1970s from his perspective. If preserving and advancing the New Deal was Schlesinger’s primary public concern, associating himself with Democratic Party presidential candidates was his means; his effusive political advice to Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, George McGovern, and Bill Clinton abounds in these pages. Most of Schlesinger’s recipients, not as recognizable today, require brief footnotes that the editors provide. Schlesinger also wrote to his family, personal friends, and scholars who sought his viewpoint on the history he had witnessed. In an epistolary style that was newsy and gossipy, generous and caustic, this volume (combined with Journals, 1952–2000, 2007) displays the private side of theSchlesinger that the history-reading public knows from his works on Andrew Jackson and Franklin Roosevelt, which remain landmarks on their subjects. A must for the American history collection. --Gilbert Taylor


“Schlesinger’s political intelligence in his correspondence is excellent, the level of discourse and purpose high, the sense of responsibility as keen as the sense of fun. . . . The best letters—and there are many—come from the typewriter of the public Schlesinger, the fighting liberal, especially when he’s jousting with a provocative antagonist.”—George Packer, The New York Times Book Review

“Arthur Schlesinger’s letters are full of personal, political, and historical insights into the tumultuous events and enormous personalities that dominated the mid-twentieth century. Because he viewed them up close but with a historian’s perspective, The Letters of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. helps us all to more fully understand recent history.”—President Bill Clinton

“Spanning more than five decades, Arthur Schlesinger’s letters to friends and acquaintances in the highest echelons of mid-twentieth-century political and intellectual life are vivid, candid, witty, and brilliantly written. The Letters of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., is an important contribution to history and, one hopes, may even revive the lost art of letter writing.”—Henry Kissinger
“At a time when letter writing has become a lost art, Arthur Schlesinger’s letters are a welcome reminder of how appealing and how revealing of an era this form can be. Schlesinger's letters are a national treasure that deserve a large audience.”—Robert Dallek
“Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. was a masterful historian, a fighting liberal, and a fully engaged citizen—that much we’ve always known. But this book establishes him as one of the liveliest letter writers of his time, as well. These pages are filled with vivid personalities, strong opinions, shrewd assessments, and half-forgotten battles brought back to life. No one who wants to understand how it was to live through the second half of the twentieth century in America should miss it.”—Geoffrey C. Ward

“Here’s an amazing book of letters large and small written by a man whose brilliance has long been appreciated, beginning with Eleanor Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, John Kennedy and all the Kennedys thereafter, and with this book shall continue to be honored. I am one of the lucky ones whose friendship with Arthur Schlesinger kept me aware of the fact that time and thoughtfulness belong to us all, and that age and intellect do not guarantee us a free ride. As you enter his world, all I can say is: Read on to uncover and discover what life is all about.”—Lauren Bacall

“An insightful, unique view of the multiple Pulitzer–winning liberal icon Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. . . . A treasure trove that enriches understanding of some of the men and women who helped shape events from World War II to the present.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Fascinating . . . Schlesinger was . . . a prolific writer of letters—around 35,000—whose extraordinarily wide range of correspondents included fellow intellectuals, literary figures and many high government officials, such as his longtime friends Hubert Humphrey and Henry Kissinger. . . . His sons, Andrew and Stephen, have gone through this treasure trove to select the letters that best articulated his essential beliefs and captured the movement of his times. The result is the thoroughly engaging and enlightening The Letters of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., most of which have never before been seen by the public.”BookPage

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Inside the Beltway Reader on December 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
It is a shame that this book has not been prominently reviewed in publications like the New York Times, because it should be haled as a major publishing event and widely read. Covering the period from V-E Day, which Schlesinger vividly describes from Paris where he was stationed at the end of World War II, to a long association with the Kennedys (from critiquing an early draft of Profiles in Courage to consoling the Kennedy widows), and ultimately to the administration of George W. Bush, whose doctrine of preemptive war Schlesinger deplored, the letters provide a ring-side seat to virtually all the important and many of the since-forgotten events and issues of the days.

Throughout his long and productive life as a noted historian of American intellectual and political history and active participant in Democratic Party national politics, including service at the highest levels of the Kennedy Administration, Schlesinger was liberal (in both senses of the word) with his advice, analyses and criticisms to a long list of politicians, journalists, academics, celebrities, and ordinary citizens. His pen-pals included Adlai Stevenson, the Kennedys (John, Bobby, Jackie), Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, and Walter Mondale, as well as William Buckley, Henry Kissinger, and George H.W. Bush, to name a few. He could be a bit obsequious towards his more powerful allies he was trying to influence and acerbic toward his political and intellectual adversaries whose erroneous thinking and misuse of history he was trying to correct, but the letters were consistently thoughtful, witty, well written and often wise.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Donna Fairfield on February 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having studied with Arthur Schlesinger it was an interesting perspective on the era. At 95 as I reflect on those times, it gave new insight to me on the times I experienced….. these letters are insight-full!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on December 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A book for anyone with an interest in the nation's political affairs, especially at the presidential level, from the 1940s to the early part of this century.

Dr. Schlesinger wrote well and often. He was involved in the highest levels of Democratic party politics. He was a friend and defender of the extended Kennedy family. He was a public intellectual with sharp elbows, but also with a strong mooring on the side of political freedom and free speech.

A creature of Harvard and later Manhattan, he penned interesting and vibrant letters to the famous of his era.

While I am not of the same political faith as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., I nonetheless admire his dedication to this democracy and the spirit with which he so clearly argued his many and varied views.
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