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Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Made Camelot Come Alive

March 1, 2007

I love reading history.  There is no greater feel for a reader than when the text comes alive, and the subjects of the book leap out of the pages and demand that their passions  be heard and understood.  When that happens the book is not only a success, but also the author can be assured that he/she has honored the past.  Last night one of those historians/writers died.  Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. was 89.

Arthur Schlesinger was a historian who loved his topics and was able to convey to the rest of us why we should also care.  When he wrote about the Kennedys he knew that there was a soft spot in the nation for this much beloved family.  When President Kennedy was murdered in Texas there was already a huge pile of notes made by Schlesinger that was to be the foundation for Kennedy’s own book.  Those notes were to become the Pulitzer Prize winning book that the nation had to read, “A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House”.  It was upon my reading that book where I was made to believe that government could do mighty things and right grievous wrongs.  It was a hopeful look at how government could operate.  In those pages the young President walked and talked, his intellect and dreams came alive again through the vivid writing of Schlesinger.

I loved to see Schlesinger interviewed on television and was never put off by his elitist attitude that he exhibited at times.  I welcomed it as it came with a keen depth of knowledge and passion for the history that he cared so much about.  He had a certain worldview, and since I gravitated in his direction he was a joy to listen to and learn from.  Several years ago I recall reading aloud to James a news story (something that happens too often I am sure) where Schlesinger had commented on the disastrous foreign policy of the current President.  Today I read where several news columns again mentioned those comments and reminded everyone of  “a ghastly mess” that we now find ourselves in as a nation.

Our understanding of the past is more complete, and more a joy to undertake, when there are men like Schlesinger to guide us. 

  1. March 2, 2007 4:45 PM

    Was he a biographer, or a hagiographer?

  2. maryt permalink
    March 2, 2007 11:14 AM

    I appreciate his writing so much about the Kennedy’s when I was young. That’s how I learned so much about them.

  3. March 1, 2007 11:10 PM

    I too am missing and remembering the life of my favorite historian and writer today. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. helped weave the fabric of contemporary American life, and was one of the titans of mainstream liberalism. Rest in peace, Arthur.

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