Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Arthur M. Schlesinger book

1952 – 2000
Arthur M. Schlesinger,Jr.
By; Andrew and Stephen Schlesinger

Mr. Schlesinger was a prolific author and historian. For over 50 years he was in contact with the most influential politicians, artists and world leaders. He would be considered an intellectual. He died at the age of 89. Prior to this he had asked his sons to write a book using his personal notes. Since there were over 6000 pages, their task was to choose the most important and condense to fewer than 1000 pages. They ended up with 958.
It would be impossible to write a review. What I have chosen is to list comments I found interesting. Should this trigger interest on your part be prepared for long hours of intense reading?
Page 37 - A quote from HST when asked for advice by Adlai E. Stevenson as he sought the presidency, “Do you want to know what the issue in this campaign is?” He went to the window and pointed at a passerby. “The issue is who’s looking after that guy? The people down in Washington aren’t looking after him. They’re looking after themselves. What we have to tell the country is that we Democrats intend to look after the ordinary guy.”
Page 156 - President JFK observations about comments made by President Eisenhower at a press conference. JFK said, “The thing I liked best,” he said, “was the picture of Eisenhower attacking medical care for the old under Social Security as “socialized medicine” and then getting into his government limousine and heading out to Walter Reed.”
Page 286 – A conversation with Jackie Kennedy. She took Arthur aside and said, “Do you know what I think will happen to Bobby if he is elected president?” I said no. She said, “The same thing that happened to Jack… There is so much hatred in this country, and more people hate Bobby than hate Jack. That’s why I don’t want him to be President… I’ve told Bobby this, but he is fatalistic, like me.”
Page 336 - Stalin was very much impressed with Roosevelt; you could almost say he was in awe of Roosevelt. He saw in Roosevelt the power of the USA, but he also saw in him the New Deal: he knew that something had been happening in America which did not fit the categories and which he had to take account of….
Page 362 – Nixon continues to get away with murder. Now it is the progress toward a Vietnam settlement…. What is saddest of all is that if Nixon had been willing to make these concessions in 1969, we could have had the settlement then; and 20,000 Americans and God knows how many Vietnamese, now dead, would be alive.
Page 612 – Describing a British film… But its vision of an electronic world in which nothing works, of cities drowned in filth and litter and divided between the stupid rich and the aimlessly poor, of an intrusive, incompetent and brutal state bureaucracy- all seemed peculiarly convincing. I find I have no faith, none at all, in progress. I do not expect a better future.
Page 660 – He comments on the debate between Dukakis and Bush. Bush regurgitated his demographic crap about liberalism, the pledge of allegiance, the ACLU, etc….. I have thought that George Bush knows better but I am beginning to wonder if he really does.
Page 670 – With reference to the book “The Satanic Verses” by Salman Rushdie- Last Thursday Waldenbooks, claiming the need to protect its bookshops and employees from Muslim fanatics, ordered the removal of the book from its shelves. This provoked him to fire off a letter.
Page 673 - So democracy has won the political argument. The market has won the economic argument. The elections this year in the Soviet Union, the demonstrations this week in Tiananmen Square—all signify not just the survival but the triumph of democracy in its century- long struggle against the totalitarians. For the historian, an exciting time.
Page 684 – With reference to American troops sent to Panama-As one opposed to presidential wars undertaken without congressional consent, to unilateral U.S. intervention in the hemisphere and to sneak attacks by superpowers on small countries, I am deeply unhappy, but I am very much in the minority.
Page 701 – With reference to the first gulf war- The most unnecessary war in American history began on the 16th.
Page 832 – Starr’s report lived up to anticipations. It is indeed the most salacious public document in the history of the republic… Starr, who is already exposed as the nation’s number one pornographer…
Page 857 – The Florida roller-coaster rushes on. Very odd succession of sensations: in the morning, Bush is winning; in the late afternoon, Gore is granted a reprieve and is still in there. I suppose Bush will win in the end. But if he wins when votes are still uncounted, it will be regarded as a steal.

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
August 17, 2009

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