Arthur Schlesinger, R.I.P.

From the New York Times (“Arthur Schlesinger, Historian of Power, Dies at 89“):

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., the historian whose more than 20 books shaped discussions for two generations about America’s past and who himself was a provocative, unabashedly liberal partisan, most notably in serving in the Kennedy White House, died last night in Manhattan. He was 89.

Mr. Schlesinger saw life as a walk through history. He wrote that he could not stroll down Fifth Avenue without wondering how the street and the people on it would have looked a hundred years ago.

"He is willing to argue that the search for an understanding of the past is not simply an aesthetic exercise but a path to the understanding of our own time," Alan Brinkley, the historian, wrote.

Mr. Schlesinger wore a trademark dotted bowtie, showed an acid wit and had a magnificent bounce to his step. Between marathons of writing as much as 5,000 words a day, he was a fixture at Georgetown salons when Washington was clubbier and more elitist, a lifelong aficionado of perfectly-blended martinis and a man about New York, whether at Truman Capote’s famous parties or escorting Jacqueline Kennedy to the movies.

A long life, a remarkable career, and perfectly-blended martinis. That’s something to shoot for.

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About the Author:

Keir Graff is the editor of Booklist Online and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix.

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